Conventional wisdom holds that New York is the greatest city in the world, so what better place for an accelerator focused on technological innovations that will push the “smart city” forward? Urban-X, a collaboration between Hax and the car company Mini, kicked off its first batch of incubatees in NYC back in March.
The program offers $60,000 in seed capital, expert advice and mentorship, and access to design and manufacturing facilities around the world — from Urban-X’s own offices and maker space in the Big Apple, to Hax’s and Mini’s operations in Shenzhen and Munich.
Making up the accelerator’s first class are startups focused on hydroponic urban farming, keyless entry systems for buildings, high-tech composting, street-level sensor networks, and charging stations for commercial drones. There are also two companies developing high-tech bike helmets: Brooklyness, which is focused on visibility and safety; and MindRider, which uses brainwave sensors to map out patterns of stress and relaxation as riders move around the city.
MindRider initially tried to market its helmets to individual riders, but co-founder Arlene Ducao says her team now sees data as the real product. Information from a fleet of test riders can be packaged as a quality-of-life measure for city neighborhoods, and Ducao says this approach meshes well with the Urban-X vision of "the city as a service".
"Urban-X has been quite helpful in the process of honing the product, pitching it, and approaching potential customers in new sectors like commercial real estate analysis and delivery/logistics fleet management. This is on top of the other sectors we work with, which includes urban planning/analytics, and vehicular R&D," Ducao wrote in an email to Postscapes.
Urban-X is already taking applications for its next incubation round, which is slated to begin in August.
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