Venture Funding Opportunities

Knitting Machine used by Stoko for Knee Brace

Concept Fund Brochure

HATCH ventures have access to venture-building funding support through the Concept Fund, subsidized business and technical internships, and Fellowships for staff who are completing graduate degrees.

Concept Fund

The Concept Fund is administered by HATCH, and provides grants to early-stage UBC ventures that are developing innovations with strong commercial potential. The grants, generously supported by donors, help ventures fund development of proofs-of-concept and prototypes, business models and market validation, as well as participation in events, business model competitions and other related venture-building activities. To be eligible, ventures must have been accepted into entrepreneurship@UBC’s Accelerator program—or be at an equivalent company-building stage—and be working with an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR).

Read what previous recipients have to say about the Concept Fund below. For more information and/or to apply, consult our Concept Fund brochure.

Concept Fund Testimonials

Company Description
AVA Technologies Inc. (https://avagrows.com) is a Vancouver-based startup on a mission to help the world get growing. AVA innovates on advanced gardening technology and plant science. We’ve developed a “Nespresso for gardening” device called AVA Byte, which is a smart indoor garden that uses plant pods to get growing. AVA’s CEO, Valerie Song, was a UBC Sauder BCOM 2014 and participant of the entrepreneurship@UBC Lean Launchpad and HATCH programs.

Use and Importance of Award
The UBC Concept Fund and programs were critical to the early success of the AVA team. This money was the first ever funding we received to kickstart our business. We were able to use it to leverage other salary grants that paid for early staff and prototyping costs, until we had a working prototype to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign that reached $135,000 USD in sales, 100% funded on day 1, and almost 400% funded overall. With that momentum, AVA then proceeded to raise $2M USD in Venture Capital money, received 15 different accolades from around the world, and officially started shipping our products in early 2020. Thanks to the UBC Concept Fund and the incredible e@UBC community, AVA is now a 15-person team ready to grow into our vision of a garden in every home.

Valerie Song
CEO, AVA Technologies Inc.

Company Description
BarrelWise Technologies Ltd. (https://www.barrelwise.ca) is a Vancouver-based company that has developed the world’s first comprehensive solution for wine barrel management that delivers process efficiency, quality control, and barrel-by-barrel quality insights to wineries. The company was founded by two MBAs and two PhD Mechanical engineers and is based out of the HATCH Accelerator at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Use and Importance of Award
BarrelWise received financial support from the Concept Fund in late 2018. We used this funding to travel to early-adopter wineries, build an early prototype of our proprietary barrel bung, and to secure a provisional patent. The advancements made possible by the Concept Fund were an important part of BarrelWise raising our first equity financing round in May of 2019. The BarrelWise system is now used by several major wineries in Canada and the US.

Jason Sparrow
CEO, BarrelWise Technologies Ltd.

Company Description
PigeonBox (www.pigeonbox.ca) deploys and operates smart lockers so that online shoppers can receive their packages with convenience. Since launching in late 2018 with a deployment in the UBC NEST student building, we have partnered with Translink and deployed units at various Skytrain stations commencing June 2020.

Use and Importance of Award
The Concept Fund award enabled us to hire UBC Business student Nathan Forster for 4 months to help us prepare for the launch with Translink. Nathan helped us formulate the foundation of our marketing strategy and carry out a focused marketing campaign. He developed a marketing calendar, designed our landing page, created FAQs, conducted email campaigns, and formalized our user funnel. Nathan’s contribution helped us better understand our user base and test our marketing tactics prior to the launch, and had great results during the kickoff period. We were featured in most major media across Canada and were able to capture users from Day 1 of the launch. We are still using the marketing calendar Nathan developed as the basis of our going digital marketing strategy, and continue to iterate on the user funnel.

Seunghwan Son
CEO, PigeonBox

Company Description
Stoko Design Inc. (www.stoko.ca/) is the world’s first supportive apparel company, empowering athletes of all abilities by helping them overcome injuries, push themselves harder, and stay active longer. Living at the intersection of functional support and design thinking, Stoko integrates an adjustable support system into everyday athletic apparel and prioritizes simplicity, authenticity, and the athlete’s experience. Based in Vancouver, Canada, our team of entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers have created an entirely new
method of supporting the human body and continue to push the limits of traditional apparel manufacturing. Stoko is an angel-backed venture, having raised over $5 million in equity and non-dilutive funding, and has leadership from companies including Lululemon, Nike, Aritzia, and Clearly.

Use and Importance of Award
Stoko received funding from the Concept Fund in our first year of operations. This funding was invaluable, allowing us to make our first hire (a mechanical engineering intern), purchase prototyping materials, and unlock various other non-dilutive funding opportunities. The Concept Fund is able to offer a truly meaningful contribution to early-stage ventures and de-risk the transition from idea to prototype.

Zack Eberwein
CEO, Stoko Design Inc.

Company Description
Zennea Technologies Inc. (www.zenneatech.com) is a medical device company, conducting clinical trials for a novel wearable system solution for treating chronic snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.

Use and Importance of Award
Zennea was excited to be able to hire a 4th year Sauder School of Business student as our first business development intern, to conduct market research surrounding design decisions for the next generation of the system. The intern spent the fall 2020 semester answering critical design and strategy questions via primary and secondary research. The intern’s reports were used directly in senior management decisions for the next phase of product development and commercialization strategy.

Rachel Chase
CEO & Co-Founder
Zennea Technologies Inc.

EngPhysics

Thanks to the generous support of donors, the HATCH intern program provides interns from Science, Applied Science and the Sauder School of Business to ventures in both the later stage incubator and to HATCH ventures to work on technology and business development.

Tech interns learn business processes such as understanding how technology development impacts business plans and financial models. Conversely, MBA interns learn about the technology and its impact on financial models (e.g., an inexpensive material may have taken years to develop, which needs to be reflected in product pricing). The internship program represents a highly unique knowledge cross-pollination opportunity for students.

It is also an enormous benefit to ventures, who often recruit interns into full-time positions.

HATCH staff interview intern candidates and make hiring recommendations. Subsidies are available from the Government of Canada’s Career-Ready Program, and facilitated by HATCH. ICICS and the Faculty of Applied Science provide funding for tech interns, and entrepreneurship@UBC provides funding for the business interns.

Professional development lunch-and-learn sessions offered by Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, mentors and guest speakers cover topics such as business development, communication, investing, and more. Progress meetings are held once a week to help interns resolve technical and business issues.

Frank and Gordon Forward Commercialization Fellowship

The Frank and Gordon Forward Commercialization Fellowship was launched in 2020 through a generous endowment created by Gerald Heffernan, who revolutionized the world’s steel industry by refining the electric-arc furnace steel-making process, precluding the need for a blast furnace and making “mini-mills” possible. The process of electric-arc furnace steel-making now comprises 30 per cent of the world’s steel production.

The Fellowship is awarded annually to three graduate students in the Faculty of Applied Science, Sauder School of Business or Faculty of Science who are passionate about commercialization. It is designed to train recipients in developing and advancing their technology and to help them attract seed funding, while completing their studies. Learn more about the Fellowship and the 2020 inaugural recipients.