URBAN-X holds first-ever virtual Demo Day for seventh startup cohort

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URBAN-X holds first-ever virtual Demo Day for seventh startup cohort

Micah Kotch, managing director of URBAN-X, introduces the Cohort 06 companies at the previous Demo Day in fall 2019. (Courtesy MINI)

This afternoon, city-reimagining startup accelerator URBAN-X hosted its first Demo Day of 2020 a bit differently. In lieu of a live event—typically a sort of graduation ceremony-cum-formal group pitch session followed by a lively evening party—as normal at its Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based headquarters within the (temporarily closed) A/D/O creative hub, the MINI-founded accelerator is unveiling the work of the seven startups that participated in URBAN-X’s seventh-to-date cohort group to date via an online presentation program.

Like with Demo Days past, the virtual event gave each of the seven Cohort 07 companies, all fresh off of URBAN-X’s immersive 20-week accelerator program, an opportunity to publicly debut a range of “hardware and software solutions to combat the world’s climate emergency and other emerging challenges impacting cities” to potential investors, public sector leaders, and the general public.

You can watch the entirety of Demo Day 07, which includes pitches from all seven Cohort 07 companies starting at 1:00 p.m. EST followed by a Q&A session.

In addition to showcasing scalable and distinctly urban tech solutions to the climate crisis (an emphasis theme tied into the 50th anniversary of Earth Day), Demo Day 07 paid special mind to how nascent tech companies can respond—and are already responding—to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. And as it turns out, a handful of URBAN-X startups past and present are directly involved in pandemic response. For example, EVA, a Cohort 07 company specializing in infrastructure and airborne logistics for healthcare- and emergency-related drone operations, has already begun working with partners in Europe and New York State to deploy large modular drone docking stations that help to curb supply chain disruptions and aid in the delivery of essential supplies to pharmacies, healthcare facilities, and homebound populations.

URBAN-X alumni aiding cities in their response to the pandemic include AO Air, Circuit, Food For All, GreenQ, Near Space Labs, Numina, Thrilling, and Upshift.

In addition to EVA, the six other URBAN-X companies that presented during Demo Day 07 were:

  • Therma, a startup with offices in San Francisco and the Philippines that’s also currently playing a role in pandemic response, showcased its “IoT-based, 24/7 equipment monitoring solution that eliminates product loss, improves food safety, and provides data-driven refrigeration management.”
  • Toronto-based ChargeLab pitched its open software platform for electric vehicle charging that makes the process smarter, more precise, and less onerous. Per the company, the proprietary management system “enables key features like billing and energy management, ensuring more EV drivers can charge without disrupting the grid.”
  • Based in Tel-Aviv, Firmus will presented its AI-based error-curbing technology for the construction industry—an industry where, as the firm points out, companies have “increasing difficulty learning from past mistakes.” The solution “provides real-time alerts on potential errors, constructability issues and risks, based on industry’s historical data and experience.”
  • Nodding to the god of the underworld, Swiss startup Hades elaborated on its automated assessment system for sewage infrastructure. Per the company: “Using deep learning, Hades automatically identifies defects in sewer inspection videos and tells engineers when and how to repair the sewers, saving time and money while protecting the environment.”
  • Metalmark, a Boston-based nanotechnology startup, presented a highly innovative solution to sometimes lethal urban air pollution in the form of “nanoarchitectured materials for highly efficient catalytic destruction of air pollutants, making clean air globally accessible and affordable.”
  • Last but not least, Brooklyn-based Unety pitched a sustainability-minded real estate financing platform that “empowers building owners and contractors with new capabilities, enabling them to make complex financial decisions and to match with the best capital providers.”

“Building creative solutions for a brighter urban life is in our DNA,” said Micah Kotch, managing director of URBAN-X . “As the need for solutions for local resilience has come into clearer focus across the world over the past weeks, we could not be more proud of the dedication Cohort 07 has shown in addressing large-scale challenges to improve city life.”

Despite the challenges presented by running a hands-on startup accelerator during a global pandemic, URBAN-X will launch Cohort 08 as planned in June with a fresh batch of urban solution-oriented startups seeking to make the next big step. It will be the first cohort held completely online.

“URBANX looks for the brightest startups creating disruptive and scalable solutions across sectors such as public health and safety, food, water, energy, construction, mobility, and more,” read a statement announcing Cohort 08. “With an existing portfolio of companies in public health and safety, paired with the unprecedented health and economic challenges resulting from COVID-19, this also includes new companies that can aid in COVID-19 response efforts and related impacts, such as solutions for first responders and those on the frontlines of the pandemic; those that support elderly, vulnerable and isolated populations; and those that ease pressures on government services.”

Founded in 2016 by BMW Group-owned automobile company MINI and backed by venture firm Urban Us, each individual startup company selected to participate in an URBAN-X cohort—up to 10 companies per five-month “class” in total—is awarded up to $150,000 in seed money while being provided with invaluable in-house resources and expertise to help them further suss out and then secure funding for disruptive, problem-solving solutions for the urban built environment.