Delivering the goods: How start-up Smart Point is greening last mile delivery in Madrid
Smart Point has been working with EIT Urban Mobility’s #ChallengeMyCity programme to test and implement a green last mile delivery solution in Madrid, with impressive results on all sides: a 36% reduction in delivery emissions for the city, as well as follow-up funding and a €40 million valuation for the start-up.
Spotlight on last mile delivery
It’s no surprise that over the past few years global attention has shifted towards the development of last mile delivery solutions. The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated the already booming e-commerce sector, from food to gaming, seeing a remarkable growth rate of 25% in 2020. Despite an easing of lockdown restrictions, e-commerce has continued its upward growth trajectory at a rate not seen pre-pandemic, with the significant funding that continues to flow into logistics start-ups crowning last mile delivery as the highest-funded sub-sector.
Sitting at the intersection of multiple stakeholder interests, the last mile delivery sector offers a promising opportunity to resolve a plethora of challenges. With public administrations worldwide having made a global commitment to reduce traffic pollution in cities, companies eager to capitalise on the rising demand for on-demand e-commerce and citizens demanding more convenient delivery experiences, the potential for innovation and connection across this sector is vast.
That said, with great opportunity comes great complexity. Implementing last mile delivery solutions in cities that cater to the nuanced priorities of all players is not an easy task. This is where programmes like #ChallengeMyCity come in, playing a crucial role in finding practical solutions.
#ChallengeMyCity: A sandbox for urban mobility innovation
The #ChallengeMyCity programme was launched by EIT Urban Mobility in 2022 to allow European cities to test out solutions for their real-life urban mobility challenges with the help of innovative European start-ups. Consisting of four phases, the programme first defines the challenges to resolve for the cities, matches them with disruptive start-ups that have a potential solution and then provides up to €180 000 to implement an ‘on–the-ground’ pilot. After gathering data and citizen feedback, the city can assess the viability of integrating the solution long-term, all in a succinct and streamlined process.
The 2022 edition of #ChallengeMyCity saw seven start-ups implement nine innovative mobility solutions across the cities of Milan, Toulouse and Madrid, each testing concepts in real-life environments and allowing city administrations to ‘test before they invest’. In Milan and Toulouse, three different start-ups installed secure bike shelters and solar-powered docking stations for e-bikes and e-scooters at key train stations, so that commuters could try out combining different forms of transport in one trip. In Madrid, five pilots were tested on the topics of intermodality, sustainable city logistics and active mobility flows monitoring.
In addition to the successes of the pilot tests in these three cities, participating start-up Don Cicleto recently won a tender by ADIF (the Spanish national railway infrastructure manager) to install their secure bike shelters in 42 train stations all over Spain. Along the same thread, start-up Vadecity was awarded a project by the EMT (city transport operator in Madrid) to scale up its secure bike parking network with 7 new locations. These two examples alone show #ChallengeMyCity’s potential when it comes to identifying and supporting promising mobility start-ups on their way to success.
Smart Point: Greening Madrid one locker at a time
Taking on Madrid’s challenge to minimise the environmental impact of on-demand delivery across the city, the Spanish start-up Smart Point stepped up through #ChallengeMyCity with its universal parcel delivery locker technology, offering seamless solutions for all players involved.
Smart Point’s lockers, which are never further than a few minutes away, offer customers secure pickup points for any kind of package, eliminating vague and inaccurate delivery windows. Customers are notified that their item has been deposited at their local locker by SMS or email and can collect it using a code that is unique to them. For couriers, Smart Point’s offering of a 100% electric fleet and single drop-off point allows drivers to consolidate multiple deliveries into one drop-off, lowering emissions and pollution, reducing costs and saving time. In addition to delivery services, Smart Point’s lockers allow users in semi-private locations to order a variety of services and products, such as dry cleaning or a massage, via a touch screen, revolutionising the way that people interact with their local communities.
As part of the #ChallengeMyCity programme, Smart Point was awarded €60 000 to implement four smart lockers in buildings in Madrid, collecting feedback from users along the way to identify best practices, challenges and potential new products.
The results of the pilot have been impressive to say the least. Smart Point reported a 36% reduction in emissions from deliveries made through their lockers, a 16% increase in sustainable deliveries made by cargobike/electric vehicle and an estimated increase in revenue for local businesses of 2-5%. The start-up also launched two new offerings: a breakfast and coffee capsule delivery in partnership with giant Nestlé, as well desert delivery with bakery Manolo Bakes.
Smart Point’s CEO Tom Selva has praised the EIT Urban Mobility’s programme for allowing start-ups to quickly and efficiently test out their technology solutions in real life, make changes to improve their services and scale up faster: “You have the type of users that are theoretically based, and then you have the type of users that actually use your solution in a real case scenario; they are hugely different and bridging that gap is something that you can only really do with EIT Urban Mobility’s #ChallengeMyCity in a very short space of time”.
Following the success of Smart Point’s pilot in Madrid, a number of follow-on opportunities have presented themselves. Firstly, Madrid City Council decided to expand the start-up’s lockers to six additional public locations in the city centre, which marks a significant milestone for not only the start-up, but also the city, as it represents the first time that citizens of Madrid have the opportunity to have their packages delivered 100% through electric vehicles, regardless of the e-commerce retailer. Secondly, the start-up received investment from Impact Ventures, officially becoming part of EIT Urban Mobility’s start-up portfolio and recently being valued at €40 million. As Smart Point continues to expand and innovate, it is clear that the start-up is taking on an important role in shaping the future of urban mobility in Europe and that EIT Urban Mobility has played an integral part in their story.
Smart Point’s CEO Tom Selva
Challenges for 2023
Given the success of the first edition of #ChallengeMyCity in 2022, more European cities are joining the programme for 2023, namely Braga (Portugal) and Larissa and Heraklion (Greece). There were 11 challenges set for European start-ups to solve, bringing opportunities to test out their solution, make real-life partnerships and potentially scale up across Europe.
The applications closed few weeks ago. Stay tuned to discover the winners very soon!