Some focus on companies in the smart city space, while some work directly with the cities themselves
For startups, there are numerous paths for getting their name out there. One way, which Vator has been covering recently, are startup competitions, but another popular method to get a foot in the door, as well as some funding and traction, are accelerators. These are programs that provide companies advice, guidance and various forms of support for startups in their early stages. They also often invest in the companies, for a certain equity stake.
Need a list of startup competitions, challenges, accelerators, etc. from around the world? Check out VatorX. You can find them, or list yours!
There are some very well-known accelerators out there, including Y Combinator and 500 Startups, which have made their names through various successful alumni. Those programs fairly general, accepting companies from a variety of different spaces.
For some companies, it may help to join an accelerator that only focuses on their specific area. That's especially true for those in more specialized spaces, which will have their own unique challenges and regulations.
One of those areas that requires some additional expertise are those that are looking to build up cities.
There are some accelerators that are focused specifically on mentoring companies in that space, while others work directly with the cities themselves.
"As local government resources contract and challenges ranging from economic inequality to infrastructure compound, cities must design new and more effective responses. Cities are increasingly looking for ways to implement promising innovations that will have a significant impact in the lives of their residents, especially those with low incomes. The City Accelerator, an initiative of Living Cities and the Citi Foundation, aims to help accelerate the adoption of such innovations within and across cities."
Investment amount: The City Accelerator helps translate dialogue into action by giving cities seed funding.
Program benefits: Each City Accelerator cohort works together over an 18-month period and uses a host of supports and resources to accelerate progress on their work, including:
- Coaching, tactical support and implementation resources;
- Grants; and,
- Opportunities to work with and learn from other cities and leading practitioners through facilitated conference calls, webinars and in-person convenings.
Mentor makeup: Nigel Jacob, Eric Gordon, Jen Mayer
Portfolio: City Accelerator works with cities, rather than companies. So far it has partnered with Louisville, Nashville, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans, Seattle, Pittsburgh, St. Paul, San Francisco and Washington, DC.
"We accelerate and invest in technology that shapes the cities of tomorrow"
Investment amount: Upon accepting the invitation to participate, the startup will issue a $50,000 convertible security that will convert in their next round of funding.
Once the program is complete, there is an opportunity for an investment through Dreamit Ventures, its fund dedicated to graduates of the Dreamit program.
Program benefits: Accepted companies will enter a 14-week virtual and in person hybrid program designed specifically to accelerate startups with enterprise customers.
Founders receive faccess to Dreamit’s customer and investor network, including the opportunity to interface with the $3 billion Tampa Bay Urban Redevelopment Initiative led by Strategic Property Partners, a joint venture between Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investments.
- 2-week, multi-city Customer Immersion Roadshow designed to help jumpstart your partnership, trial, and sales pipelines through in-depth customer meetings with key strategic partners and customers you can reference in fundraising documents and marketing materials.
- Access to some of the world's most active VCs during two week East and West Coast Investor Roadshow as well as one-on-one introductions from our vast network of early-stage investors.
- Coaching, insight, and hardcore pressure testing and de-risking via weekly office hours with managing directors
- Weekly webinars and panel discussions with industry leaders around the topics that matter most for early-stage companies
Portfolio companies: Program will begin in September 2017
"URBAN-X is organized by MINI and Urban Us. MINI experts guide founders in design, manufacturing, engineering, marketing, community building and branding. Urban Us connects startups with the leading community of founders, investors, companies and city officials. Together, we’ve invested in many of the leading startups working on city solutions."
Investment amount: Every six months it invests $100,000 in up to 10 companies.
Program benefits: Each URBAN-X cohort enters into 20 immersive weeks of product development and network-building.
It offers working trips to Munich, San Francisco and other cities are designed to help companis meet customers, investors, and partners. URBAN-X companies work shoulder-to-shoulder with world-class electrical and mechanical engineers, industrial design talent from MINI and BMW, user-experience and interface designers – as well as insights from leaders in growth hacking, sales and communications/marketing.
Mentor makeup: The accelerator offers sccess to a full-time team of resident experts in customer and investment strategy, mechanical engineering, communications, urbanism and design. Teams that are accepted to URBAN-X will be matched with the right groups of mentors, advisors and prospective partners and customers.
Portfolio companies: O2-O2, Envairo, Citiesense, contextere, Revmax, Sencity, Upcycles, WearWorks
"From a pool of hundreds of impressive applicants, over a four-stage selection process including in-person site visits, we chose 10 incredible, game-changing ventures serving poor or vulnerable populations in U.S. cities."
Investment amount: $100,000 in grant funding, from Unreasonable Institute
- A 5-day, in-person bootcamp to help companies prepare for scale
- Paid admission to SOCAP, the world’s largest gathering of impact investors and entrepreneurs.
- 6 months of guidance from 3 – 4 mentors, an executive coach, & pro bono financial modeling,
Mentor makeup: Jennifer Dulski, Tom Chi, Brian Dixon, Josh Horwitz
Portfolio companies: CommonLit, Learn Fresh, EveryoneOn, Propel
"At Singularity University we see a global network of connected cities leading the next wave of innovation, and the SU Smart City Accelerator in Columbus, Ohio is where it all begins."
Investment amount: The Singularity University Smart City Accelerator will be supported by SU in its first long-term program outside of Silicon Valley and sponsored locally by American Electric Power and NCT Ventures. Each of the 10 selected businesses will be eligible to receive up to $100,000 in funding from NCT Ventures.
Program benefits: SU will provide help accessing Singularity University faculty and programs, identify mentors from large companies and startups across the globe to provide expertise on industry and technology, and assign mentors to the team for which their expertise will be most valuable. Other sponsors will facilitate web services, legal support, financial services, and tax planning for the ten businesses.
Portfolio companies: The smart city-focused startup accelerator began accepting its first applications May 15, 2017.
Cyberview Living Lab Accelerator is the signature program of Finnext Capital. It is a collaborative effort between government, corporates, entrepreneurs and VCs to accelerate and nurture FinTech and IoT focused tech startups. It is a network-driven enabler for startups that aim at transforming the conventional approach to the technology industry (FinTech and IoT) by embracing digital advancement with a scalable business model.
Investment amount: The accelerator does not take any equity.
- Opening opportunities to partner with corporates and residents in Cyberjaya to try and adopt your solutions whilst tapping into the exclusive database of the smart city.
- Value added services which includes digital marketing, creative services, advertising media services, legal support, operational (day-to-day management), HR assistance, finance know-how to propel your company to the next level
Portfolio companies: Billplz, CurrenSeek, Otomate Me, PrimeKeeper, TrackerHero
"The Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) is a public-private collaboration that turns global expertise into action to accelerate local government implementation of building efficiency policies and programs."
Investment amount: While the Accelerator is not a grant-making organization, a primary BEA goal is to offer participants insight into their options for financial and other support and to connect cities with funding opportunities and financing mechanisms. The BEA partnership has technical resources at cities’ disposal in the form of tools, knowledge products, workshops, and trainings, along with the institutional knowledge of the partners.
Program benefits: Cities and subnational governments that join the Accelerator are asked to make three specific commitments to be implemented with assistance from the partnership:
- Implement one enabling policy
- Implement one demonstration project
- Create a baseline of building energy performance, track and report annual progress, and share experiences and best-practices with other governments
BEA cities will be offered tools for gathering input from stakeholders and for prioritizing policies. Through a series of trainings, webinars, regional conferences, and other support, each city will improve their capacity to act and create a deeper engagement with interested parties. In addition, a few cities will work in-depth with the partnership in an intensive multi-stakeholder process.
Portfolio cities: Alba Iulia, Belgrade, Bogotá, Bucharest, Dubai, Mexico City, Warsaw
"In partnership with Ferrovial, we are looking to select growth-stage startups working to solve the challenges of urbanization by optimizing resource consumption and improving services through better management of supply and demand in urban life activities."
Investment amount: The startups that are selected for the program will receive €100,000 equity free — up to €250,000 for the best projects — as well as training and mentoring and the option to receive private investment from one of its partner investors and VCs: Kibo Ventures, Accelerace, INVESDOR.
Program benefits: The three-month acceleration program, led by ISDI and Accelerace, is de-localized, which means that startups can receive training, mentoring, and funding without having to move to another city or country.
This means that startups don’t need to go through the hassle of establishing themselves in a foreign place, but can rather focus their efforts on expanding their business, attending the world’s top startup events, training camps, and networking events in Madrid, Copenhagen, London, Tel Aviv, and more.
Mentor makeup: Simon Lee, Oscar Gallego, Marina Zaliznyak, Marco Donadoni, Fuencisla Clemares
Portfolio companies: Albert, Easy Stay, Kukua, Prior, Appalytics
"Smart City Works was created to galvanize innovation and enable commercialization uniquely focused on improving civil infrastructure (the “built environment”) and livability in cities. Through the creation of a new business accelerator, and the first business “actuator”, Smart City Works will help startups and mature companies transition new ideas or inventions into viable growing businesses that deliver high-impact solutions to make cities smarter, safer, and more resilient."
Investment amount: Funds up to $50k per team, and takes up to 8 percent equity
Program benefits: A 3-5 month boot-camp with a multi-pronged curriculum to help optimize technology, refine business plans, enhance operations, and advance product development.
- Pairing with industry mentors and executives to guide you through the journey
- Ideation services to move beyond ideas to commercial reality
- State of the art design tools from Autodesk, IBM, Interdigital, and others
- Access to world class technical support through our network of partners, universities, and laboratories
- Access to maker spaces, labs, and design studios to turn innovations into mature products
- Business services: legal, finance, accounting, and others
- Introductions to industry partners and collaborators
- Access to a one-of-a-kind network of test beds and pilot cities
- Investments into your company and access to investors during and after the program
- A unique demonstration day to link you to industry, investors, and government officials
Portfolio companies: IHT, UNOMICEDGE, Infraccess, Capital Construction Solutions, PlanITimpact, GreaterPlaces
(Image source: techrepublic.com)