On Thursday 22 February, European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc opened the first edition of the European Startup Prize for mobility, an initiative launched by MEP Karima Delli, chairwoman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism.
“ERTICO – ITS Europe is proud to have been a supporter of this important initiative, promoting innovation in the same areas of focus of the ten finalists and the four winners. With MaaS Global as one of the four winners, the idea of combining different transport modes from different providers in one, unique service is a concept which ERTICO has long pushed forward through the MaaS alliance and the “2018: Year of Multimodality event” “, stated Jacob Bangsgaard, CEO of ERTICO – ITS Europe.
There is not second thought on supporting startups, which help making the everyday life of citizens easier, whether it involves shipping packages, carpooling or cargo transport, and ERTICO is looking forward to the 2018 ITS World Congress in Copenhagen, where together with the City of Copenhagen, the ten finalists and winners will have a world platform to showcase their ideas and solutions.
“Being an entrepreneur and starting a start-up myself in my previous life, I was looking for a way how to bring this exciting, turbulent energy into the policy making, as well as into the ecosystem of European transport, and I am really grateful that Karima had the stamina and the energy to bring us all here now”, Commissioner Bulc said in her opening remarks.
A crowded room welcomed the big names of the European mobility industry, international organisations and representatives from the European Institutions to talk about new, innovative solutions that can be developed by European start-ups.
But why mobility?
According to Commissioner Bulc, the mobility sector currently provides 11.000 jobs in the EU, with the European Union investing 200 billion Euros in mobility, and “when investments are used right, results do appear”.
In this context, startups and innovation go hand in hand; for small and medium organisations, coming up with breakthrough ideas is the key factor for success, allowing these businesses to be competitive and stay in the marketplace. Startups are crucial job creators and have become an important driving force for the economy and innovation at all levels, and one of the areas in which innovation is particularly needed is road safety. It was an honour to have as speaker at the Startup Prize UN special envoy for road safety, Jean Todt, who stated that “startups are important for the transport of tomorrow, which is Multimodal, multisector and sustainable”. In this sense, technology combined with legislation can be used to prevent and reduce road fatalities in all Member States.
During the award ceremony, also renowned innovators and ambassadors gave inspirational speeches and focused on the current European situation when it comes to startups. Bertrand Piccard, initiator and Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation and first person to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe, and Frédéric Mazzella, founder of BlaBlaCar, shared their experiences as funders of startups and provided tips and suggestions. “We need to create a need for innovation”, said Piccard, who sees startups as a concept which embeds innovation, growth, profits and sustainability, and it is in terms of creating a need for innovation that another important political representative discussed about the need to provide fertile sole for new businesses: Mounir Majhoubi, French Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs, who himself funded a startup. “We should create the conditions for startups to stay in Europe”, he stated, raising the question of why can’t the land of opportunities be Europe. Facing everyday problems related to mobility, innovative solutions are needed. “Europe can be the new Silicon Valley. We can attract new skills, without them going to the US”, said Karima Delli, who launched this initiative.
Europe has the potential in terms of economy, land and dreams to be the home for new, innovative businesses and as “transport is reshaping and reinventing itself, it’s important how we contribute, especially in a sense of investments”, stressed Commissioner Bulc.
During the evening, the ten final startups presented their pitch to the public and the jury, which then selected the four finalists based on the following criteria:
- Sustainable impact
- Positive social impact
- Traction on new mobilities
- What does the prize represent for them? Want to help startups that really need it
- Global feeling of the startups
The winner of the first edition of the European Startup Prize for Mobility were announced at the end of every pitch:
The applicants came from 28 countries, with the majority of projects presented by France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Finland and the Netherlands. People’s mobility has been the main focus, following mobility of goods and mobility of goods and people, with key themes such as Multimodality, parking service, green mobility, MaaS (Mobility as a Service), connected mobility, sharing, accessibility and new energy and urban mobility. Click here for a detailed info graphic.
With the end of the first edition of the European Startup Prize, the startup world is left with the necessary tools to pursue their dreams and achieve the mobility goals that can help build a brighter and even more efficient future for European transport.
So stay tuned for Copenhagen, Europe is your playground!