Since its start in 2020, SOLUTIONSplus has been committed to supporting start-ups around the world to develop their innovative e-mobility solutions. As the project aims to create a long-lasting transition to sustainable urban mobility through the electrification of road transport, focusing specifically on the development of smaller electric vehicles, knowledge sharing and capacity building activities have been instrumental in reaching the project’s objectives. Through its collaboration with start-ups and SMEs, an effort led by ERTICO, the project has empowered these innovators to further develop their e-mobility products and services.

The SOLUTIONSplus Start-Up Incubator was set up by ERTICO, in close collaboration with FIER, to support local start-ups and offer them the opportunity to co-develop new e-mobility solutions with SMEs and industry partners, generating economic opportunities in the project’s demonstration sites in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Through its Incubator, the project has helped 13 start-ups develop their business, find relevant stakeholders within the project’s broad network to forge strategic partnerships, create new business opportunities, and build up their expertise by providing funding, dedicated training, and networking opportunities. ERTICO has been extensively involved in the start-up activities within SOLUTIONSplus, helping build successful partnerships to foster innovations in sustainable mobility.

Learning to build a successful business

Building on the specific business development needs of the start-ups that are part of the project, a tailored training programme on Innovation Management was developed by ERTICO with the support of the SOLUTIONSplus partners and regional coordinators. The training provides concrete guidance and knowledge on all aspects related to business development, including creating a product or service, launching it successfully to customers, finding the right funding opportunities, conducting a market analysis, and managing intellectual property rights, among other topics. To enable external start-ups, SMEs, and entrepreneurs in their journey to success, this comprehensive training programme, which was first made available to the project start-ups, is available free of charge to the wider public on the Mobility Academy platform.

As a follow-up to this learning programme, ERTICO set up individual one-hour coaching sessions with some of the SOLUTIONSplus start-ups that completed the training, including Plural, Clean Energy International, Green Star, Sidertech, SESCOM, and FASTA, a start-up involved in the replication activities of the project. These coaching sessions aimed to dive deeper into the specific business model canvas and business plans of each start-up to provide tailored feedback and recommendations. Each start-up also received the conclusions in written format together with additional expert advice from the SOLUTIONSplus partners, equipping them with concrete tools and specific guidance to ensure they are on the right track to success beyond the completion of the project. The recommendations developed for FASTA were further used as a stepping stone for discussions on electric bicycle adoption in Tanzania during a participatory workshop held in Dar es Salaam on 15 March.

Bringing innovative ideas to local audiences

In addition to training opportunities, regional events have been organised to allow the SOLUTIONSplus start-ups to showcase their innovations, learn from local stakeholders, and increase the visibility of their products or services. More recently, ERTICO supported the organisation of an event in Latin America and gave the project start-ups the opportunity to take an active role in it. The forum was co-organised by SOLUTIONSplus and took place in Bogota, Colombia, from 18 to 21 March. It offered compelling insights into e-mobility in the region and the Caribbean and saw the participation of a wide range of stakeholders, including municipalities, governments, transport ministries, local start-ups and SMEs, electric vehicle manufacturers, logistics operators, service providers, and numerous project partners.

The event covered a wide range of exciting topics ranging from e-mobility initiatives in Bogota and Latin America, the electrification of public transport in large urban areas, and perspectives on decarbonising urban logistics to inclusivity and gender equity aspects in electromobility and replication projects in Latin America focusing on light electric vehicles. By taking part in this insightful four-day event, the project start-ups had the opportunity to directly learn from the innovative business models of invited start-ups and businesses and gain knowledge on the value proposition for their own businesses. The event also represented the chance to meet and start partnerships with representatives from local public authorities and take their innovations further.

In the coming months, the SOLUTIONSplus start-ups based in Asia will get the chance to attend the Future Mobility Asia Exhibition and Summit, which will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 15 to 17 May, with the active support of ERTICO. The start-ups will have the opportunity to take part in a unique panel session to promote their innovations to local stakeholders and an international audience of clean mobility experts.

Lidia Buenavida Peña, Project Manager at ERTICO and ERTICO lead for the start-up activities in SOLUTIONSplus comments: “We are proud to lead, with the support of the project partners, the start-up activities within SOLUTIONSplus, fostering innovation and driving clean mobility forward. By empowering the start-ups of the project and providing these innovators with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed, we advance together towards sustainable e-mobility solutions around the world.”

You can discover more about the start-ups involved in SOLUTIONSplus and their achievements here.

The SOLUTIONSplus project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 875041.