Five years ago, MINI launched its URBAN-X project, which funds startups eager to solve some of the biggest issues facing the future of urban living, including mobility, sustainable living, and waste management.
The iconic British car brand recently held what it calls its ‘Demo Day 05’ at which the fifth class of startup companies (aka URBAN-X Cohort) were able to showcase their bona fides for potential investors, customers, and public-sector leaders.
Perhaps most notably of which was Circuit, a company that partners with cities and advertisers to offer free all-electric shuttle rides for residents. The idea being that these pure-electric shuttles could alleviate the first-mile, last-mile conundrum (the issue of getting from your front door to mass transit and from mass transit to your final location) facing people living in dense urban environments.
Circuit has served 2 million riders across 19 cities and it recently announced it is expanding to Hollywood, Florida as well as relaunching in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
Other notable URBAN-X Cohort companies include Borrow that aims to offer short-term leasing programs for EVs, thereby bridging the gap between ride-sharing and vehicle ownership; GreenQ that improves logistics for truck-based waste management; and Treau is aiming to re-envision in-building climate control systems that are both sustainable and comfortable.
The brilliance of MINI’s URBAN-X project is that it effectively diversifies its business and can ingratiate itself with brands that will shape the future, leaving MINI tentacles throughout the urban environment. The of future urban infrastructure — from building logistics to mobility to waste management — will be incredibly interconnected. MINI knows this and wants to hedge its bet, as the old car-sales model slowly dies off.