Impact assessment of 23 European startups participating in the EIT Urban Mobility Accelerator programme SPECIAL: COVID-19

To address the challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, EIT Urban Mobility has launched the “EIT Urban Mobility Accelerator programme SPECIAL: COVID19” to support startups developing mobility solutions for problems related to the virus.

To maximise the positive impact of this programme on a societal level, an intense impact assessment workshop with renowned experts from the fields of mobility, health and impact investing was conducted for the participating startups.

The specifically designed COVID-19 impact assessment took place virtually on 16 October and was led by Dr. Ursula Mühle, who is currently helping the Bavarian authorities to manage the effects of the pandemic. She has more than 15 years of experience in business development and programme building in three areas: health, technology, and education from scratch to roll-out through international partnership and collaborations.

The goal of this impact assessment was to enable the startup teams to “…achieve superior performance through attention to environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and good governance.” (ESG). To this end, the startups were supported at specifying, quantifying and tracking their impact – and increasing the overall impact achieved in the process.

Impact assessment panels with external experts

After receiving input from Dr. Ursula Mühle and working on specifying and quantifying their impact themselves, an external panel of renowned experts assessed the impact of each startup. Seven experts from the areas of mobility, health and impact investing, constituted the panel and conducted the impact assessment:

  • Young-Jin Choi, Head of Impact Investing @ PHINEO gAG – a think tank which conducts activities e.g. regarding systemic impact and climate impact investing
  • Christine Jacobs, Expert for digital strategies in advancing healthcare as founder of Digi-Bridges, health tech researcher and lecturer in Cambridge (ARU) & Switzerland (FHNW)
  • Klaus Huber, Serial entrepreneur & E-Mobility-expert and founder of eeMobility, a startup providing charging solutions for commercial electric vehicle fleets
  • Dr. Med. Habil. Dominik Pförringer, Trauma & orthopaedic surgeon, digital healthcare expert and private equity and venture capital advisor
  • Kerry Ritz, Entrepreneur, investment advisor and non-executive director with health and tech focus
  • Dennis Schwedhelm, Senior expert and project leader at McKinsey Center for Future Mobility
  • Daria Tataj, PhD: Investment expert at the European Innovation Council, founder & CEO at Tataj Innovation and World Economic Forum Digital Leader.

During this impact assessment, startups pitched their businesses with a focus on the impact it creates. The experts critically challenged their underlying assumptions and provided exhaustive feedback on how the teams could increase their impact or improve the way they communicate about it, specifically for different target groups.

Examples of impact the startups create

We want to highlight the impact of three startups in this programme:

AxilionSmartMobility: Axilion harnesses the power of AI and Digital Twin technology to tackle mobility-related challenges. Axilion’s X Way suite of SaaS Cloud Services, available through Microsoft Azure, generates real-time traffic insights and optimised traffic plans, enhancing urban livelihood.

With COVID-19 forcing transportation patterns to change, Axilion’s solutions enable cities to adapt their transport networks in real-time, based on changing needs. Through Axilion’s technology, cities can strike a better balance between traffic, transit, and pedestrians, reach their carbon emission goals, and create safer streets.

Hawadawa: Awarded “Digital Startup of the Year 2020” by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, the team’s solution is aimed at helping existing and now newly vulnerable respiratory groups during and post COVID-19. They help patients, healthcare providers and insurers understand the specific health risks posed by localised air pollution and provide granular guidance to help manage and reduce individual exposure levels. Their life and forecast data are based on a combination of IoT, AI & data science, and satellite technology.

Currently, the team is able to quantify its impact through the number of citizens and cities covered with granular, live air quality data, as well as the potential CO2 and NOx savings made from making eco-conscious routing decisions based on Hawa Dawa’s forecast data. By providing access to space- and time- granular data on pollution episodes, Hawa Dawa also aims to have a significant positive impact on the quality of life of respiratory disease patients, their risk profile and the cost burden of air pollution on healthcare systems.

Hawa Dawa hopes to measure this impact of its granular air quality data in the future (e.g. by the number of risk alerts that patients receive and the number of subsequently avoided disease episodes. Furthermore, they would like to assess improved health outcomes for the target group, for example, in terms of reduced hospitalisations linked to air pollution.

MOTIONTAG: This startup fuels innovation in the mobility sector and assists governments in understanding mobility impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing insights into traveling behaviours in Germany and Switzerland. Currently, some of their projects include: helping the German Ministry of Education and Research to understand changing mobility patterns, enabling Swiss Rail to offer incentives for off-peak traveling and allowing the Berlin Transport Operator to plan its operations with real-time data.

With Deutsche Bahn, in Germany and Swisscom, in Switzerland, MOTIONTAG provides reward systems to incentivise green mobility. So far, a positive impact is clearly visible with users of MOTIONTAG having changed their mobility behaviours: -24% car usage, +461% walking, +93% biking, +24% public transport.

The EIT Urban Mobility Accelerator programme SPECIAL: COVID-19 is co-run by four European acceleration partners: Futurebox (DK), PoliHub (IT), Technion DRIVE Accelerator (ISR), and UnternehmerTUM (DE). It will culminate with the final presentation at UnternehmerTUM’s ultimate demo day on 30 November.

Register for this virtual event and see the 23 startups from this accelerator programme and many others pitch!