smart cities

Automaker Infiniti teams up with Hong Kong incubator Nest to promote 'smart cities'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2015, 2:23pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 April, 2016, 9:20pm

Infiniti Motor has teamed up with Hong Kong-headquartered business incubator Nest in an accelerator programme for technology start-ups focused on urban development.

"Here in Hong Kong and throughout the region, urban communities are developing at an unrivalled pace. As a consequence, we are already experiencing many of the problems associated with this phenomenal pace of growth," said Simon Squibb, the founder and chief executive at privately held Nest.

He said the partnership with Infiniti, the Hong Kong-based premium car division of Japan's Nissan Motor, is aimed at taking “a leadership role in solving these problems", which range from congestion to energy waste.

The initial "Infiniti Accelerator" programme launched by the two companies this week will focus on start-ups engaged in developing solutions in the field of "smart cities".

Smart cities deploy information and communications technology solutions in three or more functional areas of a city government, according to research firm IHS. Examples include mobile and transport, energy and sustainability, physical infrastructure, governance, and safety and security.

Smart cities are emerging in response to an increasingly urbanised world dealing with scarce resources, along with the desire to improve efficiency.

By working with Nest and innovative start-up companies, we are looking to collaborate further with urban developers on smart city ideas that can improve people’s quality of life in a sustainable way
Roland Krueger, Infiniti

IHS said the implementation of appropriate technologies would allow smart cities to better cope with pressing issues while allocating resources more efficiently and helping to improve the quality of life for its residents.

London, for example, is retrofitting many of its commercial and residential buildings to lessen carbon dioxide emissions. The city is also adopting power-charging infrastructure to support the introduction of electric cars.

In Spain's port city of Santander, more sustainable water use is the target of a project that adopted soil-humidity sensors to detect when land requires irrigation.

“Infiniti is at the forefront of technologies, such as connectivity, autonomous driving, and new-energy vehicles, that provide solutions for the future of urban mobility,” said the company’s president Roland Krueger.

“By working with Nest and innovative start-up companies, we are looking to collaborate further with urban developers on smart city ideas that can improve people’s quality of life in a sustainable way.”

The Infiniti Accelerator is a 12-week programme run by a full-time, dedicated team led by Nest. Applications open today and the deadline for submissions is on August 15 this year. 

Up to eight start-ups will be selected. Those qualified will receive support from Infiniti and Nest that includes mentorship by specialists in the areas of smart cities, hardware, manufacturing, transportation, technology and entrepreneurship. 

At the end of the programme, the eight start-ups will have the opportunity to pitch for funding and partnerships at an exclusive Investor Demo Day.  

Based on its definition of smart city, IHS has forecast the number of these cities worldwide to reach 88 by 2025, up from 21 in 2013. Asia-Pacific is expected to have 32 of them by 2025.

The alliance with Infiniti is the latest high-profile programme formed by Nest with major partners. In April, it partnered with DBS Bank in an accelerator programme for financial technology start-ups.

Nest in February formed a unique alliance with Level 39, the largest operator of co-workspace facilities in Europe, to make it faster for tech start-ups in Hong Kong and London to go global.

The two companies are providing start-ups from Asia with joint workspace resources in London and helping to give start-ups in Europe access to the same in Hong Kong.