Earlier this year, Leading Cities, a global network for Smart City growth and collaboration, has launched a global Smart City startup accelerator program that provides potential capital from a network of investors as well as the tools and knowledge of how to do business with cities. In this year’s edition, 27 semi-finalists have been selected from more than 550 applications from over 40 countries. From this global pack of urban innovators, three startups emerged as AcceliCITY winners—one for each track of the AcceliCITY program (clean energy, city visualization, and general tracks).
With 60 percent of the oceans’ waste coming from Asia, the 2018 AcceliCITY champion is Solu—a startup solving the enormous waste collection issue in developing countries with a powerful tool to support poorer communities and incentivize behavioral change. Headquartered in the Philippines, Solu impressed judges not only with its simple, human-centric approach but also its potential to globally impact the safety and quality of our ocean waters. In addition to 6 months of Leading Consulting support, Solu will be featured in the Leading Cities Pavilion at the Smart City Expo World Congress—the world’s largest Smart City event—held in Barcelona next month.
Sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the Clean Energy Smart Challenge provided free incubation space and support in Massachusetts. The winner of this Smart Challenge was PurCity of Denmark, a nanotechnology solution to purify city air indoors and out. This innovative solution combats the existing threat of air pollution from which more than 8 million people die from each year.
The City Visualization Smart Challenge was designed by the city of Sabadell, Spain which has a mission to use new Smart City visualization technologies, as in virtual reality, smart signaling, video conference, webcams, beacons, embarked cameras, outdoor interactive screens, 3D modelling and the like to further the efficiency and livability of their city and increase citizen engagement. With this mission, they will test emerging technologies for city visualization, as tools to promote Sabadell’s citizen participation 2.0 and increase its social cohesion. Sabadell selected Sweden VR as their winner. Sweden VR, a global virtual reality/augmented reality sustainable development goals education and innovation library, will now be fast-tracked toward a pilot program in Sabadell in 2019 and will receive the full support of the city to assist in entering the Barcelona regional market.
The AcceliCITY program consists of a 6-week web-based curriculum for semi-finalists and a week-long Smart City Boot Camp for the 12 finalists, both aimed to connect some of the world’s most promising smart city startups with mentors, experts in cutting-edge market strategies, angel and VC investors, world-renowned public speaking coaches and veterans of B2G business development among others.
This year’s winners were selected by a distinguished panel of judges representing three perspectives of the Smart City Ecosystem—government, venture capital, and corporations. The judges included VC’s (Tectonic Ventures, Urban US), corporate investors (Boeing HorizonX, Philips) and public-sector decision makers (Boston City Council and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center).
The total value of in-kind prizes given out to finalists exceeds $500,000. This was possible thanks to the generosity of multiple sponsors and partners, including the Bee Smart City platform, Luso-American Development Foundation, Kevin P. Martin & Associates P.C., Diputacio de Barcelona, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
Leading Cities has developed the AcceliCITY program to further strengthen Boston’s position as a global leader in Smart City innovation, a globally growing market at 20% a year. Boston is already being recognized by entrepreneurs innovating for social change as the best place to get funding. AcceliCITY aims to reinforce this by serving as a magnet that is attracting international startups to visit the city, experience the supportive network and learn about numerous public and private development opportunities in Massachusetts.
The goal of the program is to facilitate sustainable growth, resiliency and quality-of-life improvements for cities around the world by addressing the critical needs of Smart City startups, which are developing the innovative solutions to city challenges in the 21st century.
At its core, AcceliCITY leverages the Leading Cities network of forward thinkers in the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors. The program lowers the cost of innovation for startups as well as cities and corporations by streamlining the innovation and sales cycles for Smart City solutions. With growing operations in ten countries and an international network of mentors, investors, and partners with ready access to decision-makers in city governments, Leading Cities’ AcceliCITY program connects startup’s smart solutions directly with business users and provides the proper channels and know-how to deploy in cities.
Leading Cities is a global non-profit organization that improves the quality of life in cities through the development of “Smart Ecosystems.” The organization is a pioneer in city diplomacy, sharing best practices and promoting Smart City innovations to cities worldwide.