To bolster the development and deployment of safer and more sustainable smart mobility solutions, ERTICO gives particular attention to start-ups and SMEs by offering specialised and targeted opportunities to work with and benefit from ERTICO’s strong and unique network of Partners. ERTICO has been giving start-ups an important platform during the ITS Congresses and has been working with them in a number of projects.

ERTICO launched its Start-up Initiative in 2019 with the intention to provide a space for new businesses to develop and work with stakeholders in the smart mobility community. Based on a ‘Connect, Innovate, Grow’ approach, ERTICO helps match start-ups with partners and projects by giving them the chance to be involved in EU-funded projects, access leading-edge mobility solutions, improve their visibility, and position themselves in the market. ERTICO aims to involve start-ups in its various innovation and deployment activities consisting of over seventeen research, pilot and deployment projects and platforms.

Start-ups at the ITS Congress

Start-ups and SMEs that are part of ERTICO’s Start-up Initiative also have the unique opportunity to participate in the ITS Congresses and present their business case in a designated exhibition area. At the last ITS European Congress in Toulouse in May 2022, start-ups were present in 24 booths where they could promote their concepts, while enjoying exclusive networking opportunities. In addition, a pitching contest was also organised where each start-up had five minutes to present their product, technology or service, and answer questions from the judges. The nine finalist start-ups participated in the pitching contest in three different categories: Best technology, Best product/service and Best market introduction innovation. A European finalist was also selected among the contestants.

In Toulouse, UK-based start-up ANGOKA showcased its secure machine-to-machine communications system and emerged as the winner of the Top Start-Up Award and the Technology Innovation Award. The accolades express the importance of cybersecurity solutions and ANGOKA’s growth in the ITS industry, as it is working to secure the future of Smart Cities and Mobility, with safety and cybersecurity at the heart of its actions for sustainable and accessible mobility. Connected mobility and commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles, as well as the data flows that are feeding basic machine decision-making, are cornerstones of ANGOKA’s work. “ANGOKA’s team is building solutions that directly increase cyber-resilience of infrastructure and mobility systems. Collaborating with ITS companies, our solution embeds “trust” within intelligent transport systems and ensures long-term, quantum-resilient protection from cyber-threats,” says Daniela Menzky, ANGOKA Chief Operating Officer.

Start-up and SMEs innovating through ERTICO projects

ERTICO’s commitment to empower start-ups can also be found in its activities. A number of ERTICO’s projects, such as SOLUTIONSplus and 5G-LOGINNOV, collaborate with start-ups and SMEs to boost innovation in smart mobility. Others such as 5GMETA also stimulate and facilitate innovative products and services by collaborating with new players such as SMEs and high-tech start-ups through hackathons, etc.

Cooperation with start-ups and SMEs is a key activity of SOLUTIONSplus to co-develop e-mobility solutions and generate economic opportunities across the project’s partner regions and cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and Europe. In 2021 ERTICO led the establishment of the SOLUTIONSplus Start-up Incubator, together with FIER Automotive, using its experience from the ERTICO Start-up initiative. Thanks to the Incubator, start-ups can contribute to innovative business models and plans to develop integrated electro-mobility solutions. The project ensures that SMEs and start-ups are in contact with relevant stakeholders to set in place strategic partnerships, and can build their expertise and knowledge. In total, thirteen start-ups benefit from funding thanks to the SOLUTIONSplus start-up incubator and participate in nine Living Labs. In addition to funding, local hackathons and events are organised for start-ups, as well as special training sessions on dedicated topics.

Five start-ups and SMEs also joined the consortium of the 5G-LOGINNOV project, resulting from an Open Call to increase business opportunities and create new markets around 5G technologies. With the aid of a €50,000 budget, the five start-ups now have the opportunity to participate in the activities carried out at the 5G-LOGINNOV Living Labs in Athens, Koper, and Hamburg, and can therefore contribute to the development and deployment of innovative applications using 5G augmented capabilities to improve port and freight operations. The goal of this collaboration with start-ups is to encourage the market uptake of emerging and innovation 5G technologies, thereby driving technological, societal, and environmental innovations.

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash