Urban Business Lab Programme is a practical, hands-on and hugely interactive programme for urban entrepreneurs who want to prosper and succeed in the digital economy. We use a data-led business canvas (developed within the MK:Smart Initiative) to shape the working of the programme.

Urban entrepreneurs face some striking challenges:

“Analysts tell us that the Smart Cities market will be worth £400 billion by 2020, and yet nobody seems interested in my new urban software product”

“Creating a new enterprise is hard – it is much, much harder when customers don’t know that they need a Smart Cities product, don’t know where to look for one, and have no idea what such a product costs”

“If the customer does not know how to deal with these issues, what can I, the would-be entrepreneur, do to find customers, sell them my product and build a business?”

The Fronesys-developed data-led business canvas outlines a journey for a typical urban start-up:

  • Identification of the target customer
  • Identification of the problem the customer wants to solve
  • Co-creation of potential solutions to the problem
  • Encapsulation of the target solution in to a product or service
  • Identification of channels to deliver the product to the customer
  • Revenue models
  • Cost models
  • Using metrics to manage the startup process

What we do with the business canvas is to focus it on how you, the entrepreneur, will use it in a data-centric way, either because data might be at the heart of the problem/solution (such as in smart cities) or because data can inform the creation of an innovative solution to a given problem.

But we don’t just give you the theory. We provide tools that are proven in helping startups build valuable businesses. These tools include the best thinking from lean startups, design thinking and customer development.

Urban Business Lab is a Fronesys initiative for CityLabs, which is a place for SMEs to work with academic and industry leaders to develop concepts into prototypes for new products and services in the digital economy. Particularly focused on data driven and IoT developments, the CityLabs team will support SMEs with a programme of Urban Business LabTech Design & Prototype EvaluationConcept Development Grants for developing concepts and access to the MK Data Hub.

Find out more about CityLabs, an academic and business consortium featuring the Open University, Fronesys and ZTE. CityLabs is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.