The Urban Innovation Accelerator is an intensive three-month accelerator program that focuses on early stage start-ups and helps them to develop prototypes for innovative products or services with the potential to contribute to the well-being of the city. It consists of a bootcamp phase, an acceleration phase with coaching and mentoring offered by the 16 mentors of the platform and a public event (demo day) where the final results are showcased. At the end, the winning idea receives the prize of EUR 10.000.
It is very important to have a program that highlights not only the best entrepreneurs but also motivates others to start and transform their ideas into projects. - Peter Kolesar
Peter Kolesar, CEO of CIVITTA, a hub for start-ups and innovation related initiatives in Slovakia and in other 17 countries, partner of Kosice 2.0 and responsible for the development of the Urban Innovation Accelerator declares:
In Slovakia and in most countries it is very difficult for entrepreneurs to have access to the public institutions, municipalities and regional governments. Those tend to be more introvert and deal with what is urgent for them and not thinking strategically how to support entrepreneurial ecosystem locally to pilot new solutions for our cities. The Urban Innovation Accelerator is one of the ways offered by Kosice 2.0 to help innovators and entrepreneurs interact with the municipality and work together in common solutions.
The first cycle of the Urban Innovation Accelerator, the Challenger: Urban Creative, started in April 2021 with 15 groups short-listed to participate in a full-day bootcamp. 8 start-ups were then selected to enter the acceleration phase and worked together for about 2 months with the team of experts. The final event, Demo Day, saw the teams pitching their prototypes in front of the jury consisting of the Vice Mayor and the Head of Strategy of Kosice municipality, as well as experts from various fields.
The diversity of companies participated and the multiplicity of products emerged has been a real success. A booking web-portal for the vacant municipal properties; a technological tool that helps large companies or the city government to identify the root cost of their energy wasting in their buildings and reduce their energy footprint; a gaming platform that aims to make Kosice more attractive to the youth community; a shared parking system-app based on AI technology; a computer game that deals with the issue of self-defence;
Radoslav Kozlov, developer of the idea “Social World”, a digital application that helps people with disabilities and the elderly population connect with better services and professional care-givers to help them with activities of daily living, testifies:
I think that the overall initiative has been very important because if you want to create a better place for living you have to concentrate on people who are active and who want to do something for the better. And this has been a great place to test ideas, cooperate with other practitioners, brainstorm and create new partnerships or even friendships.
The winning idea of this first cycle, eGreen City (eZelene Mesto), developed a tool to help the municipality tackle the challenge of energy consumption in their facilities. The team created a technology based on AI that performs as a “digital energy officer” and automatically identifies the amount of energy consumed by the electrical equipment in a building.
Members of the startup, Peter Fecilak and Karol Kniewald state:
We didn’t have experience collaborating with the municipality before this program. This is exactly where the accelerator helped. It kicked-off the meetings with the City and those involved in the management of the buildings and specifically the energy management department. We discussed if this is really a challenge that they face as administrators of the buildings and if our technology could be a solution to their problem.
Most of the start-ups participated in the first cycle are now in the stage of preparing agreements with the municipality so to be able to pilot their products improving several areas of City services.