Ford, Techstars Pick 12 Mobility Startups

DEARBORN — Ford Motor Co. and the startup accelerator Techstars have announced their newest class of startup companies that will work this summer from offices at Ford Field in Detroit on new mobility products and services.

The 2016 cohort was selected from nearly 500 applications from 52 countries from every continent except Antarctica. Applications were up 27 percent from last year.

The 12 companies will participate in a three-month mentorship program, accelerating their businesses and partnerships across the automotive industry, and receive $120,000 in funding.

“Techstars and Ford Motor Co. are working to support smart, ambitious entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions for mobility issues,” said Ken Washington, Ford vice president for research and advanced engineering. “Startups are bringing new energy and creative thinking to the fore.”

The Techstars class of 2016 is:

* Acerta,, which provides machine-assisted anomaly detection and root-cause analysis
* Algocian,, which develops video analytics for security and autonomous vehicles
* Braiq,, which uses artificial intelligence to personalize the self-driving car
* Cargo, a data-driven general store for the ride-sharing economy
* Donut Media,, a digital media company for millennial and Gen Z car enthusiasts
* Drive Spotter,, which offers real-time video search for fleet management
* GoKid,, developer of a carpool app for busy families
* Haas Alert,, a connected notification platform that warns motorists when emergency vehicles are approaching
* Hero,, an app that rewards safe behavior and helps impaired drivers get home safely
* Rally,, a platform that allows for pop-up mass transit in high-occupancy vehicles
* Spatial,, which provides a dynamic, human-driven layer of social intelligence for maps and navigation
* Voyhoy,, a transportation booking platform in Latin America and Europe. (The name is a combination of the Spanish words for “I go today.”)

Ford and Techstars officials said top themes from this year’s applicants included ride-sharing services and technologies, improving the car ownership experience, and safety and autonomous-driving technologies. Also, applicants focused on personalizing electric vehicles using software or app development methods. Others concentrated on personal mobility for new generations of car owners that offered greater self-reliance and purposefulness.

The incoming class will focus on innovations that play to emerging trends – connectivity, real-time data, on-demand services, and sharing and social platforms – in key areas of interest to Ford:
• Consumer experience
• Information technology and data analytics
• Multimodal trip integration
• Flexible ownership and user experience
• Autonomous and safety technologies

Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit starts June 13 and culminates Sept. 8 with demo day at Detroit Opera House. Last year, more than 1,000 individuals from 50 different automotive organizations attended the inaugural Techstars Mobility demo day.

The 2015 graduating class has raised $5 million in funding to date. Among them is SPLT, which developed a ride-sharing app to promote customized carpooling, which DTE Energy and other companies are adopting. At the end of the 2015 program, SPLT chief executive and founder Anya Babbitt announced her company would move from New York City to Detroit’s Ford Field.

Meanwhile, the global Techstars program has graduated 745 companies since launching in 2007. Those startups have raised $2.2 billion.

In addition to Ford, the Techstars Mobility consortium includes several corporations also focused on next-generation mobility. Magna International, Verizon, Dana, Honda, McDonald’s, Munich Re and Michelin have all contributed funding and mentorship.

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