URBAN-X at BMW Next 100

How can we create a brighter urban life? Innovators from BMW and URBAN-X discussed creative solutions for the future of cities, and the role of automobiles in it all, at their Next100 event in Santa Monica on October 14th. More than 250 leaders of the West Coast technology venture, mobility and smart cities ecosystem were in attendance.  

BMW’s MINI business unit and SOSV (the venture firm behind HAX Accelerator) founded startup accelerator URBAN-X earlier this year to focus on engineering the city as a service. The program has become a home for creative entrepreneurs from around the globe who are improving cities through technology, passion, and design.

Micah Kotch, managing director of URBAN-X for MINI, said, “This is about more than just creating seamlessness between the car and the road; it’s really about designing a livable city at a time of great challenge and opportunity. The future of the automobile is by definition the future of the cities.”

Three of the entrepreneurs who were part of the first round of participants presented their ideas at the Next100 event in Santa Monica: Multimer, Brooklyness, and CTY. Each participant was in the NYC-based program for 3½ months and worked with BMW and MINI designers and engineers to develop their products and services.

  • Multimer uses wearable biosensor technology, known as MindRider, to measure the wearer’s brain responses to the objects around them as they commute through a city. The data is then used to help companies make decisions on retail strategy, real estate and advertising.
  • Brooklyness has designed a smart bike helmet to make riding a bike in the city safer by increasing environmental awareness and visibility.
  • CTY has created Numina, which analyzes real-time insights from the traffic on a city street, to help urban planners realize how an intersection is being used. It measures how many pedestrians are present at a certain time of day, how many delivery trucks and buses go by, and even how many people in wheelchairs or pushing strollers are present.

There will be 10 companies chosen for the next round of entrepreneurs participating in the URBAN-X accelerator for the winter 2017 session. Applications are being accepted through November 29th.

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Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder, CEO and MINI brand ambassador, closed the show by riding in on his skateboard to talk about the importance of creating new technology for cities, including the creation of public skate parks. Tony’s foundation has created more than 500 public skate parks in low-income urban areas.