INFINITI Lab Toronto has announced that SmartTones, a platform designed to measure broadcast audiences in real time, will be fast-tracked to a 12-week program that will be held at Infiniti’s global headquarters in Hong Kong in September.
SmartTones was one of nine start-ups to participate in the six-week INFINITI Lab Toronto accelerator program that began on May 30. The program culminated with each company making a final pitch to a group of investors at the Globe and Mail Centre in downtown Toronto.
The investor group consisted of Adam Paterson, Managing Director of INFINITI Canada, Darren Plested, Head of Business Development at INFINITI Lab, Alain Ballu, President of Nissan Canada Financial Services, Brian Kobus, Partner at OMERS Ventures and Jean-Christophe Lebarre, Innovation and Partnerships Director at Alliance Ventures.
In addition to SmartTones, Brisk Synergies could also join the global program. The second start-up from the Toronto program uses automated video analytics to help transportation departments identify traffic patterns to improve road safety, was also selected to pitch for entry to the global program.
Now in its second year, INFINITI Lab Toronto is part of a global effort on the part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance designed to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
Participating startups receive training and mentoring from industry leaders, partners and investors and is backed by Alliance Ventures, a US$1 billion venture capital fund operated by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
“There are a couple of reasons for us to be involved in startups. First off, we’ve always thought of ourselves as an entrepreneurial company. We’ve had lots and lots of world firsts [such as the forthcoming 2019], QX50 which has the world’s first VC (variable compression) turbo [engine], and its got our world-first direct adaptive steering as well, so we like to think of ourselves as an entrepreneurial company that likes to do things differently,” Paterson said in an interview.
He also said the presence of startups generate a great deal of interest and passion internally at INFINITI Canada which the company is keen to harness.
“After the program we bring every one of the startups in to head office and do a lunch and learn. We did this last year as well. We have an office of 350 people and we had packed out rooms every day because people are really interested [in] how quickly technology changes.”
“Cars are great, cars are fantastic – but we work in much longer product cycles. The speed at which startups move really excite people and we want to bring that into the way we operate on a day-to-day basis,” Paterson said.
In addition to SmartTones and Brisk Synergies, the other INFINITI Lab Toronto startups are:
ShiftRide – a platform that allows users to rent cars owned by others in their community. ShiftRide gives consumers an additional stream of income by allowing them to list their vehicles for rent when they’re not in use.
DriveHER – a ridesharing service designed to provide safe rides, enhance community development and empower women, with an alternative transportation service for women by women in Canada.
Clutch – provides a seamless solution for potential car owners to test drive vehicles by delivering the car to a user’s door, offering the convenience and price of a peer-to-peer marketplace with the traditional services of a physical dealership.
UTO – a digital marketplace that uses smart contracts to streamline and facilitate the end-to-end vehicle sale process.
Ordermotive – connects customers directly to retailers, allowing consumers to set-up financing options and understand payment terms before they test-drive a vehicle.
Acerta – uses machine learning to provide consumers with real-time malfunction detection and failure prediction. It uses a state-of-the-art machine learning algorithm to allow customers to unlock the full potential of their collected data.
Sylidra – a mobile app that enhances the digital touchpoints of the customer experience, allowing consumers to track their vehicle information, book appointments, earn rewards and share their experiences through social media. Users can communicate directly with shops through text and multimedia, while engaging in gamification aspects to earn rewards.
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