Mini Backs Tech Startup Accelerator Despite Slow Sales

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai

Backed by Mini, URBAN-X’s ninth early-stage startup is an ongoing effort to improve city life, in the midst of the automaker’s waning sales.

As we reported earlier, Mini sales in the U.S. have been dismal, and their future isn’t particularly rosy. In spite of this, Mini is committed to funding URBAN-X, heralded as the leading urban technology startup accelerator. Developing new technologies across transportation and mobility isn’t particularly new for car companies, but it is for the founders of what Mini calls Cohort 09, a pedestrian label for their ninth such startup.

Increasing sustainable transportation, supporting the transition to clean energy, improving disaster preparedness, and combating loneliness are the goals of Cohort 09. Admirable objectives though they may be, companies within Cohort 09 are more concerned with data platforms for affordable, multifamily housing, AC/DC conversion for solar power, disaster risk analysis, a community communications platform, a bike parking and micro-mobility services operator, low-cost hardware for green hydrogen production, and software to empower cities to plan for energy transition.

Mini launched URBAN-X in 2016 as a part of their brand strategy, focusing on improving city life. Now in its fifth year, URBAN-X has 65 companies in its portfolio, and apparently no plans to curtail this activity.

“Mini was built upon a foundation of innovating sustainable mobility for city dwellers, and today, continues to take bold steps in creating an electrified future and pushing new sustainability measures that help improve city life,” said Bernd Körber, Head of Mini. “We are thrilled to invest in the founders in Cohort 09 and to support these exceptional entrepreneurs along their journeys.”

Perhaps staying in their own lane would be a wise move for Mini, and the result might be an acceleration of their own sales.

[Images: Mini]

Jason R. Sakurai
Jason R. Sakurai

With a father who owned a dealership, I literally grew up in the business. After college, I worked for GM, Nissan and Mazda, writing articles for automotive enthusiast magazines as a side gig. I discovered you could make a living selling ad space at Four Wheeler magazine, before I moved on to selling TV for the National Hot Rod Association. After that, I started Roadhouse, a marketing, advertising and PR firm dedicated to the automotive, outdoor/apparel, and entertainment industries. Through the years, I continued writing, shooting, and editing. It keep things interesting.

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  • Stuki Stuki on Jan 31, 2021

    Nothing new under the sun: Those who can (in this context those who can build decent cars for decent prices), do. While those who can't, do dumb stuff that any three year old could do just as well, instead. None of which ever effectively amount to anything more than trying to get in on the gravy train of printed money handed out by the trillions to abject mediocrities on central bank welfare. Most of whom are concentrated in ghettos and wastelands where welfare queens like to brand themselves "urban." And most of whom have been told pretending to be involved in something mysterious called "startups", is currently the hip thing to do.

  • Garrett Garrett on Jan 31, 2021

    It’s nice having cars that actually have color. Makes it easier to find your car in a parking lot.

  • El scotto I look forward to watching MTG and Tommy Tuberville when the UAW comes to their states.
  • El scotto Vehicle company white collar (non-union) engineers design the parts and assembly procedures. The UAW members are instructed on how to install the parts. Engineers are also in charge of quality control. The executives are ulimately responible for the quality of their products.
  • Chris P Bacon I don't care either way, the employees have the right to organize, and I'm never going to buy a VW. But.... It would be interesting if the media (HINT HINT) would be able to provide a detailed look at what (if anything) the VW workers gain by unionizing. There will be dues to pay. How much? I bet the current policies, pay and benefits mirror other auto companies. When all is said and done an the first contract signed, my money is on the UAW to be he only ones who really come out ahead. That leads into my next comment. Once a union is voted onto the property, it is almost impossible to get rid of them. Even if the membership feels the union doesn't have their best interests in mind, the hurdles to get rid of them are too high. There were a lot of promises made by the UAW, even if they don't deliver, they'll be in Chattanooga even if the membership decides they made a mistake.
  • 1995 SC How bout those steel tariffs. Wonder if everyone falls into the same camp with respect to supporting/opposing them as they did on the auto tariffs a few weeks ago. Doubt it. Wonder Why that would be?
  • Lorenzo Nice going! They eliminated the "5" numbers on the speedometer so they could get it to read up to 180 mph. The speed limit is 65? You have to guess one quarter of the needle distance between 60 and 80. Virtually every state has 55, 65, and 75 mph speed limits, not to mention urban areas where 25, 35, and 45 mph limits are common. All that guesswork to display a maximum speed the driver will never reach.