In the city of Hamburg just over a week ago, delegates, speakers, and visitors from 66 different countries totaling 13,200 participants came together face-to-face for the 27th ITS World Congress. The Congress delivered a successful week full of activities, networking, as well as a Startup Village, supported by ERTICO’s Startup Initiative and the philosophy Connect, Innovate and Grow, that surpassed all expectations.

The Congress opened its doors to 43 startups from 18 countries at !TS Future Startup Area. These innovators were selected out of more than 100 startups that applied to take part in the !TS Future activities and successfully demonstrated the fast-paced nature of innovation in the startup world and the most agile methodologies they employ to deliver to their customers. These were certainly some of the lessons that the members of the established ITS Community were able to take home with them.

The week for !TS Future was packed with debates, networking, pitch sessions, and one-on-ones that completely matched ERTICO’s envisioned path for startups: Connect, Innovate, and Grow. Tuesday was devoted to connecting startups that are still in a very early phase, there to bring their refreshingly new ideas to the ITS Community. The first pitch session took place with twelve startups and IoT Baseplate was the winner of the round. The day continued with Startup Speed-dating to allow these newcomers in the industry to network and connect.

Wednesday was the day to innovate and it started with an open-mic debate organised by ERTICO on how European Commission funded projects could act as incubators and how startups could further innovate their products and services under the roof of these projects in live EU environments. The day continued with two batches of pitch sessions with eleven and ten startups respectively. Recyclehero and ANGOKA were the winners of these rounds.

Thursday, the last day of !TS Future activities, came about before we could blink and we started the day with the last batch of pitch sessions where the startups that are in a later phase presented their ideas to investors and local authorities in search of a business growth opportunity. Brighter AI, the winner of the 2019 ERTICO Startup Competition, became the fourth finalist out of ten startups for the grand finale. As Thursday was the day to grow, we had a panel discussion on how to progress to be a scaleup.

The successful collaboration between ERTICO, the City of Hamburg, Digital Logistics Hub Hamburg, and Digital Hub Mobility under !TS Future resulted in the largest ITS World Startup Event with the largest ITS World Startup Village presence ever. The final event of the programme began on Thursday afternoon where the four finalists from all the pitch sessions competed against each other and recyclehero won the !TS Future Award along with one of the three ERTICO Innovation Awards given by the ERTICO CEO, Jacob Bangsgaard. While recyclehero received the ERTICO Market Innovation Award, ANGOKA was the winner of the Technology Innovation Award and IoT Baseplate won the Product Innovation Award. They each received a half-day, deep-dive assessment of their company in the context of ERTICO Partnership and participation in EU funded projects as well as a free ticket to the ITS European Congress in Toulouse taking place 30 May – 1 June 2022.

Joining the Start-up Initiative opens doors for work opportunities with the network of ERTICO Partners and Europe’s forthcoming thought leaders in smart mobility. ERTICO takes potential innovators in the sector on a journey of connecting, innovating, and growing by offering networking with potential investors, mentoring and possibilities to participate in EU funded projects as well as the tools and support necessary in preparation for the exciting journey of a startup.