Triggering innovation in rail

Shift2Rail is a proud member of the 2020 edition of the European Startup Prize for Mobility. We had the honour and pleasure of asking the institution’s Executive Director, Mr Carlo Borghini a few questions about rail, innovation, and the current crisis.

How is S2R triggering innovation in the rail community?

Shift2Rail is about bringing people with different backgrounds, interests, experience, and perspectives to work together and co-create new operational and technological solutions that will change how rail is running and the services provided.

Innovation is triggered by the need to deliver such a transformation: on the one hand, the railway operating community sees its capacity to meet clients’ expectations eroding and, on the other hand, the supply industry sees global competition as more aggressive and, in some cases, unfair.

The meeting point of these two counterparts is Shift2Rail, and together with the research and scientific community, innovation is created, moving away from evolutive maintenance and looking to new challenges! Creativity and innovation can happen in Shift2Rail because different mindsets and competences, that would otherwise never have worked together, are joined to achieve a common R&I goal.

How is S2R engaging with startups in general and why did it choose to join EUSP in particular?

We decided to join the EUSP to ensure we engage with startups more and more! One of the major limitations we currently have is the lack of tools to attract startups and engage with them as much as we would like! Fortunately, most of our members bring into their work with Shift2Rail the startups with which they are already connected. However, increasing our engagement with startups in the future by adopting an agile approach to input their creativity and disruption in an overregulated system of systems, will be an important challenge to address in the next programming period.

What is your current vision of the post-Coronavirus road transport world? What will be the main changes and trends (e.g. individual modes of transport vs public; the risk on shared mobility, etc.)?

There is great uncertainty concerning the post-Coronavirus world. Through R&I we can experiment with different technologies, processes and innovations that could provide the best solutions for addressing different possible scenarios.

During the Coronavirus pandemic rail freight has deployed its means and really delivered, showing rail’s impressive potential to serve the logistic value chain. The post-Coronavirus era will inevitably carry with it the reactions to a major shock (e.g. health safety, fear, short term solutions, etc.). Shift2Rail’s service-oriented approach is all about rethinking rail mobility and transport, to deliver sustainable and resilient  systems, by building upon digitaliation, automation, robotics, supercomputing capacity, etc. We expect a great contribution from startups in helping us to achieve this!

What advice can you give to startups working in the railway sector today in light of the crisis?

It is tough, but do not give up: together with the H2020 Research and Innovation family we are doing everything we can to ensure that activities continue to move forward and opportunities remain available. The railway has demonstrated the important role it can play and opportunities for further engagement will come!

Be fast, do not be afraid to knock on the door of what appear to be big institutional bodies, but especially remember to knock on the door of Shift2Rail: we are working to ensure that the best R&I results hit the market, and when we can go fast, we will!

What is your main message for EU and national decision makers for supporting the industry during these difficult times? What would you call on them to do?

As a small EU institution, technically a body, we are ensuring we do more, together with the EU decision makers, to get through these difficult times. We have not and will not stop, and are all fully committed and operational to ensure resources are available, calls are processed and we come out stronger. Shift2Rail is all about working together, and it is only together that we will make it!

What current or upcoming work is S2R involved in that could be interesting for startups?

One of the topics in our current 2020 Call for Proposals is about aspects of non-traditional and emerging land transport technologies, and this certainly could be an area startups could be interested in working with us on. Remember, the deadline to apply is 27 May! We are also busy preparing for our next programming period 2021 – 2030. Help us shape it by telling us how you would like to work with us, by writing to!

Thank you Shift2Rail for your trust and for being such a committed partner of this year’s edition!

First “Day After” Investments Opportunities starting in June, joining our partner ESAC private series

18 May 2020 

The European Super Angels Club and the European Startup Prize join forces to help sustainable mobility companies recover from the COVID-19 economic crisis

Selected companies from the European Startup Prize (EUSP) best mobility startups will be reviewed and potentially selected by European Super Angels Clubs (ESAC) investors. The ESAC is Europe’s leading private investors network. ESAC is known for its exclusive “Invest and Connect” pitch events and its tough selection process.

Following 6 previous editions, focussed on areas like artificial intelligence, digital health, sportstech, this year’s “Invest and Connect” startup award series will be centered around smart mobility. 7 national qualifier events will be held in order to select startups with the highest-growth potential all over Europe. The French virtual event – 4th June, 5:30pm – will kick of the event series. The European Finals of this event series will take place in 3rd December 2020, in Berlin. 

This collaboration roots in the EUSP “Day After Programme”, together with the European Investment Bank (EIB), EIT Urban Mobility and EIT InnoEnergy, which consists in providing a fast track for investment for the best European startups in the field of sustainable mobility. For the year 2020, 550 startups applied for the EUSP and will be given a chance to benefit from the “Day After Programme”.

As Europe’s leading private investors network, European Super Angels Club is excited to collaborate with the European Startup Prize initiative. We will combine the best of both worlds and offer even better chances for European talents and support their growth stories. Our core mission, is to shed light on talents and invest in the most promising cases. Given the current economic turbulences, we are proud our investors did not stop to consider new deals.” – said Berthold Baurek-Karlic, President of the European Super Angels Club.

The 2020 edition of the European Startup Prize for Mobility looks like no other. It was important for us to offer more investment opportunities to our community of startups. EU investment bodies such as EIB and EIT showed solidarity. So did the ESAC by opening the doors of their Smart Mobility Awards investment series and a fast track to European private investment. EUSP startups are now under the screening of their experts and I keep my fingers crossed for them” – said Karima Delli, Chairwoman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism at the European Parliament and President of the EUSP.

About ESAC:

The European Super Angels Club (ESAC), follows the mission of collaboration between European investors (business angels, high-net-worth individuals, family offices, corporates venture capital units and venture funds), leading corporates and startups. Members combine their individual financial strength, network and know-how to invest in high-growth European startups. Typical rounds range from €1-10m. ESAC to-date has invested in companies worth more than €70 million, of which a significant increase of more than €20 million. The club syndicates investment in a dedicated fund, managed by Venionaire Ventures Sárl based in Luxemburg.

About EUSP:

The EUSP is the biggest EU Acceleration Programme, supported by the European Parliament and the European Commission and targeting European mobility startups. For three years, the EUSP has awarded 10 best startups, according to their market traction and sustainability criteria. Those winners have thus benefited from a tailored-made mentoring, in order to help them scale up to the European market. For the first time this year, due to the COVID-19 socio-economic crisis, the “Acceleration programme” has been turned into a “Reinvestment programme”, channelling investments from the EU and European partners, in order to help startups support their business.

Press contacts:

EUSP: Grégory Merly, Managing Director, M +336 58 88 80 95, 

ESAC: Bernadett Nagy, Head of Marketing, M +43 664 88268466,

EU Startup Prize for mobility: 550 startups applied for the “Day After Programme”

550 European sustainable mobility startups have applied for the 2020 edition of the EUSP. The applications closed on April 30, 2020 at midnight. The EUSP is the biggest EU-funded Prize rewarding mobility startups and a 6-month Acceleration Program for its 10 winning startups each year.

The Challenge of the 2020 edition was shaken up by the Covid-19 epidemic, the entry into confinement and the economic pressure which is increasing day by day on the world of innovation. To better meet the expectations of startups in this period of socio-economic crisis and transformation of (de-)mobility habits, the EUSP -with the help of its confounders ViaID and BCG- has increased its programme by an important financial component, the “Day After Programme”. It aims to provide new investment opportunities to the the start-ups that build the European mobility of tomorrow.

For Karima Delli, Chairwoman of the Transport and Tourism Committee in the European Parliament and President of the EUSP:

“It is a success but it is above all a distress signal that should alarm us all. These 550 startups expect Europe to make a strong financial gesture to help them adapt to the crisis. This is why we have set up bridges between the EUSP and the European Investment Bank this year, as well as with European funding programmes (EIT Urban Mobility and EIT InnoEnergy) and private investors. We will never stop finding solutions for these startups who have placed their trust in us. “

About us:

The EUSP is a unique European Acceleration Program, which supports European startups in the field of sustainable mobility. It was founded in 2018 by Karima Delli, President of the Transport Commission in the European Parliament, Boston Consulting Group and ViaID – Mobivia. This year, the EUSP brings together the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Investment Bank in an unprecedented support programme for investment, the “Day After Programme”. This new programme was made possible thanks to the dedication of our partners (list below), which maintained their involvement and support despite the difficult times they are going through.

Press contact:

Grégory Merly
Managing Director of the EUSP
tel. +336.

EUSP “Day After Programme” will focus on reinvestment

The European Startup Prize is announcing its « Day After Programme »

After 2 editions of setting up an « Acceleration Programme » for the 10 best European mobility startups in 2018 and 2019, the EUSP has now become a « Day After Programme», providing a fast track to reinvestment. Thanks to our new partners (EIB, EIT Urban Mobility, EIT InnoEnergy and ESAC), new opportunities for our community of 1500 startups will be offered to connect with European investors in order to support their new mobility & post-covid challenges.

Press release from the Co-founders of the EU Startup Prize:

Karima Delli, Member of the European Parliament and Chairwoman of the Transports Committee 

Joël Hazan, Partner and Managing Director at Boston Consulting Group

Jean-François Dhinaux, Head of Strategy & Partnership at Via-ID

Why a « Day After Programme »?

“It made no sense to continue our business as usual. I really believe in our acceleration programme but, this year, given the extraordinary circumstances, we need to help all our startups. This crisis is also an opportunity to reset the innovation ecosystem for mobility in order to make it greener, cleaner and more inclusive. So it is really a matter of saving European innovation and give it a better chance to bloom greener after the storm“, said Mrs Delli.

“The economic situation is not yet stabilized but startups will eventually need investors to be back on the scene as soon as possible. That’s why it was essential to work on a fast track to provide new opportunities for our startups with European investors. Not to mention that the European Investment Bank and the EIT Urban Mobility are now joining forces with us so our startups can have an additional chance to benefit from their EU-funded programmes.”, added Jean-François Dhinaux, CMO and Strategy at Via-ID.

Once startups apply for our Prize, they are given opportunities to jump into a series of pitch sessions in front of public and private investors. We will organise those online if we are still under restrictions but we will make sure that there will be pitch sessions for every level of startups including Pre-seed, Seed, Serie A and Serie B.“, underlines Joël Hazan, Partner and Managing Director at the Boston Consulting Group.

The 10 winners of the EU Startup Prize 2020, together with the rest of our startup community (TOP 10 and TOP 50 of the editions 2018-2019-2020 in particular), will be offered a dedicated reinvestment programme, channeling European public and private funds, in order to help them recover from the social and economic crisis. 

1/ “Pitch sessions” in front of European investors:
Many thanks to our new partners the European Investment Bank, the EIT Urban Mobility, the EIT InnoEnergy and the European Super Angels Club, which bring a tremendous added-value to our programme and show the true meaning of European solidarity.

  • dedicated pitch session in front of the European Investment Bank (EIB) experts, targeting some of our SMEs who find themselves eligible to the “Future mobility” funding programme of the EIB;
  • dedicated pitch session in front of the EU-funded programme EIT Urban Mobility, covering among others pre seeds and early seeds in order to access their « Finance2Move » programme;
  • dedicated pitch session in front of the EU-funded investor EIT InnoEnergy that supports pre-seed and seed-stage startups with different acceleration programmes and finance but also engages in innovation projects with scale-ups, midsize companies and corporates;

2/ A “Demo Day” in front of European investors:

(planned on the 10th of September 10am-12am, tbc)

  • Top 10 of the edition 2020 of the EU Startup Prize will be put under the spotlight
  • showcase in front of investors (EU and national public funds, investment branch of big mobility corporations, angels/VCs/CVCs)
  • private deal rooms are also on the menu

3/ A “Day After Manifesto” to open dialogue with EU decision makers:

(planned on the 21th of September at the European Commission, tbc)

  • The EU Startup Prize is crowdsourcing its large community of startups to collect ideas and solutions, in the form of a Manifesto, that will be delivered to the EU level so the EU can better support green innovation in the aftermath of Covid-19.
  • It starts with a survey: to be filled by startups (startups which never applied to the EUSP are very much welcome to take the survey too!). It takes no more than 10 minutes.
  • In that regard, the top 10 will be presenting the Manifesto to:

    – Vice President Maros Sefcovic of the European Commission on Foresight, in charge of the European Battery Alliance, will pick up the best ideas to feed this European Commission roadmap;
    – Chairwoman Karima Delli of the Committee on Transport will also open the doors of the European Parliament by presenting the Manifesto to the Green members of the Transport, Energy, Environment and Industry Committee.
  • Wanna be part of it? Fill in and share our survey. The more contributions, the more impactful we will be !

(The design thinking process of the Manifesto is powered by EUSP in collaboration with The Morph Company (Berlin) and Yellow Design Foundation (Brussels))

4/ The Grand Ceremony

Given the cancellation of the Ceremony that was first planned in Vivatech in June, a new Ceremony will be now programmed for the end of the year (date and place to be confirmed)

5/ 1 million APIs designed by TomTom will be offered to the top 50 startups

In addition to the above, the 4 Gold award winners of the EU Prize Ceremony will be awarded with an extra 4 million APIs.



  • 20 February 2020: application opened
  • 30 April 2020: applications closed
  • May 2020: announcement of the top 50 
  • July 2020: announcement of the top 10
  • September-November 2020: implementation of the “Day After Programme”
  • November 2020: Ceremony and appointment of the Gold Awards



Press kit:


Communication kit: 

Link for startups to apply: 

Follow us on Social Media: #EUSPformobility 



Grégory Merly, Managing Director 

+336 58 88 80 95



Graphic version:

EUSP startups fighting COVID19 (from confinement)

During these unprecedented times of the Coronavirus, we are obviously all thinking about our health, our families, our business continuity and our economy at large. Yet, some companies have managed to reach out and adapt their services to the particular societal needs of the hour. We are extremely proud of some of our past EUSP winners who have shown agility and leadership in tackling the current situation, even from confinement. Here are three examples of startups from our two previous editions who are providing dedicated mobility service for essential workers during the crisis:

Free-floating e-scooters platform, CityScoot, has launched a feature called CityHelp for caregivers in Paris and Nice. The feature offers caregivers in these respective cities 30 minutes every day for FREE. This allows caregivers who do not own their own vehicle to avoid public transport and commute on their own. If you happen to know a caregiver in one of these cities, invite them to register here

On-demand shuttle mobility platform Shotl, has launched a new innovative product that helps cities adapt their fleets to facilitate the mobility of – and only of – essential workers. The product permits buses to avoid unnecessary stops, limit their capacity and restricts access only to authorised passengers. This idea could also feed into the debate of the lockdown exit strategy, in which we will probably see a gradual release based on criteria which governments will be determining.

Finally, Karhoo, typically a B2B marketplace for taxi services, has just offered the British and French governments to use its platform in order to provide critical staff with access to state-sponsored transport service. Once again, by ensuring that high-risk populations avoid public transport, we can slow down the spread of the pandemic. And even if they own their own cars, driving after an endless shift at the hospital is not necessarily the best idea. The least we can do to thank them is to send them home comfortably to get some rest. 

But the challenge is not just about helping essential workers commute; it’s also about ensure essential goods reach their destinations. Cocolis is a peer-to-peer delivery service, active in France. The company is currently recruiting volunteers volunteers to transport urgent materials to hospitals, nursing homes, and people in need, using its sharing platform. If you want to volunteer or ask for help, join their dedicated request platform.

All of these initiatives are a testament that our startup community is not only thinking about their own survival but also about contributing and showing solidarity during these difficult times. We applaud their innovation and their support for front-line essential workers across our societies. While our startups are looking for solutions for the health crisis, we are looking at how we can support our startups during the economic crisis of the day after. That is why, this year for the first time, we will create investment opportunities for our startup community from both EU institutional funds and private ones. 
This could also be another reason for you to apply for this year’s edition (if you haven’t already). Apply by the end of April and show to the world how your innovation can disrupt mobility, making it smarter, cleaner, and more inclusive – whether at times of crisis or normalcy.

Written by Yash Das Sharma & Dan Sobovitz

The European Investment Bank is going to screen EUSP’s top startups

Good news seems rare these days so when we have some, we’re delighted to share it with our community! We just reached an agreement with the biggest multilateral financial institution in the world and one of the largest providers of climate finance; the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The EIB will review the candidate startups of the EUSP 2018, 2019, and 2020 editions in search for companies that can participate in its Future Mobility programme. Those selected by the EIB, will be invited for a dedicated pitching session of EUSP startups. You heard correctly; by applying to this year’s EUSP, you get a chance to pitch in front of those who can make things happen. Don’t stress, we’ll be there to coach and prepare you!

This is yet another way for us at the EUSP to promote Europe’s most promising startups in the field of clean mobility. This could also be another reason for you to apply for this year’s edition (if you haven’t already). Given the Coronavirus crisis, we have extended the deadline for application until 30 April.

Stay home, stay healthy, and we hope to see you soon!


You now have 5 weeks to apply!

In case you somehow missed it, on Thursday we gathered the entire EUSP ecosystem in Berlin’s Drivery to kickstart the 2020 edition. In front of a packed room of Berliner startups, we held pitches and roundtables among our founders, partners, and judges. But the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly when we counted down to the launch of the Prize application platform. Yes, you heard correctly, you can now use our Agorize platform to submit your application to this year’s EU Startup Prize. The platform will remain open until 31.3.2020.

If you believe in your startup’s ability to disrupt mobility and make it cleaner, smarter, and safer – don’t wait, Apply NOW.  

Meanwhile, here are some of the evening’s highlights:



Berlin, 20.02.2020

The EU Startup Prize community has met with the Berlin tech ecosystem for an evening of conference, networking and to open together the application process of its 2020 edition.

150 startupers, investors and transportation companies were attending the venue. A unique occasion to tell those startups why the European level should be their market and how the EU Startup Prize will help them scale up in this direction.

The EU level, leaded by its founder, Karima Delli, member of the European Parliament and Chairwoman of the Transports Committee, together with representatives of EU bodies (European Investment Bank) and EU-funded programmes for innovation (SESAR, Shift2Rail) explained to the startupers how they can accelerate startups’ development and cooperation.

Big European corporations such as Groupe ADP, RATP group, Europcar Mobility Group, GRDF, TomTom; when the co-founders of the EU Startup Prize, BCG and Via ID, underlined the multiple ways of helping startups to grow and the value of our community for sustainable mobility.

Most importantly the Challenge 2020 is now open: European startups and startups from the associated countries of the programme Horizon 2020 are now invited to apply to our new Prize. They have 6 weeks to complete their registration.

But first step first, the applications are now open at the following link:

Who are Europe’s clean mobility champions?

In exactly one week, the European Starup Prize for Mobility will open its third edition. Right before we start taking new applications from startups across Europe, let’s take stock of the past two editions; who were the winners and front-runners? What countries did they come from? What sector of mobility did they focus on? How advanced were they? Read on, we’ve got you covered…

What moves you?

We recognised a wide distribution of services and products. However, there does seem to be a tend towards B2B services for urban mobility. Sartups clearly recognise the dire need of more and more cities to provide better, smarter, and cleaner mobility solutions and the prefernce of comuters to consume mobility services rather than owning them.  

Where’s home?

As enthusiast Europeans, we like to think that Europe is a whole is our home and playground (and we indeed received applications from all 28 EU Member States). And yet, it was interesting to see where the top performers come from.

We notice a concentration of top performers in Western Europe (both Nordic and Mediterranean), following a loose correlation with levels of wealth and development.

What next?

These figures are an interesting indication of the pace and direction of European innovation. However, this year could still prove very different. First, we expanded the eligibility of the startups (slightly) beyond the EU. This year, we welcome startups from across the EU as well as all assciated countries with the EU Horizon2020 programme. These include strong performers like Israel, Turkey, Norway, and Switzerland. (Oh yeah, and the UK, as far as we’re concerned, you’re still part of the European club! 😊)

Finally, for the first time we’re kicking-off this year’s edition from Berlin, the beating heart of the German ecosystem but also geographically closer to central and eastern Europe. We know there’s tremendous potential of talent and innovation all across this region, which is yet to be revealed. We therefore hope that our voice will be heard even louder this year and that we’ll get more applications from the newer EU Member States as well.

With this in mind, we can’t wait to see where the 3rd edition of the European Startup Prize for Mobility will take us! Who will be the front-runners of this year? Where will they come from? What will they focus on? That’ sup to you! Apply for the 2020 edition between 20.02.2020 and 31.3.2020.

Europe is your playground. We’re just here to boost your game.