As we progress forward into these extremely fascinating times, the automotive industry must adapt to survive. Personal mobility isn’t exactly what it used to be and it’s becoming far more reaching than simply owning cars. Furthermore, the entire world of urban mobility and city living is changing rapidly as well. So automotive companies are investing heavily in new startups that aren’t only focused on cars. The newly launched URBAN-X by MINI is a program designed to accelerate the progress of startup companies looking to help shape the future for urban life and mobility.

So far, there are eight startup companies involved: Adiona, which optimizes the efficiency of logistics, supply chain and mobile workforce organizations through AI; Aquagenuity, which is a “Google Search” so-to-speak for water quality, helping you check your water as easily as you check the weather; Climate Robotics, which builds robots to efficiently generate biochar to sequester carbon and improve soils, starting with urban land; Mobilyze, which is a data-analytics platform that optimizes the location of electric charging stations; Resonant Link, which creates wireless charging technology for fast, zero-maintenance, and low-cost power to robots and EVs; and, lastly, Xtelligent, which is a next generation traffic signal network enabling the connected, automated, and multi-modal transportation future.

“Now more than ever, we are seeing urgent calls to improve the status quo,” said URBAN-X Managing Director, Micah Kotch. “We are excited to get to work with this impressive group of founders to help them build creative solutions for a brighter urban life.”

What’s interesting is that MINI harkens back to its beginnings to prove that the brand has always been about changing the status quo for urban mobility. “MINI began as a creative mobility solution in response to a global crisis in 1959.  This same resolve shines through URBAN-X as it helps to enable a new generation of entrepreneurs solving for our cities’ most pressing challenges,” said Mike Peyton, Vice President, MINI of the Americas. “We are excited to support the companies in Cohort 08, and look forward to seeing how they develop their bold and innovative solutions.”

Peyton is right, the original Mini was designed by the brilliant Sir Alec Issigonis as the future of city driving at the time. It was a revelation and changed the way Britain saw urban personal transport. Moreover, it changed how we all saw urban transport and is one of the most important cars in history. So it makes sense for MINI to try and help pave the way for the future yet again.

The six companies will be immersed in a twenty-week accelerator program, conducted completely online, during which they will receive guidance on customer development, product development, network-building and successful go-to-market strategies, all in preparation for fundraising. Throughout the duration of the program, companies have access to URBAN-X’s expansive network of global experts, including world-class engineers and designers from the BMW Group. The program will culminate in an online Demo Day during Climate Week this September, where teams will present their solutions to an audience of investors, policymakers, customers and more.

This are very interesting and exciting times and it’s good to see both MINI and the BMW Group getting involved in more than just creating eco-friendly cars. Hopefully, some of these companies can really make a difference in the future of our automotive industry.