MINI's URBAN-X startup accelerator partners with Urban Us to expand smart city tech

URBAN-X is expanding and adding funding to its Brooklyn, NY-based startup accelerator with new venture capital partner Urban Us.

URBAN-X: Behind the scenes at Brooklyn's groundbreaking tech incubator

The Brooklyn, NY-based URBAN-X is expanding its tech startup program and giving participants $100,000 in funding.

URBAN-X, which was founded by MINI, has teamed with Urban Us to fund and mentor the accelerator's next generation of city innovation. This expands the program from its previous two months to five months, and the 10 new participants will receive $100,000 in funding in exchange for equity, plus access to $200,000 of capital with qualified financing. Selected startups will be based at URBAN-X headquarters within MINI's design center A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and continue to have access to MINI designers and engineers to mentor product development.

URBAN-X opened its Greenpoint headquarters within the 23,000-square-foot A/D/O earlier this year. The purpose of URBAN-X is to educate, invest in, and advocate for startups that are shaping the future of cities through technology and design. The first group of participants, named Cohort 01, completed the program in October 2016. The second cohort completed the program last month.

URBAN-X has kicked off a Global Summer Spotlight Tour to visit 13 cities around the globe to meet with potential applicants for its next cohort, and introduce people to some of the companies that completed the most recent cohort, which wrapped up last month.

SEE: URBAN-X launches in Brooklyn and introduces 8 startups focusing on smart city tech (TechRepublic)

At a recent event at A/D/O to honor the eight graduates of Cohort 02, Micah Kotch, managing director of URBAN-X, said, "I was born and raised in Brooklyn. A lot of people don't know, but Brooklyn has actually been the cradle of innovation for a very, very long time. In fact, just a couple of blocks from here, in 1861, the USS Monitor was built, and it was the first iron-hulled steamship commissioned by the Navy. It was built in 101 days, and I think that was really the first time that people were able to prove that in three short months, with the right design and engineering and manufacturing know-how, you could really change the world. So it's that same spirit that the companies at URBAN-X take in their approach to building new products."

The solutions that URBAN-X develops with its startups are human-first solutions that are human-centric and try to make cities better. The A/D/O workspace, "is a home for really exploring and pushing the boundaries of what design is and what design can be. It's also URBAN-X, which is a venture accelerator where we educate, invest in, and advocate for startups, who are really shaping the future of cities through technology and design," Kotch said.

Esther Bahne, head of MINI brand strategy and business innovation, said, "We think that designers really will and should be a part of all the conversations that shape the world."

A/D/O was built for designers, she said, "We open it to everybody that wants to enjoy design, that wants to hang out with us and spend time here. The idea here is to give rise to new creative work and that is also meant as a meeting space for designers, for founders, for pioneers of different things that would bring about something new."


Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson at A/D/O.

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson attended the A/D/O event, pointing out how his city in Canada has a goal to be the greenest city in the world by 2020 and is working on clean tech and renewable energy to make that happen.

Robertson said that URBAN-X is "really setting the pace in so many ways, but in particular right now in terms of smart cities and urban technology. It's a real inspiration for us on the West Coast to see what's happening here and how quickly it's happened."

"It's been a breathtaking pace in recent years. And this team here, the startup team and the entrepreneurship that's happening in New York, is really astounding. The whole world is watching and paying attention and is benefiting from the energy and the incredible ideas and technologies and services that you guys are coming up with here. So thank you for sharing your brilliance and your smarts with the world at a time when we need it so much in our cities," Robertson said.

Applications are currently being accepted for Cohort 03 with URBAN-X. You can apply here until 6:00 p.m. ET on July 21, 2017.

The top 3 takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. URBAN-X has partnered with Urban Us to provide $100,000 in funding for each participant in the third round of its startup accelerator.
  2. URBAN-X has kicked off a Global Summer Spotlight Tour to visit 13 cities around the globe to meet with potential applicants for the third round of its program.
  3. Applications are being accepted for the third round until July 21, 2017.

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By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees TechRepublic's news team and TechRepublic Premium. She focuses on tech and business and how the two worlds intersect. Teena's lifelong journalism career has included writing on s...