The University of Waterloo and Velocity officially expanded their presence in downtown Kitchener today with a groundbreaking event at the new Innovation Arena building on the University of Waterloo's Health Sciences campus. The new site is part of an expanding focus on health innovation in Southwestern Ontario.

As part of Kitchener’s Economic Development Investment Fund (EDIF) 2.0, Kitchener Council committed $8.5 million towards the Innovation Arena to support the growing health technology start-up and scaleup ecosystem. Health Innovation is a key priority of the City of Kitchener’s award-winning economic development strategy, Make it Kitchener 2.0 and the City’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan.

“Innovation in Health Care to improve the quality of life of the residents we serve is a priority for the City of Kitchener and cities around the world, and that’s why City Council’s first major investment from Kitchener’s Economic Development Investment Fund (EDIF) 2.0 was $8.5 million towards the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Arena to support our growing health technology start-up and scaleup ecosystem,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “Today’s ground-breaking for this new facility shows what is possible when all three orders of government work together with the private, not-for-profit and academic sectors to create new local businesses and jobs, expand the local innovation ecosystem, and create an investment environment that serves as a gamechanger for Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and beyond.”

The Innovation Arena will feature shared research and development labs and collaborative office spaces to inspire partnerships and facilitate exchanges between businesses, founders, researchers, and community partners. The space will also be the new home of Velocity, the University of Waterloo's signature entrepreneurship program. The new, larger space will allow Velocity to streamline commercialization, fast-track entrepreneurs and support the global economy.

A $10 million FedDev Ontario investment supports a new partnership between Velocity, Western University, the City of Kitchener, and Medical Innovation Xchange to build a Southwestern Ontario Health Innovation Partnership.

At the groundbreaking event, the Ontario government committed to investing $7.5 million to help establish a state-of-the-art Innovation Arena at the University of Waterloo.

“It’s great to see the Team Ontario spirit in action with the University of Waterloo, the private sector and all levels of government coming together to build this world class facility,” said Premier Doug Ford. “As we continue to grow our province’s life sciences sector, the new Innovation Arena will accelerate the development and commercialization of made in Ontario innovations, create new jobs and help to attract investments to Kitchener and Waterloo.”

The 90,000-square-foot facility, located within Downtown Kitchener's Innovation District, will co-locate startups and create connections to local small/medium-sized enterprises. About 5,000 square feet of space will be committed to the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre to support local entrepreneurial initiatives and provide access to the facility and the services offered.

The Innovation Arena is expected to create 730 skilled jobs, support the development and growth of 135 businesses and commercialize 150 new health-related products, services or processes. It will also help anchor a growing number of health-tech firms in southwestern Ontario, contributing to regional growth while attracting international startups to Waterloo Region.



“Ontario has a long history of innovation in the life sciences sector, and the Innovation Arena will help many more Ontario start-ups, entrepreneurs, and innovations bring their brilliant ideas to life and to market. With this investment, we’re ensuring that Ontario remains a global leader in innovation and the life sciences sector now and for generations to come.”

- Honourable Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade of Ontario.

“Ontario has a world-class postsecondary education system and is home to innovative start-ups and scale-up firms. By fostering collaboration among businesses, researchers, and community partners, the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Arena will help fast-track the discovery, development, and commercialization of made-in-Ontario research, bringing ideas from the lab to market sooner – a key part of our government’s plan to maximize the value of Ontario-grown innovation.”

- Honourable Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities.

“The Innovation Arena is driven by a community that has a common vision, a bold strategy and the talent, research and ideas to deliver on possibilities,” said Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “Momentum in the Waterloo region and the city of Kitchener is building to support technology-inspired innovations in health care and delivery.”

- Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waterloo.

Make It Kitchener 2.0 Strategy

Make it Kitchener 2.0 is an award-winning bold, ambitious economic development plan approved in late 2020 to create a future where everyone can make a difference, to propel our community forward through investments in the impact economy and to guide economic post-pandemic recovery. The plan is a 10-year transformative vision, with up to an additional $110 million in municipal investments to guide economic development and community initiatives in the areas of health innovation, creative industries, a city-wide start-up network focused on the UN sustainable development goals, affordable and attainable housing and a vibrant, active city.

For more information, contact:

Shawn Falcao
Manager, Corporate Communications
City of Kitchener