Smart Urban Infrastructure Program Recognized for Entrepreneurship

UI LABS accepts award for City Digital

City Digital wins Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge

UI LABS announced that its smart urban infrastructure program, City Digital, has been named a winner of the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge, which aims to advance diverse entrepreneurship and accelerate startups.

As an award recipient, City Digital will receive $100,000 in funding for one year from the Blackstone Foundation. The grant will support a partnership between City Digital and the Chicago-based nonprofit Colony 5 to link inclusive entrepreneurship programs throughout Chicago with City Digital’s technology piloting and commercialization engine. Colony 5 identifies and supports entrepreneurs by connecting them with needed resources to deploy and grow their businesses.

“We see a mutual benefit in diversifying the entrepreneurial voices contributing to our smart city pilot development,” said Caralynn Nowinski Collens, CEO of UI LABS. “Startups are critical in our work to design new solutions, providing both new technology and use cases. Meanwhile, startups benefit through their participation in our consortium through improved market insights and partnering opportunities.”

City Digital will use the grant to establish inclusive entrepreneurship programming—involving veterans, women, minorities and immigrants—at the UI LABS Innovation Center. A Colony 5 consultant will be located onsite, working with the City Digital team to develop a startup engagement strategy. Colony 5 will facilitate coordination between entrepreneurs and program activities at City Digital, such as participation in pilots and pilot planning workshops.

“Our goal at Colony 5 is to stimulate economic growth by accelerating entrepreneurship. Through partnership with City Digital, we will add our pipeline of resident-led, tech-enabled businesses to their group of corporate, academic and civic partners working on developing innovative technology to build smart cities with the goal of launching entrepreneurs to commercial success,” said Steven Philpott Sr., CEO of XtraMedium Communications and founder of Colony 5.

The award builds on City Digital’s track record of including early-stage companies, including Chicago-based Cityzenith and Boston-based OptiRTC, within its project development processes.

City Digital facilitates cross-sector collaboration by bringing together corporate partners and academic and civic groups, with input and involvement from the City of Chicago. City Digital enables experiments at scale to develop real solutions for the marketplace, which can be extended to have impact in other cities. Key industry partners include Microsoft, Accenture, ComEd, HBK Engineering and Mastercard.

Eight organizations, including City Digital, were named winners of grant awards through the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge.


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