BMW backs urban designers of future

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Alice Cruickshank

The startups in the URBAN-X Cohort 04 are working on solutions to some of the biggest problems cities face around the world, such as optimising building construction, making residential real estate rentals more transparent, improving personal mobility and road safety, fast, cheap road tolls, and cutting energy waste in commercial office buildings.

The full list of Cohort 04 companies includes:

  • Avvir – automates quality assurance for the construction industry, providing real-time insights into the progress and potential defects on a project (video time: 35:58)
Avvir

Click to view an example of the real-time insights on Avvir’s platform

  • Campsyte – enables citydwellers to easily find and book private outdoor event space (video time: 14:53)
  • ClearRoad – helps government agencies automate toll road pricing for any section of road without the need for traditional proprietary hardware infrastructure (video time: 29:46)
  • Open Data Nation – analyses billions of public data records for cities and insurance carriers to predict and proactively mitigate problems to prepare for the safe deployment of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles (video time: 55:08)
  • Park & Diamond – using next-generation materials to build a safer, more portable biking helmet that can roll up into the shape of a water bottle for easier carrying, while looking like a regular hat, cap or beanie (video time: 49:15)

Park & Diamond Helmet

  • Rentlogic – a data-driven, letter-grade rating system for apartment buildings that aims to bring transparency and standardisation to the residential real estate market (video time: 21:23)
  • Sapient Industries – developer of a smart outlet that senses and learns human behaviour patterns in order to automate a building’s energy management (video time: 43:00)
Sapient

Sapient’s machine learning platform using data from smart outlets – click to expand

The accelerator is the creation of car company BMW MINI, in partnership with seed stage venture firm Urban Us. Together they invited leading venture investors, public officials, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders to a demo day in New York, where each of the startups showcased their market-ready prototypes to an in-person audience of more than 250 and thousands online through a livestream in partnership with Futurism.

“We’re thrilled to work with these innovative entrepreneurs who are pushing the boundaries of what technology can do for our cities,” said head of MINI brand strategy and business innovation, Esther Bahne.

“The MINI brand’s investment in URBAN-X provides a platform to collaborate with some of the brightest minds and creative urban thinkers around the world, who are helping to shape the future of our cities.”

URBAN-X managing director, Micah Kotch, added: “Cohort 04 is a group of incredibly creative, inventive and driven entrepreneurs. Improving the way our cities work has always required new thinking, and we’re excited about what comes next for these teams.”

In the coming weeks, the Cohort 04 startups will meet with potential investors in New York and California. URBAN-X has a proven track record in helping early-stage companies secure funding from leading investors, as six of the seven companies from Cohort 03 are raising their next round of capital.

URBAN-X Cohort 05 will launch this autumn. URBAN-X is also accepting applications for its next class of startups, Cohort 06, launching summer 2019. Early-stage companies interested can apply here until March 15th 2019.

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