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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.

Dems' immigration plan hits major roadblock

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Sunday that Democrats cannot include pathways to citizenship in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, per a copy of the ruling obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: It's a blow to Democrats who hoped to provide pathways for millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Using reconciliations would have allowed them to pass politically contentious immigration changes with only 50 votes, as opposed to the usual 60 required.

FBI says human remains found in Wyoming likely Gabby Petito

Gabby Petito. Photo: FBI

Human remains found in Teton County, Wyoming, are "consistent with the description of" missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito, said FBI Denver official Charles Jones at a news conference Sunday.

Details: The cause of death had yet to be determined, but Jones said: "Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery." Authorities said they're continuing the search for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.