On December 13th 2018, the French Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition opened its doors for the launch of the second season of the European Startup Prize for Mobility. Before this edition takes us from Frankfurt to Barcelona, from Brainport to Paris and Brussels (where the 2019 winners will be announced on April 11th), here are the highlights of that evening.
credit : Guillaume Murat
“We all share the conviction that innovation has an essential role to play to rise to our common challenge: building a mobility for all, that restores our territorial cohesion.” In her opening statement, French Minister for Transportation Élisabeth Borne addresses the specific challenges of the “mobility-for-all”, in that it needs to answer both “purchasing power preoccupations” and “environmental and climatic stakes.” She strongly believes that “our transitions will have to rely on technological innovations.” That is precisely why the Ministry has chosen to support the second edition of the European Startup Prize (EUSP) for Mobility: the goal is not only to innovate, but to do so by bringing together public and private actors, large corporations and startups alike.
crédit photo : Guillaume Murat
Karima Delli, the President of EUSP for Mobility and Chairwoman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament, insists on what makes the competition unique: “Creating this prize was a bet. Who would have imagined a private-public partnership, especially with European institutions?” The bet payed off: last year, 500 applications flocked from 28 countries. In 2019, the prize wants to “go further and stronger”, to keep highlighting the “28 Silicon Valleys” that are building the mobility of tomorrow — a mobility that is “inclusive, safe, connected.” For Karima Delli, the EUSP for Mobility contributes to nothing less than creating a new world, “a world of innovation and clean, useful, modern and accessible technologies, a new world in which we respect the environment.”
Political leadership and expert support
The ten finalists of the 2018 edition are proof enough. Take Sampo Hietanen, founder and CEO of MaaS Global, the company behind the all-transport-in-one app Whim in Finland, the UK and Belgium: “Transport is always political. [For MaaS, mobility as a service], the demand is here and the physical elements are here too. That means we just need to have a digital access to them. And that takes political leadership, which is what Karima Delli is doing.” Winning the prize has allowed the company to make its voice heard: “It’s like a stamp of approval that gives you more credibility.” As well as access to European tech events that would otherwise have been inaccessible. Klaxit, a carpooling platform for work-home commutes, has also seen its visibility increase significantly. Enis Mansour, who is in charge of Klaxit’s strategy, enthusiastically notes that “this is the first step to create the European Silicon Valley” — although some prefer to use the plural, because Europe doesn’t centralise innovation like California does. Éliette Vincent, co-founder of “carpooling for parcels” platform Cocolis, particularly benefited from the legal and strategy support offered by the prize’s partners. She thanks “the ever-present teams who answered our issues.”
The EUSP laureates do get support from the Boston Consulting Group, assisted by law firms Parallel Avocats and Grimaldi Studio Legale as well as Via-ID, an accelerator for mobility startups. “It is similar to what we do for our clients: we test the business model, we make recommendations for sustainable growth and we introduce them to our network of clients,” explains Lorraine Forestier, General Manager of the Mobility Nation consortium founded by the BCG. The consulting firm is also on the jury of the prize, and puts the winners in touch with partnering companies: “We have a good vision of the trends and challenges and of the complementarity between these innovators and large corporations.”
“A wonderful tool for innovation monitoring”
So what do corporations look for? Setec Ferroviaire is a new partner of EUSP for Mobility. Fabrice Drouin, its General Director, explains: “We really enjoyed the dynamism of the team, the European dimension of the prize and the possibility to meet partners from all sectors, from the biggest European actors to startups, and to see what are the most promising ideas for the future of railway transportation.” Hélène Mauguéret, Head of Development at Setec, agrees: “It is a unique opportunity to have 500 to 800 mobility startups close at hand. It is a wonderful tool for innovation monitoring.”
crédit photo : Guillaume Murat
To be a part of this database, startups just need to apply on the EUSP for Mobility’s website. Startups from all sizes and at any development stage are welcome, as long as they innovate for sustainable mobility, says Ben Costantini, co-founder and CEO of Startup Sesame, the largest alliance of Tech events in Europe. And to be among the winners? Pierre-Louis Martinie, Head of Sales of rating agency for startups Early Metrics, gives us a few clues. Early Metrics will help the prize’s team in the selection process: ahead of the competition, to define the criteria they will be looking for, and all the way to the selection the the 50 first startups. It looks at “extra-financial criteria: the project and its team, its development and the market. It overlaps with the six criteria that the prize’s team chose,” he highlights: the team, the market, the positive social and environmental impact, the innovation, the execution and the European dimension.
crédit photo : Guillaume Murat
That last point is important. “European startups need to believe that their playground is Europe and not just their country,” concludes Jean-François Dhinaux, Head of Strategy of Via-ID at the end of the night. Violeta Bulc, the European Commissioner for Transport, supports the statement: “An idea by itself is not enough, you need the right framework to support you. This is where the EU comes in.” For the EUSP for Mobility, the watchword is definitely “Think European”. Submissions are open until January 21st, 2019!
On Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th September, the European Startups Prize for Mobility (EUSP) winners were in Berlin for the second stop of their European tour to attend IFA Next, one of the major European digital events.
During these two days, EUSP startups had the opportunity to present their projects and to become familiar with the German ecosystem, including local decision-makers and investors. First, startups have pitched at IFA Next and we are very proud of Atsukè who won the « Best Pitch Award » of the show that day. A great recognition for their work for a sustainable and digital mobility. #EUSP startups are making their way into European tech!
The day after, our finalists met a high-level panel at our workshop like Dirk 0. Evenson, Director of New Mobility World, Tanja Kufner, Partner at MHP – A Porsche Company or Urs Rahne, Partner at BCG Digital Ventures.
Conclusion of this successful morning : Venture capital investments in Germany increased substantially in the last 5 years. Especially in mobility: infrastructure, e-commerce, sharing, collective transportation, hardware and software. And new funds recently hired mobility experts ! A very good timing for mobility ! After a beautiful stage in Berlin, a new one is coming up already : we will be in Copenhagen on September 18 & 19 for ITS World Congress. Stay tuned!
After a successful launch in several American cities, scooters are now invading the streets of Europe. They are rapidly becoming part of the urban landscape, and the developers of scooter-sharing solutions want to believe they will, eventually, replace the bike.
It all started just a few months ago, when two competing bike-sharing companies (who were each barely a year old) launched their free-loading solution for electric scooters. LimeBike first deployed its lime-coloured e-scooters in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Washington D.C. — and, as of June 22nd, in Paris, the first of many in Europe. “Paris is our first big-scale deployment in Europe, we have big ambitions in Europe,” Lime France director Arthur-Louis Jacquier told Reuter. In fact, the company plans to launch in no less than 26 European cities by the end of 2018. Its main opponent is Bird, another bike-sharing start-up that recently added e-scooters to the mix: it launched in the exact same cities as Lime, plus Austin, and plans to expand to 50 U.S. markets by the end of 2018. As reports TechCrunch, according to a recent job posting, Bird also has its eyes on the European market.
Now, everybody wants in on the opportunity: Spin, another bike-sharing company, has recently expanded to e-scooters, and newcomer Skip is already roaming the streets of Washington D.C.. In France, Strasbourg-based start-up Knot is developing both docked and free-floating solutions for scooters with no electric assistance: in the summer of 2017, they started testing their services in a few cities neighbouring Paris, and are working to soon launch in Germany and the United States. So far, 2018 is proving that, once the epitome of uncool, scooters are now generating unprecedented enthusiasm.
The ultimate solution for the last-mile problem
So why all the frenzy? On paper, scooters look like the easiest of solutions for clean mobility. When they’re electric, they make it easier for everyone to choose a softer means of transportation: it is a breeze to go uphill and the e-scooter gets you anywhere, fast. “They’re a really great option if you are trying to flexibly and quickly get somewhere that’s five or six blocks away,” explains to Condé Nast Traveler Caen Contee, head of marketing at LimeBike. “We see ourselves taking on the last-mile problem.” For Travis VanderZanden, former Uber and Lyft executive and founder of Bird, the goal is in fact not to replace bikes, but cars: “Our long-term goal is to get people out of cars, reduce traffic, and cut carbon emissions. We hope to replace as many as possible of the 40 percent of car trips in the U.S. that are less than two miles,” he says in the same article. On the other hand, manual scooters have the advantage of being allowed to ride on the sidewalk, as explains Knot co-founder Polina Mikhaylova to Business Insider France, which is a winning point for people who would be afraid to ride a bike or an electric scooter among traffic. Scooters are light and they don’t take much parking space (a problem residents are frequently complaining about with free-loading bikes) ; they don’t require specific infrastructures and are arguably easier to maintain than bikes.
Move over, bike-sharing
As a matter of fact, scooters look like they could be a credible alternative to bike-sharing solutions, which are increasingly failing and have trouble reinventing themselves. A dozen years ago, the bike stations that flourished everywhere in Europe were a revolution that durably contributed to making bicycles part of urban mobility again. Today, the Vélib in Paris has proven to be a complete disaster, due mostly to vandalism and the impossible maintenance costs of keeping the float in shape. Free-floating bike solutions were no more successful: in early 2018, Hong-Kong based start-up Gobee Bike announced it was leaving the European market after only a few months of activity. At times, up to 90% of its float in Lille, France, needed repairing, and the company also had to face an unexpected number of thefts and unauthorised privatisations. Some, like Les Échos, also highlighted the fact that no docks means it takes much more time to identify and retrieve the broken bikes. Scooter providers apparently believe they will not have these sorts of problems, or at least that they will be more manageable. In Paris, Lime says it retrieves all of its scooters every night between 9pm and 6am to recharge and repair them if needed.
Who gets to shape the future of urban mobility?
But so far, it hasn’t been smooth sailing either: in the United States, residents are starting to rebel. “The scooters are a hazard zipping past pedestrians. They’re always blocking sidewalks and ramps, getting vandalized and thrown in the park (and the canal, and the creek)”, writes Wamu, the American University magazine, which is based in D.C.. San Francisco’s lawyer, Dennis Herrera, sent a “cease and desist” letter to Spin in April 2018 after receiving many complaints about the e-scooters. The city of Santa Monica sued Bird after a series of accidents, including a couple that resulted in a severe head injury and a broken arm, respectively.
However, the main concern posed by the boom of scooter-sharing services may be elsewhere. After testing the Lime scooter, Télérama underlines that having to use bike lanes “might reduce even more the very little space dedicated to bikes in the capital”, and gets the feeling that the start-up “innovates for an enthusiastic minority” and “often forgets the silent majority.” As writes the Dallas Magazine, “some anxiety over unregulated tech startups having such a deciding role in the future of transportation is justified.” It mentions a few studies that suggest that Uber and Lyft, instead of ushering a transport revolution, have made city traffic worse, since people tend to choose ridesharing over walking, cycling, or public transit. “The public, not LimeBike, should dictate transportation policy,” it concludes. Not LimeBike, nor any other private initiative. Time will tell if European cities take on the task of developing efficient and sustainable scooter-sharing services — hopefully with more success than the bike.
On Thursday 24 and Friday 25 May, the European Startups Prize for Mobility (EUSP) winners will travel to the Estonian capital for the first stop of their European tour. The second stop will take place at the beginning of September in Berlin.
This event follows the ceremony that awarded the 10 most promising European mobility startups on 22 February in Brussels.
This first stop of the tour will take place at Latitude59, which is one of the major European digital events. During two days, EUSP startups will have the opportunity to present their projects and become familiar with the Baltic ecosystem, including local decision-makers and investors, through roundtables or pitches. We will be honoured by the presence of Kadri Simson, Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure.
Created at the initiative of Karima Delli, Member of the European Parliament, Ecologist and President of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament, the EUSP is dedicated to European startups focused on green and connected mobility. The prize was launched in December 2017 under the high patronage of the European Commission, the European Parliament and several economic stakeholders (Blablacar, BCG and Via ID). It received more than 500 applications.
The goal is simple: create the European silicon valley of mobility.
On February 22, a jury of experts announced the four winners of the prize. The winners of this first edition, Cargonexx, Cocolis, Klaxit and MaaS Global will benefit from tailor-made support designed by The Boston Consulting Group, Via ID, Parallel Lawyers and Grimaldi Studio, to accelerate their development. For the finalists, the adventure continues with the European tour UESP which will take them to several major European capitals and give them high visibility at major Tech events in Europe (Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen & Tallin). The jury also rewarded three very promising mobility start up, Drivy, Stuart and Txfy, with a special mention from the jury, as well as Switzerland’s BestMile.
Find the complete program of the European Startups Prize’s activities in Tallinn.
Press contact :
Cyrielle Disseldorf : +33 6 72 81 82 59
Maggy Gerbeaux : +33 674 30 30 31