FAQs

How does the Transit Tech Lab work?

Applicants participate in a rigorous selection process that may include in-person presentations. At the conclusion of the application process, regional transit agencies will select companies to participate in an 8-week accelerator to learn about the regional transit agencies and modify their technology to meet the transit system's needs. Following the accelerator, the regional transit agencies will select the most promising companies to deploy a 12-month, unpaid pilot with the transit system. The Transit Tech Lab offers companies an opportunity to demonstrate their technology in the nation’s largest transit systems and receive mentorship.

Do companies receive compensation for participating in the Transit Tech Lab?

 

There is no compensation for participation in the Transit Tech Lab, and pilots are unpaid. Companies may apply for limited grant funding from NYSERDA.

What are the evaluation criteria for Transit Tech Lab applications?

 

25% Impact: Technology is workable in the transit agency's environment, presents a viable solution relevant to the chosen challenge, and has the potential to positively impact performance and/or customer experience

25% Product: Technology is in prototype or later phase and available for live demonstration and the applicant is able to present metrics illustrating market fit and use by paying customers

25% Team: The company has a qualified team and is available for participation in person in New York City throughout the Transit Tech Lab program

25% Value: The technology presents a new way of deriving more value from existing transit agency assets, presents a potential new revenue source or cost savings for the transit agency and/or offers an opportunity to more efficiently manage infrastructure, operations or customer service

Program Questions

Who is eligible to apply for the Transit Tech Lab?

Companies must meet the following criteria to apply to the Transit Tech Lab:

  • Early- to growth-stage company with innovative solution to one of the selected challenge areas
  • Company has at least a working beta version of their technology and a proven track record of successfully delivering to customers
  • A corporation, joint venture, partnership, or LLC as defined by law
  • Companies based in New York state or that are expanding into New York state
  • Company is independently owned and operated
  • Company is not a subsidiary of a larger entity
  • Company representatives are available to participate in live virtual presentations, demo day and for duration of proof of concept

Does an applicant have to be a U.S. corporation? 

Applicants from other countries can apply, but must be registered to do business in New York.

Companies incorporated outside New York state who wish to participate in the Transit Tech Lab must complete the following steps prior to starting the proof of concept or pilot: 

If your company is not incorporated in New York state please:

  1. Obtain a 'Certificate of Good Standing' or 'Certificate of Existence' from the U.S. state or foreign country where your company incorporated.
  2. Complete the New York state Department of State 'Application for Authority' form located here: https://dos.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2018/11/1335-f.pdf

    Please note this form has a filing fee of $225 USD.

More information on the New York state Department of State website:
https://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/buscorp.html#appauth

What is the application process for the Transit Tech Lab like?

The application process is run on a platform called F6S.com—it is fairly standard for startup accelerators and streamlined compared to a government RFP.

How many companies will be selected for the Lab?

There is no pre-set desired number, the numbers selected will depend on the quality of the applications.

In the best case scenario how would a pilot benefit the selected startup pilot partners?

Pilots are unpaid, with some grant funding available from NYSERDA, and companies retain all IP. The transit agency gets a license for the duration of the pilot and a period of time following the pilot. The Lab is an opportunity for companies to get their technology in front of key decision makers at New York's major transit agencies. If chosen for the accelerator, it’s a chance for companies to refine tech for the largest transit systems in North America, and there is significant value in pointing to experience with the MTA and other agencies. 

What are the next steps if a pilot is successful?

Post-pilot, the standard route is that the transit agency will issue a competitive RFP, but this will be decided case-by-case and there may be flexibility for agencies to negotiate a contract directly if the product is unique and there is little competition on the market. Most cases will likely result in a competitive solicitation.

What happens in the proof-of-concept phase?

The proof-of-concept starts with the definition of goals for the next 8 weeks, with the objective to arrive at a decision to move forward with a yearlong pilot at the conclusion of the program. This creates urgency and structure that facilitates a meaningful proof of concept in a short period of time. Programming includes tours of operational control centers, meetings with agency leaders and program support from the Transit Tech Lab staff. 

What is the ideal size and scope of a Transit Tech Lab project?

For the initial proof of concept, we look for a small, targeted scope that can be implemented and measured within 8 weeks, with the ability to scale up to serve the entire agency if proven. Each company has discretion to create an achievable scope of work they are comfortable taking on.

What is the role of the Transit Tech Lab? How will they support selected participants?

The Transit Tech Lab administers the Lab. We set up the process, recruit companies, ensure all information is submitted, and support the subject matter evaluators from the transit agencies, private sector and public health world as they evaluate companies. After selection, we ensure a successful proof of concept and/or pilot by helping to address any hurdles.

Have any previous pilots led to commercial agreements?

Yes, for example Remix was selected for a yearlong pilot and successfully moved to a commercial engagement with MTA - New York City Transit

Will a technology that takes more than 8 weeks validate be excluded from consideration?

No. This can be addressed on a case by case basis. We encourage you to apply via the F6S portal.

What is the difference between the semi-finalist presentation and the demo day?

On pitch day you will have the opportunity to present your solution to leaders across regional transit agencies and private sector experts. Each presenting team will have a total of 25 minutes: 10 minute oral presentation with slides and 15 minutes of Q&A from the judges.

Evaluators will select companies to demonstrate their product at the end of each pitch day. On demo day you will have the opportunity to present your product to a wider audience of regional transit subject matter experts in a fair-style exposition.

Both events will be held online.

Can one proposer submit multiple applications for different scopes of work and/or different agencies?

Yes, you can submit multiple solutions. Each solution should be submitted separately.

Can you share examples of how previous startups were able to take advantage of NYSERDA grant funding during their pilot?

If a company is selected to participate in a year-long pilot, they may apply to NYSERDA for grant funding. In the past, startups have used NYSERDA funding to integrate software tools, conduct surveys, train agency staff, and install hardware. Each funded project demonstrated how their project could reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and outlined key deliverables to demonstrate how the completed work could make transit more efficient and sustainable.

Is it required for me to be in NYC for the entire duration of the 8-week POC and 12-month pilot?

No. If COVID-conditions permit, we request companies attend in person kickoff sessions and final presentations.

How would you Introduce a new product to the Transit authority?

Through three steps: (1) Companies submit an application through the website: https://www.f6s.com/transit-tech-lab-challenge-2022. (2) Expert evaluators select the most compelling solutions for a proof of concept. (3) Companies with successful proof of concepts deploy their technology at scale, to address the challenge they applied to resolve.

What is the appetite for intermodal/MaaS projects to help with the COVID recovery?

While intermodal/MaaS solutions are not specifically preferred in this challenge, any solution that addresses a challenge statement is welcome to apply.

What is your track record of deploying products? 

Of the 15 companies selected to complete pilots with regional transit agencies, 5 have gone on to deploy their technologies in a commercial capacity.

Are there success metrics that you can share specifically for pandemic recovery?

Broadly, agencies are looking for solutions that may increase customer confidence in returning to public transit. Any product that supports this goal is encouraged to apply. Each pilot has metrics specific to the product that is evaluated. Product-specific metrics will be jointly agreed upon by the transit agency and the company when defining the scope of work.

Applications all will be vetted by the following criteria: 

  • 25% Impact: Technology is workable in the MTA's environment, presents a viable solution relevant to the chosen challenge, and has the potential to positively impact performance and/or customer experience
  • 25% Product: Technology is in prototype or later phase and available for live demonstration and the applicant is able to present metrics illustrating market fit and use by paying customers
  • 25% Team: The company has a qualified team and is available for participation in person in New York City throughout the Transit Tech Lab program
  • 25% Value: The technology presents a new way of deriving more value from existing MTA assets, presents a potential new revenue source or cost savings for the MTA and/or offers an opportunity to more efficiently manage infrastructure, operations or customer service

Can participation be in both categories or just one or the other?

Yes, you can submit solutions to both categories. Please submit separate applications if presenting more than one solution. 

Who are the judges?

The lab works with public and private sector judges, who help select the most promising applicants. Public sector judges are subject matter experts on areas of sustainability, safety, operations, and customer experience. Private sector judges include:

Rob Parker - SIF Capital Advisors
Sophie Purdom - Climate Tech VC
Dylan Hixon - Arden Road Investments
Ken Bronfin - Hearst
Sue Yang - Antin Infrastructure Partners
Don Tappan - Braemar Energy Ventures
Jenieri Cyrus - Urban Innovation Fund

What has set apart past years winners of the challenges?

Companies that have a market-test product that is scalable and can be integrated to help agencies save money, time, or improve customer experience in a quantifiable and cost-effective way have had the most success.

Are you looking for ways to measure carbon emissions and manage execution of decarbonization efforts?

Yes.

Does an innovation in the water sector related to sustainability apply to this challenge?

Any solution that addresses a challenge statement is eligible to apply. 

What technologies are in place that need replacing and which are widely adopted already? If a major company was to build something from scratch where would you like them to focus?

Agencies are pursuing initiatives that build a safer, more sustainable transit system. If your company offers a solution to this effect, you are encouraged to apply. To learn more about each challenge please visit the Sustainability and Recovery challenges pages, respectively. In general, we are seeking technologies that can be measured and tested in an 8 week period of time. 

Please note the eligibility criteria for the Transit Tech Lab - we are looking for growth stage companies who have post-beta technologies. The lab does not accept custom-built solutions.   

Can we have an idea of the top challenges that agencies are facing today related to the sustainability challenge?

This challenge calls for technologies that help make public transportation more responsive to extreme weather events and that reduce greenhouse emissions. Some priority areas include: increasing energy efficiency and exploring new power sources, facilitating rail and road electrification, among others. Additional examples and resources can be found on the Sustainability challenge page. These examples are not intended to limit innovative solutions. Any product that addresses a challenge statement is welcome to apply.

Which challenges are most important for you to solve?

Both listed challenges have been identified as top priorities. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to present innovative solutions in their application. Apply now.

Are there additional datasets, specifically APC datasets available, that we can use for the challenge? What kind of solutions are you looking for?

Any solution that addresses a challenge statement is eligible to apply. Please use your discretion in submitting an application. 
While APC data is not publicly available, public feeds can be found here: https://new.mta.info/developers 

Could a curb management solution that incentivizes environmentally friendly commercial deliveries be eligible to apply?

Any solution that addresses a challenge statement is eligible to apply. Please use your discretion in submitting an application.

Our proposal may involve video analytics operating on video streams coming from surveillance cameras. In that case, would an agency procure the necessary computing to power the technology?

The challenge calls for solutions that are available for live demonstration with existing resources. Products with prerequisites for implementation should note resources or support that would be needed for implementation (application question #28). We invite you to review the evaluation criteria (Section 5.2) to learn more about how technologies are evaluated.

Are technologies that are not centered on physical technologies eligible to apply?

Yes, any solution that addresses a challenge statement is eligible to apply and will receive equal weight for scoring and selection.

Is it possible for companies to receive additional data during the testing phase? 

Yes, companies selected for the proof of concept will be able to request additional data. In the meantime, we invite you to review resources available on the Recovery Challenge webpage (https://transitinnovation.org/challenge/recovery). AI companies interested in downloading sample CCTV data can do so here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3su4odl9s7wwkn6/AAAM_Bk1eKlU7mvAnawMzqp_a?dl=0

How important is it for MTA operators/management to have knowledge of the passenger occupancy rate on a station platform in real time?

Simple real time passenger occupancy tracking technologies are strongly encouraged to apply. Companies that are able to estimate platform occupancy analyzing platform cameras can use CCTV platform footage available on the Recovery Challenge webpage (https://transitinnovation.org/challenge/recovery) and available to download here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3su4odl9s7wwkn6/AAAM_Bk1eKlU7mvAnawMzqp_a?dl=0

Does the MTA currently survey its customers to understand how to adapt its services post-pandemic?

Please find the MTA’s most recent customer survey here: https://new.mta.info/article/mta-customers-count-fall-2021-survey-results

When is NYSERDA funding available to companies?

After a company is selected by a transit agency to conduct a year-long pilot, companies will receive materials to apply for NYSERDA funding.

How do transit agencies procure relevant solutions?

Proof-of-concept participants have the opportunity to present their solutions to procurement specialists and learn about each agency's procurement process. Procurement varies by technology, company type, and solution. We invite you to apply to the program for an opportunity to learn more during the Transit Tech Lab.

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