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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

As 2020 began, Scrum Ventures was already considering a new startup program focusing on tech for cities and the urban environment. Then the spring brought the coronavirus pandemic and a wave of protests following the killing of George Floyd, sealing the deal.

Driving the news: Scrum Ventures, in partnership with former NBA all-star player and investor Baron Davis, is debuting SmartCityX, a program aimed at helping startups connect with potential advisers and business partners.

“The initial discussions were really around ‘how can we leverage the power of things like mobility and sustainability,’” Mike Proman, managing director of Scrum Ventures' studio program, tells Axios.

  • “Over the course of February and early March, as things deteriorated in the U.S., we saw this as an opportunity to find technologies that would be part of the solution.”
  • SmartCityX, which is Scrum Ventures' second program after one focused on sports last year, will culminate in some form of demo day next spring (though the format is unclear given the pandemic).
  • It will feature 100–150 startups, which will ideally fall into any of six categories: consumer products, mobility and transportation, smart buildings, sustainability and resources, infrastructure and connectivity, and social innovation.
  • Unlike traditional accelerator programs, SmartCityX does not make an equity investment in the startups, though Scrum Ventures may separately invest down the line.

The big picture: Davis tells Axios the program aims to "take an international view on education and living and start to provide tools to the right thought leaders where we can foster and champion a better and more sustainable lifestyle."

  • While Scrum Ventures has strong links to Japan and Japanese companies, Proman says that the SmartCityX program’s advisers will be diverse in expertise and geographical location.
  • In addition to Davis, advisers to the startups will include executives from Qualcomm, the city of San Diego, the city of San Jose, Adidas, and the San Francisco 49ers.

What’s next: Startups can apply until the end of November, and SmartCityX will make its selections for the program by January.

Go deeper: Pandemic reshapes a cadre of Y Combinator startups

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Aug 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

Venture capital firms to include "diversity riders" in term sheets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ten venture capital firms on Wednesday will announce that they're now including "diversity riders" in term sheets submitted to startups, requiring that best efforts are made to bring underrepresented investors into the deals.

Why it matters: This is a tangible effort to diversify cap tables and, in so doing, expand access to investors who have historically been excluded.

More than a dozen injured in downtown Austin shooting

Police tape in Austin, Texas in 2018. Photo: y Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A shooting in a busy part of downtown Austin, Texas, early Saturday injured at least 13 people, including two who are in critical condition.

The state of play: Gunfire erupted around 1:30 a.m. along 6th Street, a popular area with bars and restaurants. The suspected shooter remains at large, Austin police said. "It is unknown if there is one, or multiple suspects involved," they noted, adding the shooting appears to be an isolated incident.

Biden to urge G7 to take unified approach to countering China

Photo: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Saturday is expected to urge fellow G7 leaders to adopt a unified approach to countering China's rising global influence, AP reports.

Driving the news: The G7 leaders are set to unveil a multi-billion-dollar global infrastructure plan aimed at rivaling Beijing's efforts in the developing world.