MITdesignX selects new cohort

Nine multi-disciplinary teams join MIT’s design entrepreneurship accelerator. 

Nine teams seeking to launch highly innovative ventures ranging from AI powered interior design, to “non-invasive” underground infrastructure machines, to reimagined design solutions for hospitals have been selected for the 2019 cohort at MITdesignX, the entrepreneurship accelerator of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P).

On November 28, 2018, fifteen finalist teams gathered at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center to pitch their ideas to a selection panel drawn largely from outside MIT. The teams included students, faculty, staff, and alumni from across SA+P as well as Sloan, and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, joined by others specializing in engineering, community organizing, and computer science.

Of these, nine teams were chosen to participate in MITdesignX, which will provide them support through customized courses, dedicated workspace, external mentorship, $15,000 in equity-free seed funding, and a robust network to help these new startup founders take their ideas in the areas of architecture, planning, art, media, and real estate from the studio to the marketplace.

The selected teams are:

BANDHU - enabling low income workers in India to make insightful seasonal migration decisions for employment, housing and transportation.

DOMUS.AI - an AI-powered system that generates customizable interior designs, cost estimation, material information and procurement options in minutes.

LEVARI - designing, optimizing, and operating spaces that maximize wellness.

LIGHT PARKING - an AI-driven urban intelligence platform that improves parking and life in cities.

OGEE! - a business-to-consumer company that will help homeowners save their architectural histories using digital fabrication.

QUIPU - a marketplace digitalization of informal economies operating in low income environments.

ROUX – creating inclusive economic growth by connecting customers to minority-owned businesses through digital platforms and curated experiences.

STACKd - a flat-pack pre-fab house that can be rapidly deployed in times of need.

ZILPER TRENCHLESS - a novel machine for installing pipelines in urban environments without digging trenches.

Forty-two teams from many disciplines applied to enter the accelerator, seeking to solve problems in the design of cities, housing, public space, social equity, infrastructure, and health. Fifteen teams advanced to the second round to pitch to the selection board.

The judges, who hail from design practices, non-profits, the City of Boston, property and software developers, are all experienced entrepreneurs themselves. The participants were judged on the strength of their problem, proposed solution, market need, social impact and their contribution to design and the built environment.

MITdesignX is the first entrepreneurial accelerator within a school of architecture and planning to develop ventures while participants are still students.

The new teams (startups) will start work in just over a month at a two-week boot camp during MIT’s Independent Activities Period in January. The training will encompass business fundamentals, successful team dynamics, and elements of design thinking in preparation for a full spring course in which the teams design their ventures.