Utopia aims to build an urban ecosystem for emerging cities by actively investing in the underlying platform and infrastructure. This approach helps take some of that burden from governments who are often stretched for resources. The Utopia CITYLABS network is spread out across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Utopia is working with urban startups through a virtual accelerator program. As part of their Africa approach, the group launched the Lagos Urban Innovation challenge to capture innovators in Lagos willing to challenge the idea,” How can we shape the Lagos of tomorrow?” The solutions being focused on were those than make the city better for everyone, including those in informal settlements. The major themes the team narrowed down to were: Energy, civic solutions & Govtech, public health & safety, transportation & mobility, food waste & water, real estate, infrastructure & industry, and wildcard solutions.
The 8 winners of the Lagos Innovation challenge were just announced.
Fly Colony – utilizes food waste in the production of an inexpensive protein-rich animal feed ingredient; i.e. Maggot meals through black soldier fly farming.
GatePass – A tenant experience platform that improves communication and management of multi-tenant communities. The platform helps residents of estates, neighborhoods, and multi-family communities manage their day-to-day lives comfortably through their mobile phones.
GIVO – relies on technology to collect recyclable garbage and waste from individual houses and businesses, then process the materials into consumer and industrial goods.
NIMA Codes – A phone number addressing system for areas with no formal street address.
Poket – an end-to-end crowd-sourcing and mapping and retail in the emerging world. It creates the largest database of new merchants while unlocking the power of the informal economy.
Pricepally – Enables bulk food purchases directly from farmers and wholesalers, making it way cheaper than the retail stores.
Swift Medispark – Aims to create Africa’s largest healthcare applications ecosystem centered on optimizing care.
Upnepa – Premium API for the electrical grid enabling data collection and integration into the grid or private power sources.
Winners of the Lagos Urban Innovation challenge will benefit from:
- Participation in the virtual urban accelerator program
- Access to equity funding opportunities
- $10,000 in AWS active credits
- Workspace vouchers from Lagos innovate
- Access to key Lagos state government agencies
- Access to Utopia’s global network of expertise
- Access to Utopia Studio based in Silicon Valley
2.5 billion people will make their way into cities in the next three decades. 90% of this growth will be based in Africa and Asia. Nairobi is projected to hold 45 million people and Lagos 88 million. Society is at a point where the urbanization needs to make cities better for the masses and not a few.