The Urbantech Startup Space

The Urbantech Startup Space

October 4th marked our first anniversary at Urban.Us. So we’re taking time to reflect on what we’ve learned in our first year.

What is UrbanTech? This is the question we’re interested in at Urban.Us. It’s the space defined by core city needs from water and waste to transport and safety. For most of us, these are the things we don’t notice unless they stop working. But these are also the things that require new approaches as cities confront the triple threat of climate change, increased populations and constrained budgets.

UrbanTech Space 0.2

(click the image to enlarge)

Above is our first attempt to describe the UrbanTech space. We organized the space around Problem Orbits and Distribution Channels. In our first version we’ve included only a small subset of the companies we’re researched, talked with and invested in.

Problem Orbits

The Core Orbit (grey) includes elements required by city inhabitants and therefore things that cities must provide – water, waste management, etc. It’s easy to take these things for granted, but we notice them when they stop working.

Examples:
Rachio enables us to reduce water usage at home.
Handup lets us help homeless neighbors.

The Assurance Orbit (blue) is increasingly necessary to provide the core elements – energy, connectivity, financial resources. No energy? Good luck pumping water. No connectivity? Many safety services no longer function. More resilient systems are required to ensure that cities can recover quickly in the face of shocks. And more sustainable approaches are required in the face of climate change, if cities are to be viable in the coming decades.

Examples:
Radiator labs lets building owners or operators cut heating energy use.
BRCK maintains connectivity for people and things

The Safety Orbit (black) includes the elements that enable us to harness the benefits of density, while reducing the risks. Being able to move around quickly and conveniently without worrying about crime is an essential enabler of urban living.

Examples:
Onewheel offers commuting flexibility
Dash enables safer, more efficient driving

Distribution Sectors

One way to make cities better is to make them smart. And this usually involves local governments purchasing technology to help them operate and serve their citizens. This is captured in B2G Sector.

But individuals and enterprises are already playing a critical role in most solutions to urban challenges. Just look at offerings from Uber, Nest or Firstfuel

B2C Sector – reflects our personal choices as citizens. For example, many of us are finding new ways to move around. Or finding ways to reduce our energy use. The potential from this combined effect is enormous.

Examples:
Bikespike encourages cycling by offering a service to make cycling safer.
Valet Anywhere provides more convenient parking, reducing traffic congestion.

B2B Sector – companies are also joining in. Their motives may be mixed, but like individual citizens the combined impact from business investments in everything from safety to transport is also shaping cities.

Examples:
Skycatch enables improved monitoring of the built environment.
Architizer enables companies to find the best products for low energy buildings.

This is our first version. In the coming weeks we’ll be adding more companies but also looking for suggestions on how we might best represent the UrbanTech space. Please let us know what you think.