Jaguar Land Rover Portland Tech Incubator Welcomes Two New Start-Ups

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For the next six months, LISNR and PILOT Automotive Labs will work side by side with Jaguar Land Rover on in-car connectivity and advanced driver-assistance systems, respectively.

Back in February, we told you Jaguar Land Rover had recruited three new start-ups focused on connected/automated cars, natural language/voice controls, and electric vehicle charging for its Portland Tech Incubator program. Now comes news that Jaguar Land Rover has signed up two more start-up companies.

LISNR is a company that uses inaudible sound waves (aka Smart Tones) to transmit information. In the JLR Tech Incubator program, it’ll concentrate on in-car connectivity tied into seat personalization, remote apps, and keyless entry. LISNR will also be working on ways to eliminate the risks associated with transmitting data peer-to-peer between connected devices.

PILOT is working on future technology that offers the ability to apply modern ADAS features to legacy vehicles currently on the roads, improving safety and the driving experience for the customer. PILOT could assist and/or provide drivers with navigation, voice control, road sign and traffic signal detection, forward collision warnings, emergency 911 calls, lane departure alerts, and obstacle detection. The technology allows for a gradual path from ADAS to autonomous car functionality.

According to Jaguar Land Rover, “Over the next six months, LISNR and PILOT will be provided with a variety of resources including direct investment and services; development support from the Jaguar Land Rover global engineering teams; mentorship; and designated space within the Portland research and development facilities.”

JLR launched the Tech Incubator program in 2016. It plans to work with approximately 120 start-up companies over the course of a decade. It’s currently taking applications for the next wave of the initiative at

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his JK Forum profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK Forum, H-D Forums, The Mustang Source, Mustang Forums, LS1Tech, HondaTech, Jaguar Forums, YotaTech, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts. Derek also started There Will Be Cars on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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