There has undoubtedly been, in the last few years, an incredible increase in the number of startups, social initiatives and entrepreneurs bringing up new ideas, all in order to solve the most pressing urban challenges of the 21st century. The lack of support however can make it tough for several initiatives to progress or even make themselves heard. This is where the Urban Innovation Fund comes to the rescue.
Transportation, energy, resources, education, health, safety, housing – what do all these have in common? Not only do they raise crucial questions about our present societies, but they also create challenges for our social future. Small startups as well as their entrepreneurs cannot possibly make a name for themselves without consistent support and investments.
The Urban Innovation Fund offers just that. It represents a venture capital firm that provides support to the initiatives that deal with the toughest urban challenges out there. Its wide range of interests is impressive, as they are planning on investing in fields such as sustainability, resources, technology, public safety, government, food systems or transport.
Founded in 2016 and still limiting itself to less than 10 employees, the company does not only provide the much-needed financial help, but also offers regulatory expertise. This way, today’s local startups can truly become tomorrow’s most valued companies.
Behind the impressive investment strategy lies the fact that 81% of Americans currently live in urban areas, while two thirds of the world population will also be urbanized in the next couple of decades.
This determines every society to face a wide range of systemic issues that must be addressed as soon as possible for a better functioning. The Urban Innovation Fund believes that transformative urban technologies are to be invested in, as they could provide us with answers to the issues of today and to the challenges of tomorrow.
Among others, previous investments include Neighborly, a company offering access to the municipal bond market funding public projects, The Town Kitchen, which connects food and lunch delivery with youth employment opportunities, BookNook, which aids reading instruction in several educational processes or DropCountr, dealing with water usage, data analytics and saving money efficiently.
Moreover, there is a consistent commitment to funding diverse startups, as 76% of the initiatives that were supported have a woman or a person of color as a founder.
More is yet to come, as this fall the fund announced three new startups joining the portfolio.
The first one, named Ethic, is a technology platform that promotes and accelerates the global transition to sustainable investing. Ethic works with several institutional investment firms in order to create customized portfolios that match market performance.
Secondly, Stop, Breathe & Think is an app dealing with mental health and mindfulness in young people. It also recently launched a version for kids aged 5-10, after winning the 2017 People’s Voice Webby Award for Best Health App.
Voatz is a mobile voting platform that uses state-of-the-art technologies to securely and anonymously collect voting data. It has already been used by more than 50 thousand people in various elections. Finally, these initiatives also provide people, especially young people, with employment opportunities, as most of them are currently hiring.
Sources: Urban Innovation Fund, Crunchbase, angel.co, Living Cities
Photo: MSLA, GTCUI, Crunchbase