Singularity University Columbus Smart City Accelerator Concludes With 13 Startups Working to Bring Exponential Technologies to Market
Co-Sponsored by American Electric Power and NCT Ventures, the Accelerator Helped Startups Refine Solutions, Secure Funding, Meet Strategic Partners
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF., and COLUMBUS, OHIO – Nov. 15, 2017 – Singularity University, a global community with a mission to educate, inspire, and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges, today announced its first Smart City Accelerator in Columbus, Ohio will conclude on November 16, 2017 with a closing ceremony and presentations from the 13 startup companies that participated. Co-sponsored by Columbus-based American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) and NCT Ventures, the two-and-a-half month accelerator helped these innovative businesses make advancements and grow their companies which are dedicated to building and bringing to market breakthrough transportation, municipal service, energy efficient, network infrastructure, and workforce solutions.
The accelerator cohort was selected from a pool of 400 global applicants based on their innovative ideas and expertise in using emerging or exponential technologies to solve urban challenges and give rise to smarter cities. The teams were assigned business and technology mentors and given access to the SU faculty and global community of experts. NCT Ventures committed $1 million to startups completing the program, with teams receiving up to $100,000 in funding.
“SU is at the intersection of business, exponential technology, and global impact,” said Nick Davis, vice president of Corporate Innovation at SU. “We are gratified that the Singularity University Columbus Smart City Accelerator has already proven itself. It is a perfect example of how SU envisions the future, where startups, enterprise businesses, and federal, local, state governments come together to build a better, more abundant life for everyone.”
“With the Smart City Accelerator, we were able to attract some of the brightest minds to bring their smart city solutions to Columbus, while leveraging regional assets to help move their companies forward,” said Rich Langdale, Managing Partner, NCT Ventures. “This is just the beginning. We are excited to continue partnering with these dynamic startups as they shape the future of smart cities, improve standards of living, and create jobs for our economy.”
Highlights of the SU Columbus Smart City Accelerator
HAAS Alert (www.haasalert.com), a realtime mobile vehicle-to-vehicle safety service connecting motorists with city agencies and first responder services, was looking for the Accelerator to give them greater access to the city of Columbus to showcase their solution and initiate potential pilots. “We’d like to make Columbus a case study for future development with other cities and municipalities,” said Noah Levens, Co-founder and COO of HAAS Alert. “As more city and community partners adopt our service, we will reduce congestion and provide greater safety and faster routes, avoid unnecessary collisions, and save lives. HAAS Alert believes smart cities are safe cities.”
Onseen (www.onseen.com), a location-driven platform and collaboration app for mobile teams, had three goals for the Accelerator: refine their approach and business model, and get introductions to potential customers and investors. “The SU staff has been aggressively making introductions and finding opportunities for us,” said Onseen CEO Mike Lanese. “NCT Ventures is our lead investor and has been instrumental in helping us refine our approach and our pitches, and we hope to announce a significant pilot program in the near future.”
SafeChain (www.safechain.io), a blockchain solution that eliminates fraud and redundancies in real estate, wanted to further its partnerships with state and local government officials to make land records accessible to the public. With help from the accelerator, SafeChain will be announcing their first public-private partnership in 2017, as well as dozens of new firms interested in the seed round. “SU has a great reputation among corporate partners. Its content related to exponential thinking and the strategic planning workshop were important to us,” said Tony Franco, Co-founder and CEO of SafeChain. “NCT Ventures proved to be the highlight of the program because they took the time to deeply understand our business. We’d like other cities to see the benefits of working with technology startups to solve government challenges. We think states like Ohio that are helpful and accommodating of innovation stand to make significant impact on the standard of living for their citizens.”
Mentored (www.mentored.com) is a learning, coaching and high-frequency engagement platform that enables organizations to teach, motivate, assist, and guide people through important phases in their lives, including job placement. Mentored was looking to make connections that would lead to new opportunities, validate their product, and learn how to optimize their go-to-market plans. “Our mission is to improve opportunities in workforce development, scale and democratize access to affordable academic help by working with schools and community colleges, and ultimately empower members of the Columbus community to volunteer in our programs for unprecedented public/private partnerships for the betterment of all,” said Mark Yosowitz, President of Mentored. As a result of the Accelerator, Mentored is in discussions to launch a pilot with The PAST Foundation in Columbus, an independent Education R&D Prototyping Lab, that has placed seven early college high school students in internships with Accelerator startups AVE AutoMedia, AltaVista, and Mentored to provide them with real-world experience.
Altovista Technology, a data collection and machine learning management cloud service providing supervisors with identification of high-risk employees and remediation and training processes. The first generation solution has been deployed in city police departments and is under review in Columbus. “SU provided us with mentors, intellectual capital, and exposure to exponential thinking, while NCT Ventures provided us with funding and guidance,” said Bo Chang, Co-founder and CEO of Altavista. “We believe that a Smart City needs Smart Policing. We are bringing Smart Policing solutions to communities, creating a safer and more sustainable environment for people to live, work, and play.”
Nikola Labs (www.nikola.tech), a provider of chipsets for wireless charging for the Internet of Things, was looking for opportunities to find partnership and customer opportunities for projects within the Smart City initiative. “Wireless power will have a significant effect on the Internet of Things,” said Will Zell, CEO of Nikola Labs. “We are still in the early days, but hope to support and enable greater initiatives within the City of Columbus, as we work to become the city of the future.”
SHARE (www.ridewithshare.com) is mobility-as-a-service for smart cities. SHARE uses a technology platform designed to manage a shared vehicle fleet that integrates with smart city data systems. SHARE provides transportation subscriptions for commuters, seniors, and students. SHARE utilizes professional drivers and a multimodal network of shared vehicles to provide scheduled and on-demand rides for a flat rate. SHARE now supports a growing schedule of over 200 weekly routes in Columbus.
inTouch (intouchapplication.com), a mobile app connects citizens to city resources and allows cities to monitor interactions through Cisco’s Smart + Connected Platform, wanted introductions to major organizations, with the hopes of forming partnerships or taking them on as customers. “This accelerator has been different in that the organizers and their networks were focused on helping us exponentially grow our presence in markets as opposed to just using the program as a strict curriculum to teach us the do's and don't's of running a startup,” said Alex Bernot, inTouch CEO. “The accelerator has done a very good job putting us on a common level as some of the world's most renowned smart city solutions providers. We want to be in every city that is experiencing hyper-urbanization to help them monitor and manage in a more effective way.”
JadeTrack (www.jadetrack.com) Cloud-based software platform that empowers organizations to maximize energy efficiency and sustainability by automating utility bills, ENERGY STAR facility benchmarking, and real-time monitoring. Prior to the accelerator, AEP Ohio selected JadeTrack to deliver an automated platform for ENERGY STAR® benchmarking.
GridCure (www.gridcure.com) Provider of off-the-shelf SaaS analytics for power utilities to help improve reliability, prevent outages, and increase revenue, all without needing any additional sensors or servers. GridCure has been working with AEP for over a year, and is currently running their third project of analysis of the smart meter data of 600,000 homes and businesses.
Buzz Solutions (buzzsolutions.co) Autonomous drones and predictive analytics that help automate the process of power line inspection for power utility companies.
AEP (www.aep.com) Power the Road Team is working to develop an Electric Vehicle subscription plan for charging vehicles to residences, public charging infrastructures, and fleets.
AEP (www.aep.com) Smart Street Light Team is focused on integrating lighting, sensors, security and video, as well as data analytics into intelligent city infrastructures to improve quality of life, enhance economic growth, and address city challenges.
As a result of the accelerator, three of the startups are in discussion regarding a pilot with Columbus-based PAST Foundation, an independent Education R&D Prototyping Lab recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for its excellence in STEM education and transformative workforce development. AVE AutoMedia, AltaVista and Mentored have invited seven early college/high school students to join them as interns. “These internships with the Smart City startups foster innovative problem-solving, giving students an authentic work experience and the confidence to see themselves as the future of startups,” said Dr. Annalies Corbin, President & CEO of PAST Foundation.
About Smart Columbus
As the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Smart Cities Challenge, Columbus was awarded funding and designated America’s Smart City; but more importantly it also won the coveted job as global teacher for cities around the world on how to “become Smart” by embracing the reinvention of transportation to accelerate human progress. Columbus received a total of $50 million in the form of two grants: $40 million from USDOT and $10 million from Vulcan, Inc., a Paul Allen company. These dollars provided the seed funding for Smart Columbus, a region-wide Smart City initiative co-led by the City of Columbus and Columbus Partnership. The City of Columbus, under the leadership of Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, will administer the deployment of these funds for the duration of the grant period, which concludes at the end of 2020. The Columbus Partnership, representing the Columbus Region’s private sector, is the lead implementation partner for the grant program and is responsible for the initiative’s Acceleration Fund, which is credited as a significant factor in Columbus’ winning of the challenge. The Acceleration Fund, which started out with $90 million of commitments now totals more than $500 million and is composed of coordinated and aligned investments by the private sector to complement, scale, and sustain Smart Columbus projects and programs. This number will continue to increase as new partnerships are formed to reach the goal of $1 billion by 2020. For more information, visit www.columbus.gov/smartcolumbus.
ABOUT SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY
Singularity University (SU) is a global learning and innovation community using exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges and build an abundant future for all. SU's collaborative platform empowers individuals and organizations across the globe to learn, connect, and innovate breakthrough solutions using accelerating technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital biology. A certified benefit corporation headquartered at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, SU was founded in 2008 by renowned innovators Ray Kurzweil and Peter H. Diamandis with program funding from leading organizations including Google, Deloitte, and UNICEF. To learn more, visit SU.org, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @SingularityU, and download the SingularityU Hub mobile app.
ABOUT NCT VENTURES
NCT Ventures partners with innovators. With over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, NCT provides funding and hands-on operational support for seed and early stage technology companies that are disrupting major industries. Located in Columbus, Ohio, NCT is Midwest focused and is committed to developing a collaborative ecosystem that empowers founders to succeed. For more information, visit www.nctventures.com.
Shelby Corradino for SU