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BMW MINI Partners With HAX To Accelerate Startups Working On Smart Cities | DrivingSales News

BMW MINI Partners With HAX To Accelerate Startups Working On Smart Cities

January 18, 2016 0 Comments


New technologies are emerging that are capable of helping future urban populations share more resources, reduce costs and communicate in new ways.

With the aim of being at the forefront of this movement, BMW MINI has teamed up with HAX, a division of venture capital firm SOSV, to launch a startup accelerator program called Urban-X. The partnership intends to support, educate and invest in compelling new businesses to help bring innovative technologies to market rapidly.

“At MINI, we are passionate about iconic design and clever solutions, and as a quintessentially urban brand, we are interested in fueling concepts that make life in the city more efficient, and, most of all, enjoyable,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG in charge of MINI. “We want to work with startups who follow this vision with potentially game-changing solutions, and together with HAX we aim at building a superior program that helps them excel.”

MINI and other automakers are adapting to a changing industry, as illustrated by the many electric prototypes on display at the recent CES, as well as the rapid growth of autonomous vehicle development. BMW has already started moving beyond car sales and into car-sharing with its peer-to-peer platform DriveNow, which is available in several cities throughout North America and Europe.

For MINI, the partnership with HAX will provide it with a connection to a changing urban population beyond traditional automobiles.

“In the 50s, cities were built around cars,” said MINI’s Head of Impact Ventures, Esther Bahne. “The newly emerging metropolis demands products and, most of all, services, to be purpose-built for and around it. Autonomous driving, paired with ride-sharing, is only one of the many revolutions on the horizon that will change the way we interact with our environment and with each other. The city, effectively, becomes an operating system, into which services will be plugged; a platform on which dreams will be realized. MINI wants to have an active part in this, by helping to build a city that becomes increasingly more livable and enjoyable.”

The American government has also been investing in the development of the connected city of the future. The Department of Transportation recently unveiled the Smart City Challenge, a $40 million program intended to help cities use innovative ideas to connect transportation assets within the urban environment.

Applications are now open for the first Urban-X program, which starts in March 2016. MINI and HAX will give $60,000 in equity to each startup that is accepted into the three-month program, and may increase its investment in the strongest ideas in the future.

“If we see exciting teams, working on products and services with a potential strategic fit for MINI and its future direction, we can absolutely envision to strengthen our commitment with a follow-up investment,” Bahne said.

About the Author:

The DrivingSales News team is dedicated to breaking the relevant and the tough stories affecting car dealers. Have questions for DrivingSales News? Reach the team at news@drivingsales.com.

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