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Houston accelerator places new focus on resilience in the face of Covid-19

The Ion Smart & Resilient Cities Accelerator wants to support start-ups to create solutions to help in everyday lives, but also in situations that require urgency like the coronavirus outbreak.

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Start-ups secure the opportunity to work with the City of Houston on pilot projects
Start-ups secure the opportunity to work with the City of Houston on pilot projects

The Ion Smart Cities Accelerator in Houston is promoting resilience as a core pillar of smart cities and placing a new focus on this area in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. The renamed Ion Smart & Resilient Cities Accelerator will reveal its second cohort of start-ups later this month.

 

By adding ‘resilient’ to its name, the accelerator said it more formally emphasises its mission to enable start-ups to create and deploy solutions to help Houstonians thrive not only in their everyday lives, but also in situations that require urgency like Covid-19. It also complements the City of Houston’s Resilient Houston strategy this year.

 

Civic infrastructure

 

Launched in September 2019, the accelerator was formed to address the needs of Houston, and cities across the US, by deploying technology into existing civic infrastructure.

 

Supported by Microsoft and Intel, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office and other Houston stakeholders, as well as TXRXlabs, the accelerator provides start-ups with access to customised and needs-based programming, mentoring from academic, industry and community experts and a prototyping lab.

 

As towns and cities across the US navigate a healthcare crisis unlike anything our generation has experienced, and business leaders contend with economic volatility and uncertainty, the need to emphasise resiliency as a core pillar of a smart city is even greater, Ion said.

 

“With the city of Houston’s, Microsoft’s, Intel’s and TXRX’s support, we are prepared to address the challenges Houston and America will face in a post Covid-19 world.”

 

During a crisis, cities must be prepared to solve challenges, from ensuring healthcare providers have personal protective equipment, to reliably and quickly providing businesses with a safe supply chain and economic resources to survive an economic downturn.

 

To better meet these needs, the accelerator will aim to deliver more robust approaches and opportunities to ensure that entrepreneurs, innovators and start-ups tackling these challenges have access to the support they need to help maintain good quality of life for residents in Houston and beyond, no matter the conditions.

 

“By harnessing smart technologies, cities become more resilient in the face of crises,” said Gaby Rowe, executive director, Ion.

 

“The innovation of the Ion Smart & Resilient Cities Accelerator will empower and create the smart technology we need to keep our city’s operations moving and our residents safe as we inevitably face sociological challenges and natural disasters. We are excited to play a role in improving our city’s fabric and quality of life," Rowe said.

 

Cohort 2

 

Applications for Cohort 2, which focuses on air quality, water purification and cleantech, recently closed. Selected start-ups will be announced later this month, and Ion will offer Cohort 2’s programming online.

 

According to Ion, the goal of Cohort 2 remains the same as Cohort 1 – to position start-ups to secure the opportunity to earn pilots with the city of Houston. Currently, in the second phase of their accelerator participation, Cohort 1 start-ups are piloting a collective 15 projects. Participating start-ups include: Aatonomy; AeoShape; GoKid; Kriterion; Sensytec; SlideX; Umanity; Wyzerr and Reality IMT.

 

“With its diverse and innovative industries and people, Houston is in a position to become America’s leading creator of scalable technology that specifically meets resiliency needs,” said Christine Galib, senior director of accelerator programmes and director of the Ion Smart & Resilient Cities Accelerator. “With the city of Houston’s, Microsoft’s, Intel’s, and TXRX’s support, we are prepared to address the challenges Houston and America will face in a post-Covid-19 world.”

 

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