What Happened: $100k Smart Cities Challenge

What Happened: $100k Smart Cities Challenge

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Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, expanding by an average of 159 people per day from 2016-17. This explosive growth can lead to challenges, as Austin and cities across the world work to provide the fundamental necessities to grow — new mobility options, accessible and affordable housing, and clean energy.

Although technology isn’t the answer to all our problems, it has always been a driving force in the growth of a city. Smart cities applications, in particular, have arisen in recent years as a means of helping to tackle those challenges.

That’s the background that led Austin Tech Alliance to partner on the $100k Smart Cities Challenge. With the goal of benefiting the City of Austin and its residents, ATA teamed up with Capital FactoryMobilityX, and the City of Austin to offer one tech startup with a killer idea a $100,000 investment.

Startups are often hungry to work on civic challenges facing Austin, but there are no easy means for them to get plugged in with community leaders. That’s why the Challenge made sense: create an opportunity to build bridges between startups and the City of Austin so that technology can be leveraged to make our community a better place for all residents.

To ensure the applicants were meeting an existing need in Austin that aligned with the community’s strategic priorities, ATA put together an advisory committee full of City elected officials, departmental leads, and smart cities experts. Many thanks to the following individuals who volunteered their time and talent to pare down the applicants to the finalists:

  • City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, City of Austin
  • City Council Member Ann Kitchen, City of Austin
  • Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Austin
  • Brion Oaks, Chief Equity Officer, City of Austin
  • Kerry O’Connor, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Austin
  • Jason JonMichael, Assistant Director of Smart Mobility, Austin Transportation Department
  • Sherri Greenberg, Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs
  • Jay Boisseau, Executive Director, Austin CityUP
  • Jennifer Houlihan, Managing Director, Austin CityUP
  • Jonathan Ha, Founder, SmartAustin.org
  • Christina Newbrough, Evolve Austin

The advisory committee joined with Capital Factory mentors and representatives from MobilityX to listen to hours of pitches and dig deep through one-on-one meetings with the six finalists. The Capital Factory investment team, tasked with choosing the winner, realized there were too many amazing companies that they couldn’t pick one — so they picked two! Many congratulations to Cloud 9 and ResilientGrid, who are each receiving a $100,000 investment to transform Austin into a city of the future.

Cloud 9’s communication solution allows care-providing organizations to give people with behavioral health needs the right care at the right time.

ResilientGrid is a startup out of Austin whose security and operations control platform enables utility companies, governments, and those who manage critical infrastructure to better identify threats, reduce errors, and manage emergencies.

Here’s a video with elevator pitches from the six finalists, plus Mayor Steve Adler announcing the winners:

About Capital Factory

Capital Factory is the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Texas, the number one startup state in the U.S. Last year more than 100,000 entrepreneurs, programmers and designers gathered day and night, in-person and online for meetups, mentorship, classes, and coworking. We meet the best entrepreneurs in Texas and introduce them to their first investors, employees, mentors and customers. According to Pitchbook, Capital Factory has been the most active investor in Texas since 2013.

About Austin Tech Alliance

Austin Tech Alliance is a nonpartisan, member-based nonprofit that promotes civic engagement in Austin’s tech sector. ATA focuses on educating the tech grassroots on policy issues that impact them; advocating for using tech as a tool to help solve civic challenge; and activating the tech community to speak up, participate, and vote.

About MobilityX

MobilityX is the first transportation technology partner aimed at fostering the growth of new mobility-as-a service companies and bringing innovative solutions to the transportation sector. It brings together industry experts, tech startups, thought-leaders, and other innovators who are working to improve the mobility ecosystem. Through meetup events, hackathons, startup competitions, and think tanks, MobilityX is the hub that connects the dots on the map of all things in the mobility world.

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