The Accelerator Centre, based out of the University of Waterloo, will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Tuesday, with a visit from the Queen of England’s representative in Canada, Governor General David Johnston, who also happens to have once been the university’s president.
Johnston will be also meeting with students at the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Training Centre.
The Accelerator Centre has graduated 51 companies, including Miovision, Clearpath Robotics, Kik Interactive, Sortable, TrustPoint, Intellijoint Surgical, BigRoad, TextNow and Magnet Forensics.
“In the next 10 years, we will focus on helping to build holistic companies,” says Accelerator Centre CEO Dr. Paul Salvini. “The future isn’t just about interesting technologies, it’s about building strong businesses that innovate across all areas of operation from product development and market validation to growth strategy and culture creation.”
Salvini was appointed CEO of the Accelerator Centre last July, coming from his previous role as Chief Technology Officer for Christie Digital.
The 51 companies that have graduated from the Accelerator Centre have raised an average $10 million in financing, have a combined value of approximately $2 billion, and employ more than 1,500 people.
Last October, Kitchener-based traffic system technology platform developer Miovision partnered with two Accelerator Centre start-ups, Brisk Synergies and Ecopia Technologies, an indication that the company maintains close ties to its alma mater.
“Miovision always looks for innovative partners to complement our technology, and we’re especially proud to collaborate with other UW alums and teams who have gone through the Accelerator Centre,” said Miovision CEO Kurtis McBride. “This partnership helps us promote our vision to use intelligent transportation systems as a platform for new services that make life better.”
Miovision was the first company to graduate from the Accelerator Centre, starting with a staff of six and leaving after two and a half years with 20 employees. Miovision has 120 employees today, and clients in over 50 countries.
Clearpath Robotics graduated from the Accelerator Centre in 2011, and has recently expanded its fleet of autonomous warehouse vehicles for a GE Healthcare facility.
In April, Clearpath added Tesla Motors co-founder Mark Tarpenning to its advisory board.
Considering that failure is both the norm and a badge of honour in the start-up community, companies that have graduated from the Accelerator Centre have a startling 93% success rate, not to mention that they’ve all remained headquartered in Canada.
Salvini earned a Bachelor of Math degree, majoring in computer science, from the University of Waterloo, and a Master of Applied Science and a PhD in engineering, computer simulation, from the University of Toronto, followed by an MBA from the University of Toronto Rotman School of Business.
For Johnston, the celebration marks a return to a campus that named a research and technology park at the university’s north campus in his honour after he was named Governor General in 2010.
Last August, the Accelerator Centre opened its Reactor Space, an expansion that can accommodate an additional 30 early-stage companies for programs like AC Momentum, a one-year start-up development program.
“There’s a rich ecosystem of entrepreneurship in the Region of Waterloo,” says Salvini. “As a whole, we need to work on enhancing this environment so that entrepreneurs can think and dream even more boldly.”