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UC Berkley's smart city accelerator programme is looking for startups

Posted on Monday, August 13, 2018

UC Berkeley to mentor startups through a smart city accelerator programme to build scaleable business models, reports Rajlakshmi Ghosh

Startups fail not because of a lack of funds but due to lack of right attitude and mindset. “As long as you can get customers to validate your product, enterpreneurs will not have to go looking for investors,” said Mark Searle, managing director, UC Berkeley Innovation Acceleration Group. He was talking at the strategic partnership event in Delhi to establish the smart city accelerator (which is being kickstarted in Hyderabad), and innovation centres in India.


He feels that a good presentation (of an idea) may not ensure startup success. “Through our accelerator programme at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), we want startups have face-to-face conversations with around 100 customers to get a 360 degree understanding of their needs. It is important to get people to buy your product and not so much to invest in it. Most startups fail because the enterpreneurs are too much in love with their original ideas and not willing to change. They lose sight of the simpler solutions and focus too much on technology.”   


The nine-month accelerator programme is expected to teach selected startups intensive immersion in innovation developments pertaining to various segments of urban life and more specifically smart cities in areas such as economy, culture, parking, environment etc. They will be taught to build scalable business models, and manage team dynamics. While the first three days will involve onsite instructor training forum with Berkeley instructors in August 2018, this will be followed by five monthly online lectures by UC Berkeley before wrapping up with a demo day and investor meetings for selected startups at UC Berkeley campus in April 2019. An innovation centre has also been set up in Hyderabad which would later expand to other cities in India and abroad

As many as 11 startups--most of them from tier II and tier III cities-- have been selected so far on the basis of their fitment in the smart cities domain (in the field of home automation, city planning, traffic management etc). “Through the Startup India hub (a platform for  stakeholders in the startup ecosystem to interact amongst each other), we have run a call for applications to invite interest for this programme to help enterpreneurs in not just the metros but tier II and tier III cities,” said Deepak Bagla, managing director and CEO of Invest India..


“We are working with the government to bring the startups to the smart city ecosystem to help them to use their technology to solve smart city problems,” said Sridhar Gadhi, founder and CEO, Quantela.




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