Resource Roundup: SEPTA wants your augmented reality ideas for accessible transit - Technical.ly Philly

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Resource Roundup: SEPTA wants your augmented reality ideas for accessible transit

Plus, a portal for PPP loan forgiveness, free legal help from Penn's student clinic, and an energy incubator from PGW and Temple.

A SEPTA train chugs away from Overbrook Station.

(Video by YouTube user Jarrett Stewart, used under a Creative Commons license)

This is Resource Roundup, a look at open applications for business and career-building programs, funding and other opportunities around the region. Want to share a new resource for entrepreneurs and technologists? Email us at philly@technical.ly.


The City of Philadelphia is calling for tech pros to submit ideas around AR technology that can make public transit “more welcoming, comfortable and accessible” to people with disabilities. That can include any part of the “transit journey,” the City said, “from trip planning through arriving at a destination.”

The SEPTA for All: Augmenting Transit with Augmented Reality challenge comes from a partnership between SEPTA and the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability. It’s also a part of the SmartCitiesPHL initiative, a roadmap to use technology to support city government’s economic, social and environmental goals.

The City was initially calling for applications to be submitted through Aug. 2, but that deadline has been extended to Aug. 20. After the initial application process, a judging panel will select up to 12 semi-finalists to present their ideas at a virtual pitch event on Aug. 31. Up to six teams will move on to the final round and receive small grants to develop working prototypes of their ideas. During a demo day on Nov. 9, winning teams will be chosen to receive a total of more than $35,000 in cash prizes and be invited to pilot their idea with SEPTA and the City.

“The pandemic amplified how critical public transit is to Philadelphians,” said Emily Yates, Smart City director, in a statement. “Our communities rely on public transit to accomplish daily tasks like going to work, school, and shopping. We want to make sure that as we reopen, public transit is accessible to all residents and visitors. We believe augmented reality can really help realize this goal and support an equitable recovery.”

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SmartCityPHL invited people with disabilities to share their experiences with navigating public transit through a survey last month, and the results should inform ideas and solutions for the challenge.

Learn more and apply

Free intellectual property legal help

University of Pennsylvania’s Detkin Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic is accepting new clients for its fall semester. The clinic is a “teaching law firm” run by faculty and students that offers free legal help to inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, nonprofits or any individual or entity with intellectual property needs in copyright, trademark, patents, privacy and data. The clinic can help clients create and implement an IP protection strategy, for instance, or negotiate licenses and other deal documents.

Applications for council are open through Sept. 5. The legal work is completed for free, but if your work requires government fees (for example, filing a trademark application), clients will be responsible for paying that fee.

Apply for legal help

Paycheck Protection Plan portal opens

The U.S. Small Business Administration is launching a streamlined application portal to allow borrowers who have Paycheck Protection Program loans of $150,000 or less to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA. The new forgiveness platform began accepting applications from borrowers on Aug. 4, and lenders are required to opt in to this program. In addition to the technology platform, the SBA is standing up a PPP customer service team to answer questions and directly assist borrowers with their forgiveness applications. Borrowers can call 877-552-2692 Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said that the vast majority of businesses who are waiting for forgiveness have loans that are under that $150,000 threshold. In 2021, the average PPP loan size was about $42,000 and 96% of businesses that received loans had 20 employees or less.

“These entrepreneurs are busy running their businesses and are challenged by an overly complicated forgiveness process,” she said in a statement. “We need to deliver forgiveness more efficiently so they can get back to enlivening our Main Streets, sustaining our neighborhoods and fueling our nation’s economy.”

Join the portal

PGW + Temple Energy Innovation Lab

Philadelphia Gas Works is partnering with Temple University’s Small Business Development Center for an incubator called the Energy Innovation Lab. One or two energy entrepreneurs will be chosen to go through the two-year incubator program receiving business, financial and technical support as well as mentoring, a cash stipend up to $30,000 and dedicated office and meeting space at Temple’s SBDC.

Examples of relevant focus areas include energy-related technologies, applications, business models, software and services. Apps will be accepted through Sept. 17, and finalists will be announced in October, with an estimated six to 10 entrepreneurs going to a second round pitch competition. The winner or winners will be announced by December.

Learn more and apply

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And check out these programs from previous Resource Roundups that are still open:

  • Philadelphia Office of Business Services’ Zoom With Us hosts virtual office hours the second and fourth Monday of each month.
  • PHL Career Portal is a free, virtual training and resource hub for folks who are job hunting.
  • PropelPHL aims to convene the entire Greater Philadelphia region’s workforce ecosystem.
  • Build Back Better Regional Challenge will provide economic and development investment in up to 30 regions across the U.S.
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