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Matthew Bailey, left, co-founder of Thalmic Labs Inc. and company vice president, works with fellow co-founder and CEO Stepehn Lake on a wearable device that controls a computer with body gestures (without holding a gadget).

Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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Tech talent shines in Waterloo

Companies in the University of Waterloo's Velocity startup program have raised more than $100-million in funding in the five years since the incubator launched.

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Investment received by Velocity companies includes funding from venture capitalists, angel investors, government programs, and grants from the Velocity Fund, as well as from crowdfunding website, Kickstarter. Of the startups that passed through the program, Kik, Pebble and Thalmic Labs raised the most funding. Others, like MappedIn, Palette and Weston Expressions, are some of the more recent startups to successfully attract investment.

Pebble, the first Velocity team to crowdfund on Kickstarter, made headlines in 2012 when they raised more than $10-million with almost 70,000 pre-orders of the Pebble watch – beating their fundraising goal of $100,000.

In January of this year, Palette raised more than $150,000 on Kickstarter for their freeform interface that offers hands-on controls for software.

The $100-million milestone does not include acquisitions, such as Google's acquisition of BufferBox in 2012.

"The Velocity approach to supporting young entrepreneurs is making a noticeable impact – our startups have raised over $100-million in just five years," said Mike Kirkup , director of Velocity. "We're now in a great position to help attract the next $100-million ."

Velocity's funding milestone coincides with the launch of the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund announced last week by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on a visit to Waterloo Region last week. The fund aims to drive private sector investment in Canadian companies in the early-to-middle stages of growth.

Applications now open for the 2014 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award

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The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is accepting applications for the 2014 edition of the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award. Canadian business owners aged 18 to 35 will compete for a grand prize of $100,000 and a second prize of $25,000 in consulting services from BDC.

"Now's the time to be bold, dream big, explore new avenues and devise the winning strategy that will make your business thrive," said Michel Bergeron, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Public Affairs at BDC.

BDC is looking for young entrepreneurs who face a turning point: continue at their current pace or seize the opportunity to grow their business and achieve the momentum that will lead to long-term success. Applicants must submit a short video online describing their business's turning point and the solution that will help them achieve future growth. The deadline for the submission is by April 3 at 12 p.m. (EST).

For the first time in 2014, a national committee will evaluate the quality of the finalist projects and will give each finalist a score that will be combined with the public vote. The national committee evaluation is weighted to account for 30 per cent of each project's final ranking and the public vote will account for the remaining 70 per cent of the ranking.

Unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit in youth

On Jan. 29, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) brought together group of young entrepreneurs, business, education, non-profit, policy and community leaders in Calgary, to chart a path to take advantage of opportunities to advance youth entrepreneurship.

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The aim of the 10-city roundtable series, entitled Action Entrepreneurship: Growing Young Enterprise, is to tap into the bold ideas and collaborative spirit of young business owners and those who support them to identify the best ways to expand youth entrepreneurship in Canada.

The series will culminate in a national summit in May and an action plan to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

"We are focused on what it is that makes it possible for entrepreneurs to engage early, often and successfully," said the Honourable Dave Hancock, deputy premier and minister of Innovation.

From the archives

Toronto tech firm brings 80s classic 'Paperboy' to life

Globacore is a Toronto-based interactive shop that specializes in large format multitouch surfaces, game development, and unique human computer interacations

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