Embodying the tensions that cities across the world face as they wrestle with controlling a pandemic in dense, urban environments, Urban-X, the accelerator for technology startups focused on the problems cities face, has launched its eighth, fully remote, cohort.
While the accelerator program backed by the BMW-owned Mini Cooper automaker and the venture capital firm Urban Us is based in Brooklyn, it's conducting its latest program virtually, with participating startups coming from Atlanta, Sydney, San Francisco, Boston, Burlington and Los Angeles, according to a statement.
"Long term, we are bullish on cities. I think that COVID and climate change share some things in common. If we think that COVID is disruptive, and not only a threat to economic livelihood but human life, climate change, is certainly a much larger threat," said Micah Kotch, the managing director of Urban-X. "I think that cities have withstood pandemics previously. I think that we will be moving forward. The clear things that we need are really good political leadership. We need to heed science and to act quickly based on the best possible science and we need collective action. And that's where I see a lot of overlap between COVID and climate."
The latest batch of companies that Urban-X will work with includes:
- Adiona: a machine learning-based service to optimize hourly workforces in logistics and supply chain management
- Aquagenuity: a company providing search information about water quality for consumers
- Climate Robotics: a manufacturer of robots that produce carbon-sequestering and soil-improving biochar
- Mobilyze: the developer of a data analytics service for electric vehicle charging station site optimization
- Resonant Link: the creator of a wireless charging service to power robots and electric vehicles
- Xtelligent: a company rethinking traffic signal technology
"Not everyone can afford to move out to the suburbs and not everyone wants to. Cities are going to continue to be the epicenters of creativity and innovation," said Kotch. "While these last three-and-a-half to four months have been a real challenge, particularly here in the U.S., we are deep believers in the vibrancy and necessity of cities."
Later-stage investors think that the Urban-X thesis can create viable businesses, with about 85% of the accelerator's companies going on to raise additional rounds of funding. Some of the most successful companies (in terms of capital raised) include Bowery Farming, Starcity, Mark43, One Concern, Future Motion, Skycatch, Seamlessdocs, Revivn, BRCK and Rachio.
“Technology, investment and mentorship have the power to advance the low carbon, resilient and high density future we need for our cities,” said Shaun Abrahamson, Urban-X Investment Committee and managing partner at Urban Us. “We are thrilled to have this new group of founders join Urban-X to build creative solutions that tackle climate change and the biggest issues facing our cities.”