Written by Eyal Hoffman, early-stage investor & Managing Partner of Highroad
The global (and Israeli) Venture Capital industry is ablaze, with several hot sectors, such as cyber, fintech, communications, and yes, urban tech, raising big money and funding breakthrough developments. That being said, unlike those startups and companies that have drawn in record investments and have been recast as unicorns in Q1 2021, there’s a tendency to conceptualize and even separate companies belonging to various verticals within the urban tech universe into neat little clusters. Some of these clusters include mobility, energy, infrastructure, water, construction, real estate, smart home or office, wellbeing, communities, and even tourism.
Categorizing the urban tech sector into various fields can be considered a huge mistake or a missed opportunity. This is because, while urban tech might be considered less appealing to some, due to its mistaken reputation of being linked to long processes and traditional industries, there is, in fact, vast potential in bringing technology and innovation into these very verticals, as they have a large impact on the quality of people’s lives. For instance, urban tech categories such as smart mobility changed and improved our day to day life by guiding us from Point A to Point B faster, while warning us against potential hazards on the road.
There are many outstanding startups and companies in the urban tech field that have yielded exceptional outcomes and results, and have even changed the standard we have been living by thus far, for the better. One such example is that of Aura Smart Air, the world’s smartest air purification and monitoring system that cleanses and disinfects over 99% of bacteria and viruses from your indoor air, while continuously monitoring its quality, in real-time. Another example for groundbreaking urban technology is ITC, a start-up developing a unique smart system designed to optimize traffic lights for more seamless and congestion-less transit. The ITC system uses cameras to calculate a range of parameters related to the behaviors of the vehicle, in real-time, and constantly adjust traffic light timing accordingly. Third, SoliDrip's solution provides water to individual plants to meet each plant’s unique irrigation needs, at any given time, enabling easier, more cost-effective, and more diverse growing in green areas. Furthermore, the company's mission to attain an ideal balance of sustainable development and urban growth by irrigation technology positions SoliDrip's solution as an innovative, green, urban tech successor.
Indeed, some of the most innovative urban tech products on the market are “made in Israel.” The smart mobility environment is dominated by Israeli startups such as Waze (for private cars) and Moovit (for public transportation). Another Israeli innovator, SolarEdge, develops products that aim to make smarter, more environmentally-friendly use of the universe’s brightest and warmest natural resource - the sun - and GreenQ is the “blue and white” force behind optimized urban waste collection processes that improve the quality of life for city dwellers and workers alike.
It’s no wonder that the number of stock offerings by Israeli startups continued to grow and maintain their independence throughout the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, achieving a record 31 IPOs in 2020, according to the Israeli Innovation Authority’s 2021 Innovation Report.
To sum, as more and more people seek to live and work in urban areas, urban tech presents viable, cost-effective, and life-ameliorating solutions for everyday challenges to city living; necessities, as opposed to the luxuries developed by other innovative sectors. It is clear that urban tech and its developments will be leading the charge in safer, more sustainable, and satisfying living for the coming years.
Indeed, it already is, with the above companies and many others paving the way with their exciting applications for safer and more seamless everyday use. These courageous entrepreneurs are shining a light on urban tech, and are at long-last revealing just how integral and innovative this high-tech field truly is.