Collaboration in a new form is bringing a dynamic type of innovative thought process to the scene. Several groups are joining to bring new ideas and transformative innovation to the way that cities are designed for the future. The collaboration isn't just after the ideas, but it also will be creating a way to fund them.

A partnership of the Herndon-based Center for Innovative Technology, D.C.-based Smart City Works and 22 CityLink, the master developer of the Gramercy District smart city planned for Ashburn, is accepting applications for its initial cohort of companies in Smart City Works @ Herndon. The program, expected to launch March 27, is pitched as the world’s first smart city “actuator” — think next-level accelerator — focused exclusively on early-stage companies with products that serve the needs of smart cities.

"We are mission focused," said David Heyman, a co-founder of Smart City Works. "We want to make cities safer, more efficient and more resilient. We want to improve the functionality of cites through the built environment."

Much like a business accelerator, the actuator will focus on growing early-stage businesses to the point of commercialization and installation in global urban environments. Each participant will undergo a three-month intensive market and technical boot camp, connect with mentors and graduate with a “Demo Day” in front of investors, end-users and corporations that might take a product to the next level.

Smart City Works @ Herndon will fund up to $50,000 per company, taking as much as 8 percent equity in each. CIT and Smart City Works are targeting 10 companies for the initial cohort, all of which will bring to the table emerging products in either transportation, resilience and public safety, or construction techniques.

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