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Urban-X aims to accelerate startups using AI to reengineer cities



Investors, founders and companies filled the Urban-X office in Brooklyn, NY this morning for the unveiling of the accelerator’s newest crop of startups using technology to solve urban challenges in transportation, planning, service delivery, energy efficiency and construction.

The cohort is the third from Urban-X, a partnership between Urban Us, a smart-city venture fund, and BMW-Mini.

From a pool of 300 applications around the world, Urban-X selected nine. Seven of the nine teams have a female founder and three firms are based outside the U.S.

Providing a real-time counter to the doomsday artificial-intelligence narrative, these startups are turning to AI to make life in cities safer and more efficient. Pittsburgh, PA-based Roadbotics, which uses AI and computer vision to monitor and manage roadways. The teams seems to have the “right team DNA to go to the next level,” Tom Broderick, an angel investor in the crowd, told ImpactAlpha.

Versatile Natures, from Tel Aviv, Israel, uses AI technology to improve the safety and efficiency of construction sites. Bègles, France-based Qucit leverages AI to help cities and businesses speed up services like emergency response and road assistance.

“The real scorecard is can we create impact while creating returns,” Stony Baptiste, a partner at Urban.us, told ImpactAlpha. Baptiste says his firm invests in teams it feels are trying to build long-term large companies. “A lot of our companies have gone on to raise Series A and Series B, so that’s pretty exciting.”

Check out the rest of the Urban-X cohort:

  • Blueprint Power is attempting to turn buildings into power plants that can participate in a new transactive energy marketplace.
  • Swiftera, in Brooklyn, uses aerial imagery and earth observation to mobility, leisure and urban planning decisions.
  • New York-based Good Goods is building a collaborative, space-as-a-service model for retail brands.
  • Hosta Labs, in Boston and New York, builds 3D models from regular photos to aid design and renovation.
  • San Francisco-based Upshift simplifies clean car access by renting and delivering Priuses to city-dwellers.
  • Lunewave, which engineers out of Tucson, AZ, is building high-performance radar sensors for autonomous vehicles.

The nine companies will each receive $100,000 and take up residence at the Urban-X headquarters in at A/D/O in Brooklyn.

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