By Barak Epstein, Co-Founder, SmartAustin
There is an enormous global opportunity for startups to bring new technologies and solutions to cities and help solve major civic challenges such as transportation, health, energy and pollution. The Smart Cities Startup Challenge is a unique opportunity for startups to pitch, engage and receive feedback from city officials and representatives as well as investors and thought leaders in this space.
Smart Cities Connect and SmartAustin.org proudly announce the winners of the 2017 Smart Cities Startup Challenge. The event was held on June 26 at the second annual Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo, its second year in Austin, Texas. This year’s conference welcomed 1,800 attendees and, among them, fourteen startups competed.
The winners were:
1st place: Smarter Sorting, an Austin-based company employs analytics and custom sensors to remove materials from the waste stream and prepare them for sale to designated buyers. Smarter Sorting saves municipalities money by allowing them to forgo incineration fees and reduces cities’ environmental footprint.
2nd place: Tolemi, a Boston-based company collects large amounts of property and neighborhood data into “a simple, online dashboard.” Municipalities have successfully used the Tolemi solution to make predictions about areas at-risk for vacancies and urban decay, allowing them to intervene before problems progress.
3rd place: SPLT, initially founded in Detroit, developed a ridesharing platform that focuses on connecting commuters from larger companies interested in saving gas money and getting to better know their colleagues. The solution also appeals to firms looking to improve employee lifestyle and interaction.
“Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. These three and, in fact, most of our finalists want to solve real-world problems right now. They’re responding to real pains for governance, mobility, civic engagement and more,” said Smart Cities Connect managing editor Laura Benold. “At a time when cities must balance limited investment dollars against an ever evolving future, this formula works.”
Competition judges came from local and national investment firms: Live Oak Venture Partners, True Wealth Ventures, Dreamit Ventures, SJF Ventures, and data.world; as well as from leading smart cities municipalities including Austin, Boston, and San Jose. Questions focused heavily on the relevance of offerings to municipal needs and procurement processes, as well as on traditional business metrics.
“We were incredibly excited about the opportunity to showcase so many great startups that leveraged technologies such as machine learning, IoT, artificial intelligence, robotics, micro-turbines and next-generation sensors to address all sorts of city issues and challenges. The Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo was an ideal venue for these startups to interact with an audience and judging panel that is both extremely engaged in technology and in their respective city’s futures,” said SmartAustin co-founder Jonathan Ha.
Smart Cities Connect and SmartAustin.org proudly collaborated this year to draw attention to the innovation opportunity in this domain, both locally and globally. Next year’s Smart Cities Connect Conference will migrate to Kansas City on March 26-29, 2018. SmartAustin.org will continue to highlight the work of the contest winners, and to facilitate, where possible, the expanded adoption of these lifestyle-enhancing solutions.