Columbus welcomes urban problem solvers with new accelerator

Every American city hopes it couldbetter supporttechnology, entrepreneurship and infrastructure, unfortunatelyfew actually have the resources to set truly ambitious goals into motion. But Columbus, Ohio, having secured $40 million in awards to improve access to transportation and ready itself for autonomous vehicles, is one city actually in a position to take risks. Itslatest, a smart city accelerator assembled by Singularity University, NCT Ventures and American Electric Power( AEP ), aims to simultaneously lure businesses to the region while building solutionstopublic sector problems.

Locally based NCT Ventures is putting up$ 1 million to form the new accelerator.Startups that have developed products and services that improve the operation ofcities will be eligible for up to $100,000 in investment. Singularity University, the ambitious project of Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil, will give specialized instruction and mentorship to each of the startups selected while AEP, a locally available energy corporation, will be helping during the selection process, receiving its own teach from Singularity and maintaining an eye onstartups along the way.

Our intention is to find best available working companies , not just minds that fit criteria, explained Rich Langdale in an interview, managing spouse at NCT Ventures.

NCT will have a financial interest in each of the startups selected, but Langdale told him that the firm aims to incubate rather than suffocate. Instead of prioritizing things like privileges to follow on investment, NCT is collaborating withother Ohioinvestors as part ofVenture Ohio, a statewide advocate for entrepreneurship. Singularity is takinga similar ideological approaching , observes that it craves its relationship with startups in the cohort to last well beyond itsartificial point date.

We try to think of this as a lifetime partnership, Nick Davis, vice president of corporate innovation forSingularity University, told me.

Columbus isnt the first city in the United States to call a smart metropolitans accelerator residence. Washington D.C.sSmart City Works has worked with startups like IHT andCapital Construction Solutions, companiesbringing transparency to building and enabling better monitoring of municipal water systems respectively. In New York City, Urban-X is doing much the same supporting Envairo, a startup ensuringspace is apportioned optimally within big buildings andCitiesense, a startup delivering fresh data to real estate.

But beforeColumbuss own programopens its doorways in September, it will have to prove itself adept at balancing public and private concerns. On one hand, itsimportant that the accelerator itself be economically viable. If NCT is able to deliver returns to its own investors, that sends a signalto other investors that Columbus is capable of incubating real industries that serve municipalities.

But that supposed, startups should also be addressing specific problems that are part of Columbusssmart city initiative and immediately contribute to the citys growth.The city has been wrangling supplementary private dollars at an impressive gait in the aftermath of winning the U.S. Department of Transportations Smart City Challenge and there is no famine of mobility, transport and infrastructure startups in need of capital and strategic partners weaving the needle is well within reach.

Applications to the program will open on May 15 th. Additional info for interested parties can be found at the Singularity University area .

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