Triggering innovation in rail

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!

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

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!

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?

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.

Touring IAA Conference in Frankfurt with our 2019 delegation

Touring IAA Conference in Frankfurt with our 2019 delegation

For the 3rd time this year, the European Startup Prize for Mobility (EUSP) has awarded 10 startups with the opportunity to boost themselves in the European mobility landscape. Since its founding in 2017, EUSP has toured the biggest European mobility events with these promising startups. For this 2nd edition of the prize, the winners are: Einride, OpenAirlines, TWAICE, Karhoo, Cargoroo, Shotl, K-ryole, Geovelo, Blickfeld, and Cityscoot.

Since April, these ten startups have taken part in a European tour of the biggest and most important mobility-related conferences and events around Europe. The tour kicked off at the European New Mobilities Summit in Brussels, followed by Viva Technology in Paris and ITS European Congress in Brainport. For the second-to-last stop on this tour, EUSPM winners stopped in Frankfurt for the New Mobility World (NMW) event of the IAA Conference.

This year’s edition focused on automation, connectivity, clean and sustainable mobility, urban mobility, and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). Amidst the well-established German automotive industry, these startups represent a breath of fresh air into the future of mobility. It was at NMW – in its Startup Zone in particular – that we could engage with future solutions. Efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly transportation stood at the core of this event aimed at redefining the way we conceive of transportation.

Startups such as Cargoroo, K-ryole, Cityscoot, Karhoo, Shotl, and Geovelo develop solutions that are helping us choose greener and more effective options for transportation, while startups like Einride, TWAICE, and Blickfeld employ advanced AI technology to fundamentally redefine the way we conceive of mobility. Lastly, OpenAirlines endeavors to optimize air travel, which remains our most-used mode of long-distance transportation.

NMW featured many such cutting-edge solutions, from green initiatives to autonomous driving to AI-dependent traffic safety solutions. Safe to say that our startups in the Startup Zone presented ideas that form part of a greener, more effective vanguard in the mobility landscape.

Six winners have been awarded the Silver Award, which includes exposure from EUSP, networking opportunities, the all-expenses-paid tour of European Mobility events, as well as an official economic and ecological rating. In addition, four winners will be awarded the Gold Award, which includes tailored mentoring from the Boston Consulting Group in addition to the above.

The ten startups were given the opportunity to exhibit their products and solutions in the Startup Zone at NMW, participate in a pitching competition in which one startup could win two exhibitor passes to NMW 2020, and to schedule meetings with prominent ecosystem players at the conference. After long days of exhibiting, the startups were also given access to important IAA networking events to engage with the mobility ecosystem in a more informal setting.

At NMW this year’s EUSP startups pitched in front of an audience that voted for their favorites, where TWAICE was awarded two exhibitors’ passes for NMW in 2020. The pitching competition was followed by a visit from the founder of the EUSP herself, Karima Delli, who toured the Startup Zone to chat with the startups in person and Grégory Merly, the Managing Director of the EUSP.

After another successful event of networking and exhibiting, the startups are now gearing up for the final leg of the tour: Smart City Expo World Congress from the 19th – 21st of November, taking place in wonderful Barcelona.

For more details, please contact:

Grégory Merly

Managing Director of the EUSP

+336 58 88 80 95