Companies participating in CU Denver’s Smart Futures Lab program shared some of their successes and how the program helped them during their graduation ceremony earlier this month at the University of Colorado Denver.
The participating companies are led by individuals representing the New Majority, which includes Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Women, and People with Disabilities. Many such businesses are often left out of the design and implementation of cities and new technology. The program is a collaboration among CU Denver’s College of Engineering, Design and Computing, Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, and Innosphere Ventures. Over the course of the program, the organizations worked to provide the entrepreneurs with access to innovative workspace, networking opportunities, and an array of courses and workshops to enhance their business operations.
Leveraging industry connections, a curriculum aimed at scaling business operations, and learnings applied from the program, these companies have been able to advance their companies. For example, InCitu, a company that creates augmented reality maps of locations that you can tap into via a mobile device, signed a contract in October to create an augmented reality map of Washington, D.C.
The company worked with open data from DC Department of Buildings to create the augmented reality map. Among the buildings users can experience via the mobile app is the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Building, which will house the national headquarters for the NAACP. The company also has various projects underway, including work in San Francisco, C.A. and Charleston, S.C.
The Smart Futures Lab houses the incubator and accelerator programs which were created thanks to a $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support startups and entrepreneurs in the civic innovation space.
All participating companies are building technology solutions to issues confronting quality of life in communities across Colorado and the world, including transportation safety, mobility for people with disabilities, climate change, water, and urban planning.
How did the Smart Futures Lab help?
Companies in the incubator program went through 40 weeks of courses with subjects covering: developing an entrepreneurial mindset; creating a brand Identity that leads through culture; 5G technology and its applications provided by World Wide Technology, RF Connect, Arrow Electronics, and T-Mobile; user centered design research and product development; business model generation; financial literacy for founders; identifying metrics for success; IP and contracts for entrepreneurs provided by Sheridan Ross P.C.; and working with governments with content provided by CIVStart.
On the Accelerator side, companies went through a 16-week business program from Innosphere Ventures, 5G technology and its applications provided by Worldwide Technologies, RF Connect, Arrow Electronics and T-mobile, design research and product development, and a six-week course on working with governments provided by CIVStart.
Additionally, each company was matched with a mentor from the Smart Futures Lab Mentor Network. The network is comprised of more than 30 industry leaders with varying expertise ranging from product development to business operations and more. The Smart Futures Lab also provided individualized support to each company with weekly meetings with a program manager and a dedicated marketing manager.