Last stop in Barcelona to conclude the 2018 edition! 

Last stop in Barcelona to conclude the 2018 edition! 

Between Tuesday 13  & Thursday 15 November, the 10 European Startups Prize for Mobility (EUSP) champions will travel to Barcelona for the last stop of their European tour. This event follows the ceremony that awarded the 10 most promising European mobility startups on 22 February 2018 in Brussels.

Our 10 winners will be hosted at the SMARTCITY Expo world Congress,  one of the major European events that aims at empowering cities and rolling out urban innovation across the globe. They will have the opportunity to pitch their projects and become familiar with the Spanish ecosystem, including local decision-makers and investors, through roundtables and pitches.

Furthermore, our startups will take part in a high level workshop, in partnership with Wayra Barcelona HQ,  to reflect on « Why and how to set up your mobility startup in Spain? ».

Created by Karima Delli, Member of the European Parliament, Ecologist and Chairwoman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament, the EUSP is dedicated to European startups whose activities are  focused on sustainable, clean and connected mobility. It aims at helping those startups to scale up and become European leaders that will shape the mobility of tomorrow . The prize was launched was cofounded by BCG, Via ID in December 2017 under the high patronage of the European Commission, the European Parliament and several economic stakeholders such as Europcar, GRDF, RATP, ADP… It received more than 500 applications for its first edition.

The 2019 edition is in the pipeline… more info coming soon!

Our goal is simple: to create the European silicon valley for mobility.  #EuropeIsYourPlayground

Come meet the EUSP’s team at the SMART CITY CONGRESS between Tuesday 13  & Thursday 15 November!

Cities need to foster public activism in urban mobility

Cities need to foster public activism in urban mobility

Urban mobility ecosystem is becoming more and more complex, with technology and innovation often going against cities’ public interests. While new mobility solutions (ride-hailing, car-pooling, free-floating vehicles, etc.) are proliferating in all major cities, congestion is still on the rise (+15 to 20pts in travel time between 2008 and 2016 in Paris, Berlin, London and Brussels, according to BCG’s analysis of Tom Tom Traffic Index). The reason for that: a lack of complementarity between mass transit and on-demand mobility solutions. But Mobility-as-a-Service (or MaaS) could soon reshuffle the cards.

“Mobility-as-a-Service” is usually defined as a digital platform supporting end-to-end commuter journey – from planning to payment and ticketing – across all modes of transportation. Commuters’ adoption is expected to be extremely rapid since they increasingly expect convenient and efficient interaction with the mobility ecosystem whereas it is becoming more and more complex given the growing number of options available. If 76% of Ile-de-France residents aged 25-45 have tried free-floating mobility solutions, only 6% use them in their commute, according to the September issue of the BCG Baromètre Mobilité, in partnership with My Little Paris’ Urban Lab.

On the other hand, cities see MaaS as a lever to improve the integration of mass transit and on-demand solutions, and to ultimately lower personal car usage, congestion and pollution.

MaaS has thus become a gold rush for private players: they are in the starting blocks to develop their solution as quickly as possible, to protect their access to end-users and become inescapable… for competitors.

Comprehensive solutions are yet to come: most of existing MaaS platforms remain at the all-inclusive travel pass caricature. They aggregate mobility solutions from different operators, resell unitary tickets to commuters, and charge commissions to operators. The Helsinki-based Whim app is the international reference for MaaS: users can subscribe to a monthly unlimited mobility plan, giving them access to all transportation modes. Even if price point (500€/month) is well above Pass Navigo’s (€75/month), the offer remains attractive for car owners looking for credible alternatives for their daily trips.

However, for MaaS players, economic model remains a struggle. It is sustainable only if users favor cheap transportation modes (e.g., mass transit, bikes), but the all-inclusive pricing strategy often drives them towards ride-hailing and taxi services.

In order to reach sustainable economic models, MaaS players must put in place incentives to encourage commuters to use economical transportation modes. Public authorities are the only ones who can centralize transportation subsidies, tax personal vehicles, enforce such incentives, and therefore enable sustainable economic models for MaaS players. Moreover, public authorities should see MaaS as a tool to foster public activism in mobility, and to help them reach their objectives:

  • Environmental objectives: to drive users towards green modes and to lower personal car usage
  • Economic objectives: to spread traffic across peak and off hours, and to optimize infrastructure utilization
  • Societal objectives: to make urban mobility more inclusive

If technology already exists, operating model remains a question mark. Public authorities must take on this challenge before technology giants transform it in a winner takes all B2C battle. Authorities must reinvent public-private collaboration models, orchestrate rather than delegate, and define precisely what is expected from private players.

Joël Hazan – Partner & Managing Director at BCG; BCG Henderson Institute (BHI) fellow
Hind El Abassi Chraibi – consultant

This article was originally published in Le Monde on October 18 2018

European Startup Prize winners are gonna disrupt the French mobility

European Startup Prize winners are gonna disrupt the French mobility

On October 18 & 19 the winners of the European Startup Prize attended AUTONOMY 2018 in Paris, France as part of our European tour, to disrupt the French mobility.

Once again our startups had an exciting and busy schedule that started with a visit from the French Minister of Transport Elisabeth Borne and the State Secretary on digital Economy, Mounir Mahjoubi to the European Startup Prize for Mobility’s booth. It was an excited moment for our startups that had the opportunity to introduce themselves and present their projects  to the Ministers.

This was followed in the afternoon by a workshop on the French startup and mobility ecosystem. Things are moving fast in France with a lot of new opportunities coming up for mobility startups in the next year. The discussions between the Prize winners and the speakers were quite animated.

On the next day the European Startup Prize for Mobility hosted an event at Autonomy with partners and friends, a great occasion for Karima Delli to announce the second edition of the Prize !  We are really excited to keep collaborating with our partners for the second edition of the Prize that will be launched in December.  More info about it coming soon, keep tune !

Have already confirmed that they are on board for the new edition of the prize : GRDF, ADP, RATP Group, Europcar Mobility group, Ertico, CECRA, Parallel, Grimaldi, Carbon 4…

In the afternoon, the Startups had the opportunity to pitch in front of a crowd of investors and potencial partners.

It is yet another stop of the tour already coming to an end. The whole EU Start Up for Mobility team and startups will meet in Smart City World Congress in Barcelona on 13-14 November, come and meet us  at our booth !


What it will take for biofuels to be the fuels of the future

What it will take for biofuels to be the fuels of the future

Running cars on ethanol made from palm oil, corn or soy is already a wide-spread reality. But the biofuel industry is still far from providing a truly sustainable and clean alternative to fossil fuels — unless it switches its gears.

The quest for alternatives to fossil fuels is not new. In fact, it’s been going on for as long as cars have existed. Originally, Henry Ford planned to fuel is famous Ford T (produced and sold from 1908 to 1927) with ethanol; other early cars were running on peanut oil. And in the years 2000, after decades of near-total hegemony of fossil fuels, the tide started to change again. A renewed enthusiasm for biofuels led the United States to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007, according to which the transportation industry had to adopt biofuels on a large scale, by using them as supplements to traditional fossil fuels. “The beauty of biofuels is that they suck carbon dioxide out of the air as they grow. When we burn them in our automobiles, we release carbon dioxide, but it is the same carbon that the plants absorbed while growing. Just on that basis, biofuels appear to be zero net emitters”, writes professor of thermal sciences John Abraham in The Guardian. And they have the added advantage of being a renewable resource, contrary to fossil fuels.

In Europe, biofuels have had their advocates since the middle of the 2000 decade too. For the past 15 years, the “Fuels of the Future” have had their own international conference, at the initiative of German actors of the bio-based energy sector. Since 2017, the conference includes “renewable mobility” into its main points of focus: “In incorporating this additional content, the conference organisers underline the fundamental importance of all renewable options for decarbonisation of transport. Referring to the ambitious objective of the Paris Climate Agreement, the conference organisers emphasise that decarbonisation of transport cannot be achieved by 2050 unless all these options are deployed.”

Not-so-green crops

In that spirit, the U.S. started to massively grow corn, soybeans and milo to produce ethanol, while Brazil and other tropical countries resort mainly to sugarcane. In Europe, biodiesel (a fuel usually made from palm oil) is widely available. Today, explains Smithsonian Magazine, nearly 40 percent of the U.S.’s corn production is converted to fuel. “But it turns out that the environmental problems associated with growing those crops on an industrial scale—a crop that requires highly fertile land as well as copious irrigation, tillage, and tractor fuel to produce—outweigh the environmental benefits of burning corn-based biofuel.” Because the production process often relies on coal or natural gas — at least in the U.S. –, “biofuels don’t replace as much oil as they use,” explains National Geographic. That’s not all. Some warn that the harvest of sugarcane or palm oil for biofuel could be devastating for the rainforests. And then there’s the question of food: crops (like corn) that could feed people are used to power cars; land that could be used to grow food is requisitioned for biofuel-production purposes. “Agriculture is being challenged by increasing food demand, and changes to regional climate. On top of this, most plans to combat climate change rely on the agricultural sector to increase carbon storage in soils, and to produce raw materials for the large-scale production of biofuels and power,” Dr. John Field, from Colorado State University, sums up in The Guardian.

The right crop, at the right place, in the right way

That doesn’t mean that biofuels are not the way of the future; it means that the biofuels we are producing now are not it. John Abraham recalls co-conducting a study in 2009, whose conclusions were that “if non-commercial crops were grown, you could actually end up with fuel that was significantly cleaner than petroleum. The trick was finding clean crops that don’t need a lot of fertilizer, water, and other inputs. (…) Our conclusion in 2009 was straightforward. Don’t use good cropland for biofuels. Rather, use marginal croplands, with minimal water and fertilizer, to create plants that can be converted to biofuels.” These marginal croplands can be switchgrass (which allows to produce fuel containing more than 5 times as much energy than it takes to grow and refine it) or hemp (which Ford wanted to use for the T Model, and produces nearly four times as much oil per acre as soybeans). According to Smithsonian Magazine, algae, an exotic plant called carrizo cane and a tropical shrub called jatropha are also leads worth exploring.

Of course, each of these solutions have their own specific drawbacks, and the path is not free of hurdles. Dr. John Field and a team of scientists found in a 2018 study published in Nature that marginal croplands give lower yields, which means there are “competing issues of productivity and greenhouse gas reduction,” writes John Abraham. But they also found that farmers make decisions based on the price of biofuels and the cost of greenhouse gases: “Simply put, if we put a reasonable price on carbon pollution, farmers will be able to grow switchgrass, poplars, and other species, reduce greenhouse gases, and make money. But, if there is no cost to carbon pollution, farmers will be motivated to spend more money on fertilizer and that, in the end, will lead to more emissions.” Putting a price on carbon may be the best way to make biofuels the stuff of the future.