Selected among 550+ candidate startups, 12 European sustainable mobility startups pitched their concept and development projects last night in front of a VIP jury of the European Union and innovation sector during the 3rd Final Ceremony of the European Startup Prize for mobility.
“These four brilliant European startups convinced the jury of the Prize on the basis of criteria of innovation, sustainability, inclusion and market traction. It is clear to our European experts and to the public that they are mobility operators that will build future of mobility in the years to come. ” said Karima Delli, Chairwoman of the Transport Committee in the European Parliament and President of the European Startup Prize for mobility.
The Ceremony has already been viewed 270,000 times and received 10,000 votes from the public. Public interest in green innovation has never been higher. Watch REPLAY.
Hello Jean-Francois and welcome to our blog, this time not (only) as one of the EUSP co-founders but also as a founder and CEO of a new startup. Tell us about the decision to go back to your entrepreneurial life particularly now in the midst of a global crisis.
Thanks! Well you know, I was an entrepreneur when I joined ViaID 5 years ago and during these five years, I felt like an entrepreneur because I had the chance to create and contribute to many impactful initiatives, like co-founding the EUSUP with Karima Delli, founding the Moovelab at StationF in Paris or creating the Mobility Club by ViaID. During the first lookdown, I realised that it was time for me to go back to my roots.
In fact, a crisis offers many opportunity for entrepreneurs, a lot of successful companies were created during past crises, like Uber, Whatsapp, Slack to name a few…
What is AZFALTE offering companies and employees and how does your service compare (and compete) with others in France and other European countries?
AZFALTE is offering corporate bikes (mostly e-bikes), as a new service that helps companies attract and develop employee loyalty, simply by offering them new means of transport.
This market is already strong in Germany and Belgium but rather new in France. Covid has accelerated the development of this opportunity; reconsigning it is a historical moment, I’ve decided to act on it.
We are starting in France which is a huge market but also quite a unique one: you cannot only rely on bike retail shop because they are not so many compared to countries like Germany.
We therefore developed strong partnerships, especially with ALD Automotive, a European leader of long term vehicle leasing.
We’ve seen many cities transforming their urban planning as a result of the crisis, with bikes lanes suddenly in the limelight, even in countries where there was traditionally lower use of micro-mobility. Do you expect that ‘Bike is the new normal’ would continue in the coming years after the crisis? Or is there a risk that we return to our old habits?
“Bike is the new normal” is the baseline of AZFALTE! And yes, we do believe that we have reached a shifting point! The current Covid crisis has a strong impact which I expect to last over time, we are in winter time now and we still have a lot of bikes on the road, this new world is here!
You’ve been mentoring and advising startups for many years (through EUSP and other accelerators) but was there anything you’ve learned from the EUSP startups that you’ve seen that you’ll want to apply at AZFALTE?
Oh yes, I’ve done this job, and sometime I still do this job, because it also gives me energy, and I learn from every entrepreneur, every team.
What I have definitely leaned is that it’s rarely the best idea that wins. It is rather usually the best team, so I spend my time to build the strongest team!
What are the next main objectives and milestones that AZFALTE is aiming at?
We aim at leading the French market through exponential growth by next year. As soon as this is done, we’ll look at other market; I maintain the EUSP moto: “Europe is my playground”!
All that’s left is to wish you best of luck in our European playground!
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 email@example.com!
Thank you Shift2Rail for your trust and for being such a committed partner of this year’s edition!
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!
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:
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.