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Eight urban tech start-ups backed by MINI accelerator that could redefine city living

With companies continuously working to improve the efficiency and quality of city life, urban tech is becoming a sector in its own right - here are eight urban tech start-ups that look set to be at its forefront over the coming years after being backed by car brand Mini's Urban-X accelerator programme

The US is home to a wide number of exciting urban tech start-ups intent on changing and enhancing the lives of city dwellers using innovative technology.

Urban-X, an accelerator backed by BMW car brand Mini, is working to help speed up this process through its accelerator programme that invests $100,000 (£75,000) in promising young companies in the sector twice a year.

Managing director Micah Kotch told Compelo: “We’ve funded some of the most interesting companies who are working to improve city living, and we work with start-ups from all around the world.

“We started this about two years ago – we’re in the fourth programme now – and what we’re seeing is a really interesting evolution of what we consider to be urban tech.”

The most recent cohort includes everything from fashionable, yet protective, bicycle helmet manufacturers to urban outdoor space providers.

Urban tech start-ups: Rentlogic

New Yorkers looking for a quick and comprehensive rundown of the heath and safety standards of a property can use Rentlogic, originally founded in September 2013.

Its building certification programme was designed together with building owners, residents, policymakers and real estate professionals, and provides a grading system including A (excellent), B (good), C (needs improvement), F (unacceptable).

The company’s website includes a downloadable tool which displays Rentlogic on property sites helping to make the process more convenient.

Urban tech start-ups: Sapient Industries

Sapient Industries has developed an autonomous energy management system that senses and learns human behaviour in order to eliminate wasted energy in buildings.

The Sapient System uses machine learning to control the power supply for every device in a building.

It also provides insights into the types of plugged-in devices and their real-time power consumption – in addition to foot-traffic analytics, which helps users improve the efficiency of their energy management.

urban tech start-ups
Sapient Industries’ sensor module

Urban tech start-ups: Avvir

Avvir provides automated quality assurance for the construction industry, providing real-time insights into the progress and potential defects on various projects.

Going back to fix problems that occurred earlier on in a project, or “rework” as it’s known in the industry, accounts for 10% of total construction costs.

But Avvir says it can help to prevent this by highlighting issues as and when they arise.

It uses automated data acquisition, visualisation and analysis to speed up the process.

 

Urban tech start-ups: Campsyte

City dwellers are able to book outdoor sites in urban areas for social events through Campsyte, which is in beta at the moment.

Currently operating in and around San Francisco and San Jose, the start-up seeks to capitalise on the scientifically proven facts that cities with easy access to nature and ample opportunity for social interaction have happier citizens.

urban tech start-ups
One of Campsyte’s urban outdoor spaces

It addition to providing people with outdoor locations, the company’s website also has the option for people to list their own space for rent if they have a suitable area.

 

Urban tech start-ups: Open Data Nation

Open Data Nation analyses billions of public data records for cities and insurance carriers to predict and proactively prevent problems.

Using Hopper, a machine learning engine, the start-up delivers comprehensible information about likely car crash areas, as well as insight about restaurants that are likely to fail health inspections, among other issues.

In addition, the tool also analyses the aggregated data in order to help cities prepare for the seamless implementation of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles.

Urban tech start-ups: Park & Diamond

Park & Diamond is a Brooklyn-based start-up founded in October 2015 that seeks to help improve the safety of cycling in cities.

It centres on finding a balance between style, comfort and safety by providing headgear that offers all the protection of a typical bike helmet but without the cumbersome design.

urban tech start-ups
One of Park and Diamond’s helmets in use

The next-generation materials used provide a safer, more portable helmet that can roll up into the shape of a water bottle for easier carrying, while looking like a regular hat, cap or beanie.

 

Urban tech start-ups: ClearRoad

Founded in January 2017, ClearRoad helps government agencies automate toll road pricing for any section of road without the need for traditional proprietary hardware infrastructure.

Currently, its website only enables potential customers to register an interest.