What makes the European ecosystem different to other mobility ecosystems?  What is the secret sauce of the European mobility ecosystem? By Via ID

The mobility landscape is becoming more and more complex. It must be reinvented – and we, as Europeans, have all the legitimacy to do so. Why? Because we have all the ingredients to make Europe the playground for future unicorns of mobility: a strong legacy to capitalize on, a pool of regional skills to empower innovation and startups, and more…

At the beginning were… New mobilities

“New mobility” has moved into everyday language. And for good reasons: we are at a turning point and it is one of the major social challenges of tomorrow. But is this really new? Each great epoch came with its own “new mobility” narrative. Each revolution was provoked by new means of transport: the use of the horse for conquests, migrations, agriculture; the great discoveries made by sailors; the train was the driving force of the first industrial revolution; the thermal car, that of the second industrial revolution…

Today, we have entered the 3rd industrial revolution: that of intelligent, sustainable and connected mobility. With 10 billion inhabitants on earth in 2050, 66% of whom will be urban dwellers, the mobility landscape is changing and becoming more complex.

On the one hand, the constraints weighing on cities will increase: saturation of existing infrastructures, scarcity of available space in cities, environmental pressure, public health problems, budgetary constraints on the development of new infrastructures… On the other hand, the needs for travel are changing: search for immediacy and convenience (transportation on demand, door-to-door), explosion of travel options needs, increased user-consumer demand, disinterest of younger generations for the private car…

We must reinvent our global mobility. And we, as Europeans, have all the legitimacy to do so. Why?

Europe and mobility: a true love story

As the cradle of “new mobility”, Europe has always been the creator of mobility solutions. We have built up a solid expertise on the subject and some of the largest transport companies are from the old continent: Airbus, Transdev, Ratp, Siemens, Volkswagen, Deutch Bahn, Renault…

In addition, we have extraordinary infrastructures and a unique diversity of means of transport per square metre in most of the major European regions: metro, trains, buses, trams, shared bicycle systems, shared cars, shared scooters… Many of them were launched in Europe before being deployed and copied all over the world (TGV, Vélib’, …). We are also driving the widespread adoption of soft mobility.

In Amsterdam, there are three times more bicycles than cars and in Copenhagen, the modal share of bicycles exceed cars by the end of 2016. It is a unique legacy to capitalize on. To go faster and further.  It’s a force we’re envied for. More and more American and Asian mobility start-ups are looking for European investors. Not for their capital but for their “Smart Money”: their expertise and know-how.

Europe: a pool of regional skills to empower innovation and startups

In addition, the diversity of our cultures and sensitivities has allowed us to develop local and recognized skills to empower innovation and startups:

  • Berlin and its high “execution control” with the Rocket internet With more than 100 startups to its credit, the concept of this incubator-investor is to duplicate and fine-tune successful web startup concepts in less than 100 days. Stars such as Zalando, HelloFresh or Foodora are part of the adventure.
  • London and its investment know-how. According to Tech City, the UK attracts about a third of all venture capital money available within Europe. 60 % of tickets delivered in the British ecosystem exceed 20 million euros in 2016 and investment in the UK represents 1.34 billion euros in 146 deals in the 3rd quarter of 2017.
  • Helsinki and its “Mobility as a Service” model. Finland is a pioneer and strongly contributes to promoting the MaaS concept in Europe and around the world. With the Whim app, 10,000 passengers at Helsinki get the transport services that they need (bike, cars, taxi…), travelling doorstep to doorstep, with only one ticket and fare.

A tough market but a springboard for future unicorns

Needs and consumption patterns in the European market are heterogeneous. It is a challenge that requires adapting to each specific market: different regulations, market size, consumer habits, taxation, recruitment, financing, etc.

However, for early-stage European companies these difficulties are also a tremendous opportunity to gain agility, inventiveness, and adaptability. The natural resilience acquired by successfully competing across rich and complex European markets makes it easier to compete abroad more effectively. Additionally, European public and private actors are working every day to accelerate European entrepreneurs:

  • Working towards better integration of the single market.
  • Putting in place policies to encourage soft mobility (London and Milan with their urban tolls; Paris, Barcelona or Copenhagen and the introduction of zero-emission zones in 2030)
  • Encouraging large-scale experiments (as in “Grand Paris”)
  • Breaking silos and develop cooperation between private and public actors / sectors

There is still a long way to go, but we all have the ingredients to make Europe the playground for future unicorns of mobility. Let’s keep going!

 

Sophie Bailly is in charge of communication and partnership for Via ID
Via ID is a business accelerator and the venture capital arm of Mobivia, the European leader in automotive services and new mobility solutions (Norauto, Midas, A.T.U…). With offices in Europe, USA and Asia, Via ID aspires to take part in the most innovative and new mobility projects globally, focused on intelligent, sustainable and everyday means of mobility. The Via ID teams support some twenty startups in France and abroad (Smoove, Drivy, Heetch, Xee, Swiftly, …). www.via-id.com