IBI Group, a Canadian-based, global design and technology firm, announced the launch of the Smart City Sandbox today, alongside partners EllisDon, Ontario Power Generation (OPG), The Weather Network, and Slate Asset Management, as well as technology provider Microsoft. The Sandbox is a smart city-themed accelerator, focused on bringing innovative new products and systems to urban environments that improve the quality of life for residents. A technology hub that supports small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as entrepreneurs and start-ups, the Smart City Sandbox will operate out of a designated space at IBI Group’s Toronto headquarters, be open to global applications, and officially open doors with its first smart city-themed cohort in September 2018.
The Sandbox is one of four, key strategic streams that IBI Group is also announcing today as part of its new Strategic Plan, which provides a renewed focus for the firm, infusing technology throughout all practice areas.
“Technology is disrupting the entire ecosystem of cities. As a firm that has technology embedded in its DNA, (having designed some of the first intelligent transportation systems in the world) and as designers of the built form (buildings and infrastructure), we see both a need and an opportunity to create new ways to enhance the operations and the experiences of cities. We have great talent in our core business, but we also know having an open network of collaborators, with partners representing all aspects of the urban environment, is where the best solutions and ideas will come from. Armed with our unique domain knowledge around how cities operate, we are well-positioned to lead this exciting initiative,” said IBI Group CEO, Scott Stewart.
The Smart City Sandbox is a global accelerator with a home base in a city that has emerged as a world leader in the development and adoption of smart city technologies. It will invite applications from SMEs and start-ups to participate in specific cohorts related to mobility, living, energy, healthcare, and other urban themes, with the goal of creating solutions focused on the needs of the community. Each cohort will run for a term of 3-12 months to incubate their ideas, concluding with a demo day for investors. Providing access to venture advice and connections, the Sandbox will also offer events and programming, including product workshops, hackathons and meet-ups, to bring the community together and foster collaboration.
Smart City Sandbox partners and providers offer participants a range of resources, including channels to markets, data, direct coaching and mentoring, as well as hosting services.
- IBI Group will provide space in its Toronto headquarters, domain knowledge and expertise in urban environments and technology solutions, mentorship, and access to data, its own platforms and markets through connections with clients.
- Microsoft is at the forefront of IoT solutions enabling smart building and smart city innovations. Through various service offerings on the cloud, Azure enables innovators to develop innovative solutions. As a technology provider, Microsoft will provide access to Azure for technology development and testing along with expertise in incubation and startups through the Microsoft for Startups program.
- EllisDon will provide domain expertise in the area of construction, operations and maintenance of infrastructure and buildings, as well as opportunities for SMEs and start-ups to demo new products and solutions in properties owned and managed by EllisDon.
- The Weather Network will provide domain expertise with respect to weather conditions and forecasts, and access to analytics through its citizen applications.
- OPG will provide energy domain expertise and inputs on technology innovation demands in the energy sector, as well as opportunities to partner on current or future projects related to energy.
- Slate will offer domain knowledge of the needs of building owners and operators, access to real-world building systems and data for testing and validation, and domain expertise in property and real-estate portfolio management.
The Smart City Sandbox is part of IBI Group’s new Strategic Plan, also being announced today, which maps out the firm’s transformation to a technology-driven design firm, future- proofing IBI Group through four, bold, strategic streams. This plan will help the firm unlock growth in its core business through the application of productivity tools and processes developed by the firm’s own technology group. IBI Group will also release a suite of new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products through 2018, creating new revenue streams throughout the lifecycle of the assets it designs. The first of these launched in March, IBI Group’s Smart City Platform, which helps cities make better choices for, and with, their residents.
By forming expert teams in technologies such as AI, blockchain, and virtual and augmented reality, IBI Group will be at the forefront of the next generation of products and services in the built environment. Through the Smart City Sandbox, the firm will be able to tap into these initiatives, along with the collaborative network of partners, and combine resources, talent, and community to cultivate the next generation of smart cities.