Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) for Impact Ventures Open Call

The EIT Urban Mobility Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) is an acceleration programme designed for European companies in the field of urban mobility currently fundraising or planning to fundraise throughout 2024 or 2025.

With access to a wide network of business angels, venture capital, corporate, institutional investors and European funding organizations, the programme aims to:

  • Enhance the fundraising capabilities of these companies by providing them with resources, training, and coaching over a period of six months.
  • Facilitates networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs, mentors, corporates, and investors, fostering partnerships and creating new market opportunities.

Call Main Features 


Info sessions and contact details 

Call for Applications Main Features
Key dates of the call calendarCall opening: 19 April 2024
Opening of EIT UM submission platform: first week of May 2024
Call closure: 19 June 2024 at 17:00 CET
Eligibility and admissibility check: June 2024
Evaluation of proposals: July 2024
Communication of results: July/August 2024
Total EIT Funding allocated to this call The total EIT funding allocated to this call is €688,000.00.
Link to the submission portal The EIT UM submission platform will be available starting from the first
week of May and will be remain open until the 19th of June at 17:00 CET
List of documents to be submittedApplication form available on the EIT UM submission platform
Proofs, such as contracts, service agreements and similar
documentation of having successfully supported companies that have
secured EU funding instruments
List of documents to take into consideration•        Call Manual
•        EIT Urban Mobility Strategic Agenda 2021-2027
•        Guidelines for Applicants (available starting from the first week of
May)
•        Eligibility of expenditure
•        Appeal procedure
•        Project Implementation Handbook
•        Financial Support Agreement (FSA) template
•        Horizon Europe Grant Agreement
Short summary of the topics to be addressed The Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) is designed to prepare entrepreneurs to receive funding from early-stage investors and other
sources of capital. It targets ambitious entrepreneurs as they contribute to solving pressing social and environmental challenges across Europe.
Evaluation criteriaFor the strategic fit evaluation:
•        contribution to EIT Urban Mobility Strategic Objectives,
•        alignment with the specific call requirements,
•       financial sustainability and contribution to EIT Urban Mobility’s vision.
For the full proposal evaluation:
•       excellence: novelty and innovation,
•       quality and efficiency of the implementation, including sound financial management,
•       impact: social, economic, financial and general sustainability.
For the final Selection Committee evaluation:
•       business intelligence,
•       EU dimension,
•       portfolio fit.

Recorded webinars and contact details will be available to guarantee the maximum support to the applicants during the proposal’s preparation process. 

To help applicants with the preparation and submission of their proposals, EIT Urban Mobility will host one live Call Info Day. It will be focused on the call content, the challenges as well as on the submission and evaluation procedures and the financial aspects. Please find the calendar and the link to register in the table below: 

Type of event Topic covered Date and time (CET) Access to platform 
Webinar  Call Info Day: 
Call calendar, evaluation, scope, and challenges of the call, KPIs, EU registration numbers (PIC number), evaluation process, contribution to EIT Urban Mobility financial sustainability, end client role, tips to applicants  
To be announced soonThe recording of the webinar will be available afterwards here

Register here for the upcoming info webinar or watch the recording of the information webinar. For more information about our startup portfolio, visit the dedicated website.

In parallel to the call information sessions, all applicants may contact EIT Urban Mobility to resolve any concerns or doubts on the general/technical procedures and call content. These are the key contact details of the EIT Urban Mobility team for questions related to this call: 

Type of contact Email 
Legal, Financial, Administrative and general procedures pmo@eiturbanmobility.eu  
Impact Ventures area investments@eiturbanmobility.eu
E-cafe bike team

E-Cafe Bike wins Czech Creative Business Cup 2024 

E-Cafe Bike has progressed to the world finals of the Creative Business Cup in Copenhagen having won the Czech national competition in Prague. This is a great achievement for the Czech startup who were selected by an expert panel out of a total of ten startups in the finals of a competition organised by the national business development agency of Czech Republic – Czechinvest. 

E-Cafe Bike focuses on the development of electric bikes and speed pedelecs which enable users travel up to 50km/h, a maximum range of 250km from one charge which takes on average 4 hours. This speed and range enable users to navigate cities of all kinds with ease regardless of the existing infrastructures and can transform transport habits by providing such a solution. The bikes can be equipped with a trailer for added storage which when in use is twice the storage capacity of a passenger car. 

On winning the competition, Co-founder and CMO of E-Cafe Bike, Zuzana Malinová looks ahead: “We are very happy with the victory and we are already looking forward to the final round where world competition awaits us. We believe that startups show the direction the world will go in the future. Winning the national round of the competition will not only help us increase our prestige, but we will also get the opportunity to show honest Czech production abroad.” 

EIT Urban Mobility and E-Cafe Bike have been working together since 2023, when E-Cafe Bike first applied for and were successful in their application for the Investment Readiness Programme. This programme is designed for European companies specialising in urban mobility who are fundraising or seeking to raise funds. The programme lasts six months and provides companies with the resources, training and coaching needed to enhance a company’s fundraising capabilities. This programme is worked in exchange of a 1% share of participating companies. 

Having worked with and seen E-Cafe Bike grow, Jan Hauser, Investment and Portfolio Manager at EIT Urban Mobility said: “It is always with great excitement to see participants of our programmes gain recognition on such a stage. E-Cafe Bike have focused the development of their product in a bid to provide people with a viable eco-friendly option and it shows. Their bikes have addressed issues of range which are seen across their industry and together with an award-winning design have provided an incredibly convincing transport alternative.” 

If you would like to avail of funding, we have a variety of programmes to suit your needs. Explore your options here

EIT Urban Mobility RIS Winter Schools wrap-up: Driving change for sustainable cities

Over the past few weeks, the inaugural RIS Winter Schools Series, co-founded and supported by EIT Urban Mobility, saw a gathering of almost 120 bachelor students from various RIS countries in three European cities to delve into the realms of sustainable urban mobility. During one week, participants were involved in different workshops and lectures to enhance their knowledge and skills on innovation and entrepreneurship to develop innovative solutions to different real-life challenges faced by cities. 

Here’s a peek into the highlights and achievements of each Winter School: 

Innov4mobility Winter School

Aveiro, Portugal.
Organising partners: BGI, S.A and Technical University of Berlin.

At the University of Aveiro, students dived into challenges such as micromobility and pollution reduction, culminating in the winning project “ReNEW a BOAT”, which aims to convert combustion boats to electric ones. Maria Bike, Pedalar sem Idade, and CER FF showcased their prototypes. Additionally, the EcoVoltas initiative by Ecomood Portugal provided students with hands-on experiences, allowing them to test drive electric karts and witness first-hand the potential of eco-friendly transportation solutions. 
 

WINSCOOL Winter School

Tartu, Estonia.
Organising partners: Kimitisik B.V and University of Tartu.

Against the picturesque backdrop of Tartu, participants engaged in a collaborative endeavour to tackle the city’s pressing urban mobility challenges. Visits to local institutions like the AHA Center enriched their understanding of Tartu’s unique mobility landscape. The teams grappled with issues ranging from traffic congestion to winter walkability, culminating in presenting innovative solutions. The standout proposal from team “StreetHeat”, incorporating an array of heating systems to enhance road safety during winter, garnered praise from both peers and mentors. 

EXCEL Winter School

Gozo, Malta.
Organising partners: Cleantech Bulgaria, MCAST and Project Aegle Foundation.

Nestled in the idyllic settings of Malta & Gozo, participants delved into the complexities of transitioning towards sustainable transportation solutions. Challenges centred around modal shifts and renewable energy integration for ferries prompted teams to think outside the box. The winning team “Sustainable Innovators”, captivated the audience with their vision of hydrogen-powered ferries navigating the Maltese archipelago, showcasing the potential for eco-friendly maritime transportation. 

Beyond the academic rigour, the Winter Schools provided ample opportunities for social engagement and networking. From citizen engagement initiatives to lively karaoke nights, students forged bonds and shared insights, enriching their learning experience. 

The RIS Winter Schools not only showcased the students’ dedication but also underscored the power of collaborative innovation in tackling pressing urban challenges. As these young innovators return to their respective communities armed with newfound knowledge and inspiration, they stand poised to make a tangible difference in the realm of urban mobility. 

First EIT Alumni Node set up at EIT Urban Mobility HQ

In a move aimed at fostering collaboration and networking among alumni of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Knowledge and Innovation Communities (EIT KICs), the first EIT Alumni Node is set to open its doors at the EIT Urban Mobility headquarters in Barcelona. 

Commencing on 22 March 2024, the EIT Urban Mobility HQ located at Torre Glories will provide a dedicated space for EIT Community Alumni to convene and engage in various activities, including networking sessions, startup idea development, and meetings with potential investors and customers. EIT Community Alumni will have the opportunity to book an office space three times a month. 

The primary objective of the EIT Alumni Node project is to offer EIT Community Alumni to boost their business ideas and ventures, and maintain engagement within the EIT community, thereby expanding and strengthening professional networks. Additionally, the initiative is expected to facilitate collaboration with the local ecosystem of startup founders and innovators. 

Why in Barcelona? 

Factors considered in the selection process included CLC (Co-Location Centre) density, the startup, and investment landscape, alumni presence, and connectivity, among other factors. The decision underscores Barcelona’s vibrant innovation ecosystem and its potential to serve as a hub for alumni engagement. 

Looking ahead, plans are underway to establish a second Node elsewhere in Europe in the near future, further expanding opportunities for alumni engagement and collaboration across the continent. 

How to book your office space? 

This initiative is designed to benefit all alumni of EIT Community, encompassing individuals who have previously participated in programmes offered by any KIC branch. EIT Alumni members can register here.

See you in Torre Glories!  

Financial Support to Startups Open Call

Urban mobility is undergoing one of the most transformational shifts of a generation. A successful strategy in the industry requires the adoption of a comprehensive and coherent approach, centred on innovative ventures that are disrupting this landscape.

This drastic global transformation may account for the potentially disruptive long-term impacts, where the new pace of living, consuming, and behaving in cities create a new paradigm for mobility companies to develop products, services, and technologies in all facets: collective, individual, and goods transport.

While the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the economy, the crisis has also encountered major opportunities for innovation and investments. Examples of drivers underpinning this ongoing transformation are mobility companies with high financial, and environmental impact and growth potential.

In pursuit of leading positive change and business prosperity, EIT Urban Mobility is granting financial support up to €500,000 per company in mobility ventures to accelerate their journey, continue critical innovation and ultimately transform the European urban mobility landscape.

We look forward to receiving your applications for inclusion in the Business Plan 2023-2025.

Call Main Features 


Info sessions and contact details 

Call for Applications Main Features
Key dates of the call calendarCall opening: 15 February 2024
Cut-off dates:
•        First cut-off date: 29 April 2024 at 17:00 CET
– Eligibility and admissibility check: May 2024
– Evaluation of applications: May/June 2024
– Communication of result: June/July 2024
•        Second cut-off date: 6 September 2024 at 17:00 CET
– Eligibility and admissibility check: September 2024
– Evaluation of applications: September/October 2024
– Communication of result: November 2024
•        Third cut-off date: 31 January 2025 at 17:00 CET
– Eligibility and admissibility check: February 2025
– Evaluation of applications: February/March 2025
– Communication of result: March/April 2025
•        Fourth cut-off date: TBD
•        Fifth cut-off date: TBD
Total EIT Funding allocated to this call The total EIT funding allocated to this call is €12 million* **
*Out of which up to €3 million dedicated to support startups from RIS countries only. Under this call, RIS covers companies from RIS countries with a pre-money valuation of a maximum €8.5 million. Companies from RIS countries with a pre-money valuation between €8.5 and €20 million will be covered by the general budget.
**The total amount could be increased based on the budget availability of the Impact Ventures Area.
Link to the submission portal The EIT Urban Mobility AwardsForce Platform will be available as of 15 February 2024
List of documents to be submittedApplication form is available on the EIT Urban Mobility AwardsForce Platform.
List of documents to take into consideration•        Call Manual
•        EIT Urban Mobility Strategic Agenda 2021-2027
•        Eligibility of expenditure
•        Appeal procedure
•        Project Implementation Handbook
•        Horizon Europe Grant Agreement (specifically articles 16 and 17)
Short summary of the topics to be addressed EIT Urban Mobility – Impact Ventures Funding support programme grants funding support to startups offering innovative urban mobility solutions to create a more social and healthier environment in cities.

As an impact investor, EIT Urban Mobility invests in solutions that contribute positively to at least one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to sustainable cities and communities, clean energy, and climate action. Furthermore, EIT Urban Mobility encourages inclusive and gender-balanced teams to apply for this funding on green mobility. 

To stimulate the talent and entrepreneurial mindset in all of Europe, EIT Urban Mobility pays special attention to startups incorporated in the 
Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS), where conservative and risk-avoiding policy-making can slow down change and innovation. 

The Financial Support Programme offering to startups, includes real product-market fit as well as access to enter international markets faster.
Pre-screening and evaluation criteria applicable to all the topicsFor the initial evaluation:
•        Strategic fit

For the applications assessment:
•        Quality and efficiency of the implementation, including sound financial management
•        Excellence, novelty, and innovation
•        Impact and financial sustainability Alignment with EITUM vision

For the online live-pitches assessment:
•        Excellence, novelty, and innovation
•        Impact and financial sustainability Alignment with EITUM vision
•        Quality and efficiency of the implementation, including sound financial management

For the final selection:
•        Portfolio fit

Recorded webinars and contact details will be available to guarantee the maximum support to the applicants during the proposal’s preparation process. 

To help applicants with the preparation and submission of their proposals, EIT Urban Mobility will host one live Call Info Day. It will be focused on the call content, the challenges as well as on the submission and evaluation procedures and the financial aspects. Please find the calendar and the link to register in the table below: 

Type of event Topic covered Date and time (CET) Access to platform 
Webinar  Call Info Day: 
Call calendar, evaluation, scope, and challenges of the call, KPIs, EU registration numbers (PIC number), evaluation process, contribution to EIT Urban Mobility financial sustainability, end client role, tips to applicants  
22 March 2024 at 10:00 AM CETThe recording of the webinar will be available afterwards here

Register here for the upcoming info webinar or watch the recording of the information webinar of 29 February 2024. For more information about our startup portfolio, visit the dedicated website.

In parallel to the call information sessions, all applicants may contact EIT Urban Mobility to resolve any concerns or doubts on the general/technical procedures and call content. These are the key contact details of the EIT Urban Mobility team for questions related to this call: 

Type of contact Email 
Legal, Financial, Administrative and general procedures pmo@eiturbanmobility.eu  
Impact Ventures area investments@eiturbanmobility.eu

Growth Lab welcomes 500 members to its startup community

Growth Lab, the largest community of mobility entrepreneurs, has hit a major milestone: it has welcomed a total of 500 members into the community!

Founded as the first community for urban mobility startups powered by EIT Urban Mobility, Growth Lab has quickly established itself as a supportive platform for entrepreneurs. Its diverse membership base spans across Europe and comprises the most promising startups dedicated to shaping the future of urban mobility.

Within Growth Lab, members gain access to a range of resources and opportunities designed to accelerate their growth and success. From access to market opportunities and funding, to the latest sector news and networking events, Growth Lab serves as a one-stop platform for entrepreneurs in the urban mobility space.

Additionally, the Growth Lab community is continually evolving to better serve the needs of members. Over the upcoming months, the introduction of new features is planned, including a fund instruments database, matchmaking with investors and corporations, a mobile app for convenient access, and group segmentation for each mobility sector, offering personalised opportunities for them.

Becoming a member of Growth Lab means joining a supportive network of individuals who share your passion for driving innovation in urban mobility. With all these offerings available in one place, entrepreneurs save valuable time, which they can dedicate to strategic activities, instead of searching for resources. Whether you require funding, support services, or simply seeking connections within the industry; Growth Lab offers valuable resources tailored to your needs.

“I heard about the call for SURE5.0 through Mario’s email. Then we applied to SURE5.0 and when our application was accepted, we received a grant of 50,000 euros. In addition, we learned and benefited from training and internationalization calls through the Growth Lab.” (Emrecan Durmaz, Co-founder Scootable

“It was great. Shook me up and gave another perspective. I’ve had many pitch coaches. This felt really thorough and good. I went away with real feedback and ideas how to change my pitch to make it better.” (Aigars Lauzis from BeTriton on the Investor Pitch Training, exclusively available to Growth Lab members) 

Join Europe’s leading community of over 500 urban mobility startups and take part in a journey of growth, collaboration, and success!

Elevating female leadership: Open Call – EIC Women Leadership Programme (4th cohort)

The European Innovation Council (EIC) is, in partnership with the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), pleased to announce the launch of the 4th cohort of the EIC Women Leadership Programme (EIC WLP). Building on the success from the previous editions, this cohort, running from March to May 2024, will offer EIC and EIT female leaders the tools and support to enhance their leadership and entrepreneurship skills.

The EIC WLP supports, inspires, and empowers female innovators. This cohort will provide the selected leaders with a set of training and networking events, as well as business coaching and mentoring opportunities for career and business development. If you would like to boost up your leadership and entrepreneurial skills, apply until 21 January 2024, EOD!

Got your attention? Check out the testimonials from previous participants below or watch the recording of the last EIC WLP Closing Ceremony here.

Key components of the programme 

  1. Training Sessions: deep dive into a variety of leadership and entrepreneurial topics 
  2. Networking Events: expanding your contacts into the business world 
  3. Coaching Scheme: addressing your business challenges 
  4. Mentoring Scheme: unlocking your personal career development 

Before applying, please check the timeline of the EIC WLP activities below to ensure your availability.

Application deadline21 January (EOD)
Confirmation of participation9 February
Introductory workshop 20 February (online)  
Kick-off meeting  5 March (online)  
Weekly Training Sessions March – May (mornings, online)  
2 Networking events March – April (online)
Training Session & Networking event EIC Summit, 18 & 19 March (Brussels)*  
Closing Ceremony May (online)  
*Please kindly note that the EIC or EIT will not cover your travel & logistic expenses to attend the in-person event in Brussels.

Eligibility criteria 

The 4th cohort of the EIC Women Leadership Programme is dedicated exclusively to female leaders who are in a founding team and/or chief positions (CEOs or other C-suite positions) of companies, established at least 2 years before the call deadline, and awarded or supported under the following EIC and EIT schemes:

  • SME Instrument Phase I and Phase II,
  • EIC Transition,
  • EIC Pathfinder,
  • EIC Accelerator,
  • Seal of Excellence under Horizon Europe,
  • Women TechEU and
  • EIT Programmes (all KICs).

We are looking forward to welcoming you into our community of female innovators and benefit from the programme services to take your business career into the next level.

Need help?

For additional information, please refer to our Helpdesk service (please choose ‘EIC Women Leadership Programme’ as the subject) or visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

What our alumni say about EIC WLP?

Joana Simões Correia, Executive Director and CSO at Exogenus Therapeutics: “The EIC Women Leadership Programme was all about self-confidence and empowerment.

Alessandra Balduini, Professor and principal Investigation at SilkFusion: “The EIC Women Leadership Programme had a great impact on my career. As a scientist, I learnt about business and how to direct my science, my research, in that sense.”

Additional Information about the EIC Women Leadership Programme

Involvement of women in advanced technology sectors is crucial not only for equitable representation but also to fully harness Europe’s capabilities in science and business. The EIC Business Acceleration Services (BAS) amplify the impact of EIC investments. With the Women Leadership Program (WLP), the EIC aims to level the playing field in scalable businesses and mindsets by unlocking potential and breaking down barriers to success! Established as a pilot in 2021, the WLP has so far provided skills enhancement and networking support to 3 cohorts of more than 180 female researchers and entrepreneurs from the EIC Community and beyond. Besides dedicated trainings, the programme features individual coaching, mentoring and pitching activities as well as different outreach initiatives to raise awareness and showcase women researchers and entrepreneurs as role models.

Empowering individuals to become digital leaders with our new specialisation on Digital Transformation!

In today’s landscape, every industry, both in the public and private sectors, is rapidly “going digital”. Yet, the demand for employees with digital skills far exceeds the supply. The ERASMUS+ project Managing Digital Transformation Academy (MDTA) was conceived to respond to this pressing need.

The objective of MDTA project is to offer a programme tailored for both students and professionals. It encompasses six specialisations, strategically addressing the essential components of the “leadership skills triangle”: technology, business/commerce, and leadership. The final goal is to empower individuals to become digital leaders capable of driving and facilitating successful digital transformation. 

Today, we are pleased to introduce our newest initiative, the specialisation “Digital Transformation: A Changing Society”, composed by three MOOCs open now to registration.

This programme not only bridges the skills gap but also provides a unique solution to several essential requirements in today’s digital landscape by preparing professionals capable of formulating and executing strategies that address digital transformation challenges effectively. 

EIT Urban Mobility Academy Participation 

At the EIT Urban Mobility Academy, we are deeply committed to the critical needs and priorities of urban mobility, and digital transformation is a defining force today, reshaping industries and markets. By joining this project, we aimed to contribute to the development of a programme that would equip individuals and organisations with the tools and knowledge to navigate the digital technologies’ impact on urban mobility. 

Our participation also facilitated valuable collaborations with other prominent European institutions. These partnerships have further solidified our mission to enhance skills in individuals and organisations and expand our collective impact. The participant institutions were: 

  • University of Twente (The Netherlands)   
  • Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal)  
  • University of Applied Science Saxion (The Netherlands)  
  • ACEEU (Germany)  
  • Athens University of Economics and Business (Greece)  
  • Fachhochschule Munster (Germany)  
  • EIT Urban Mobility (Spain) 

Moreover, this initiative aligns with our objective to create engaging learning solutions in urban mobility. This specialisation allowed us to gain expertise by creating engaging digital learning experiences that align with one of our core missions. It’s an exciting opportunity to foster innovation and ensure that professionals are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in this digital era. 

Martin Vendel, EIT Urban Mobility Academy Director, with Miguel de Castro Neto, Associate Professor at NOVA Information Management School. 

The content of the specialisation:  “Digital Transformation: A Changing Society”  

The specialisation created by the EIT Urban Mobility Academy is a journey through the digital landscape and its profound impact on our society via three interconnected MOOCs. From understanding the historical factors that drive technological success and predicting future trends to mastering scenario planning, and the intricacies of business roles and partnerships in a digital environment, this specialisation offers a holistic exploration of digital transformation. By the end of this program, participants will have the capacity to drive innovation and make informed decisions in the urban mobility landscape. 

Learn more about our project here. 

You can register to the specialisation here.

If you have any questions, contact us: lorena.henriquez@eiturbanmobility.eu 

The New European Bauhaus Catalyse programme looks for socially innovative start-ups

The EIT Community New European Bauhaus (NEB) has announced a new call for its pioneering Catalyse programme. The call, which has been launched by EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Food, EIT Manufacturing, and EIT Urban Mobility is looking for start-ups that view social innovation as the key to delivering systems change and new ways of living together. This year will be the programme’s largest ever cohort with 28 spots available for successful start-ups. 

European start-ups or scale-ups driving change in the areas of climate, cities, transport, industry and food are encouraged to apply. 

The winning 28 applicants will receive support services worth a total of €50,000. Within this, they will benefit from unique NEB-specific training, in addition to leadership coaching, business mentoring and access to one of the most prominent innovation communities in Europe.

Applicants must demonstrate the social and economic impact of their innovation and how it embodies the three core principles of the NEB: 


• Sustainability – achieving climate goals through circularity and biodiversity 
• Aesthetics – emphasising quality of experience and design beyond functionality
• Inclusion – championing diversity, securing accessibility and improving affordability 

The New European Bauhaus

Initially announced by President Von der Leyen in her State of the Union address and launched by the European Commission in early 2021, the NEB is best understood as a practical application of the European Green Deal, which aims to improve the health, wellbeing and daily lives of both citizens and future generations.

The EIT Community is ideally placed to support the implementation of the NEB as it has created Europe’s largest innovation ecosystem with over 2,000 partners (business, research, education, cities) cooperating in over 60 hubs across Europe. 

By engaging with European innovators and civil society at large, the community is promoting business through start-up creation and growth, as well as contributing to citizen education and engagement. 

Join the New European Bauhaus Catalyse programme and help shape a more sustainable, beautiful and inclusive future for Europe.  

Click here to learn more about the programme and find out how to apply.

Applications are open until 4 December 2023.

Shaping the Future of Innovation in Europe: EIT Urban Mobility joins the new Start For Future Cooperative

EIT Urban Mobility is delighted to join the Start For Future (SFF) Cooperative, recognising it as a significant milestone in fostering long-term collaboration and cooperation among European universities and innovation actors.

Our organisation proudly stands among the 18 prominent founding partners from the existing alliance, which consists of universities, incubators, research organizations, business entities and cities. The inaugural meeting held during the SFF Varna Summit on June 24, 2023, marked a momentous occasion as the Start For Future Cooperative officially became a unified legal entity, set to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of innovation in Europe. 

We believe that volume is required to achieve excellence. Volume is achieved with an inclusive and democratic model, where success benefits the entire network rather than just a select few. A scalable and democratic approach – such as the one taken by the Start for Future Cooperative- is essential for promoting an eco-centric rather than an ego-centric view. As already demonstrated by the organizations involved in SFF, potential for innovation and entrepreneurship is to be found and nurtured in every corner of Europe, leveraging European Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in combination with regional stakeholders.”

stated Martin Vendel, Academy Director of EIT KIC Urban Mobility. 

What is this cooperative about? 

Among the ambitious goals set forth by the cooperative: nurturing 1 million start-ups in Deep Tech, training and mentoring 2 million talents, involving 1,000 universities in Europe and globally, and fostering connections between 3,000 industry partners by 2035. By actively promoting collaboration and knowledge exchange between universities and innovation actors, the SFF Cooperative cultivates an environment that nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship, characterised by openness and democracy.

The cooperative’s unwavering focus on systemic innovation perfectly aligns with EIT Urban Mobility’s broader commitment to address societal challenges and enhance the well-being of European citizens.  

This alliance marks an inspiring new chapter in the European innovation and entrepreneurship landscape, where collaboration thrives, paving the way for a brighter and more prosperous future. 

Who are the founding members?

How did everything started?

In 2020, Start for Future (SFF) – a Pan-European student incubation programme – took its initial steps, fuelled by support and funding coming from the EIT´s HEI initiative and backed by Germany´s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). EIT Urban Mobility has been actively supporting the alliance’s development since then.  

Over the past few years, SFF has emerged as one of Europe’s most vibrant and rapidly expanding innovation alliances, bringing together academia, start-ups, industry, and public organizations. Now, it is embarking on its next phase, by formally establishing itself as a European Cooperative Society / Societas Cooperativa Europaea (SCE). With an ambitious vision to boost systemic innovation, the SFF Cooperative is poised to drive transformative advancements that will shape the future of innovation in Europe. 

Learn more about Start for Future here.

Why we invested in Dreamwaves? – A spatial audio technology serving vulnerable commuters

Nowadays, a new generation of sector-agnostic VC (Venture Capital) funds is emerging to laser-focus on solutions advocating for inclusivity. This trend follows the political agenda of decision-makers backed by a vast amount of data collected in the past decade. As showcased in multiple studies, they serve researchers and thought leaders when pointing out gaps and deficiencies existing in the current mobility systems. Technological leap with the high pace in which urban areas grow makes them an incredibly attractive, albeit competitive space for solution providers where implementation speed and economic efficiency naturally gain the position of urging priorities.

Although it is true that competition translates into quality and eventually leads to cutting down on emissions while improving the quality of life, so-called smart cities are often overseeing vulnerable groups and minorities with needs that are different from the regular user profile. In this article, a hi-tech software solution supporting the blind and visually impaired will be discussed.

How does Dreamwaves work?  

As an organization bridging all types of stakeholders under the pan-European roof, the special mandate of EIT Urban Mobility is to be vocal about the mobility-related needs of vulnerable minorities and lead the peloton of actors working on safe and inclusive public spaces.

Dreamwaves, an Austrian start-up founded and led by Hugo Furtado, Liliana Calapez, Elke Mattheiss, and Lukas Zimmermann strengthened the company’s equity portfolio with the right tool to work on this agenda. Namely, a software employing augmented reality technology to unlock the unique sound navigation experience to its users, making them feel safe and welcome on the busy streets. With Dreamwaves, the blind and visually impaired can navigate their surroundings with greater confidence and independence, creating a more equitable environment for all.

Why we invested in Dreamwaves? 

What sparked EIT Urban Mobility investor´s attention and dispelled potential doubts? Let´s zoom at a simple 3xT test applied in this case as a part of standard qualification analysis.

  1. Timing

It all started with a spotted opportunity and a multi-billion market that awaited to be unleashed. As he later admitted during one of the off-track conversations, Hugo Furtado – CEO of Dreamwaves – was always a passion-driven entrepreneur centered on new technologies and out-of-the-box innovations. To be crazy or not to be at all. Following the music and gaming industries racing solitary for both hardware and software improvements to take the sound experience to the next level, he already saw a brand-new use case. It later resulted with the thought that it pays off to look right when everyone goes left. And talking about the majority, all of us interact with audio content while commuting or during physical outdoor activities. It is nothing strange considering the fact that – following Eurostat´s data (1) – in 2019 an average commuting time oscillated around 25 minutes. However, as explained with greater detail in different study (2), for one-fifth of the population it could be extended to over 90 minutes per day.

To put it briefly: headphones, of all sizes and kinds, are nowadays an extension of our bodies. Extension that might be more than a source of entertainment, especially for the blind and visually impaired. Dreamwaves decided to be the voice of blind people, making them see the world through their ears.

2. Technology

In principle, the whole concept of screen- and hands-free navigation offered via waveOut can be stressed in three steps. Once the destination is selected and the journey kicks-off, virtual waypoints are being placed in the real world around the user. On the fly. The goal is to reach them and to make it happen, the user must hear them. That is when the sound is activated. It can be compared to a phone call when the ringtone allows us to locate the device. The closer we are, by nature the louder becomes the sound. The same law applies to the Dreamwaves´ software. As soon as the checkpoint is reached, the next waypoint is placed, and the voice switches its location. Again and over, following the beat of a gentle drum until the doormat. Or one´s favourite bookshop.

As simple and naïve the above may sound, the way-finding solution enclosed in the app requires the latest augmented reality toolkits, global positioning advances and machine learning methods behind the scenes. Additional challenges lie in the accuracy that in the busy streets full of static obstacles and dynamic objects must be ultimately reliable. Understanding the state-of-the art of computer vision methods to determine the location of the user in real time helps to overcome this barrier.

Connected to the multi-object environment but being a separate problem class is omnipresent noise pollution. As the solution is hardware-agnostic, meaning that no special upfront investment in wearables is required, it is crucial to ensure that the best experience is provided, even with some quality being lost. This trade-off is a fair price for making the solution truly open and accessible to everyone.

3. Tests & Testimonials

While Dreamwaves is changing the way people understand and sense their locations, the competent and interdisciplinary team navigate itself company´s growth by hearing to the group of early-adopters and tech geeks. Hundreds of individuals were involved in the design and testing phases, with the others feeding engineers with further, post-launch testimonials.

The best thing we ever heard from a user was: “It’s a bit like seeing. The fact that I constantly can hear the direction I have to go to is a great advantage!”. This made us really proud, and also gave us the feeling that we are in the right direction. On the tough days, thinking about this and other pieces of feedback, really keeps us motivated and going!” – said Hugo Furtado, the CEO of Dreamwaves.

Besides feedback, interactions are constantly feeding the team with new ideas, because the real beauty of every journey lies in additional opportunities being unfolded on the way. For Dreamwaves, these are cavernous cycling and travelling markets where hundreds of millions of users are looking for tricks to make their lives easier and their urban trips saver. Is there anyone out there who didn’t manoeuvre the bike with one hand while staring at phone maps?

Future Mobility: amplifying the voice of inclusivity

Accompanied by the story of Hugo, Liliana, Elke, and Lukas this is the space to reflect all the barriers that still must be overcome to eradicate the gap between the blind or visually impaired and the rest sensing the surrounding with sight. With its first step and team efforts, Dreamwaves points to the direction we should look at technology. Its proper incorporation into urban and suburban areas can significantly enrich the existing toolkit, making the lenses through which smart cities are defined adjusted to the needs of commuting minorities. Only then we will be entitled to call streets inclusive and open spaces.

Do you want to know more about Dreamwaves’s mission and its solutions?

Visit the company website and LinkedIn. You can also further explore their product via EIT UM Marketplace.

This article is part of Why we invested? series presenting EIT Urban Mobility equity portfolio.


About the author

Mateusz Kaluza – investments analyst at EIT Urban Mobility, passionate about data and active mobility. Scouting for impact-driven innovations enabling shift towards citizen-oriented transportation systems. Contact at: mateusz.kaluza@eiturbanmobility.eu

Supporting literature:

Why we invested in ProperGate? – The smart solution to deal with logistics of complex construction sites and suppliers

When thinking about the scope of urban mobility, there is always a vertical that pops into our minds and this is city logistics. However, what fits within the concept of logistics is never too obvious. Construction tech is a rapidly growing industry that has the potential to transform the way we build and manage our cities, and yes, it’s an industry directly related with urban logistics.

EIT Urban Mobility has made a ground-breaking investment in ProperGate, a Polish construction tech start-up that has become the first successful investment in Poland for the organisation.

How does ProperGate work?  

ProperGate’s innovative platform aims to digitize and streamline the construction logistics management process, reducing the time, cost, and environmental impact of construction projects. With ProperGate’s platform, builders and suppliers can track and manage their deliveries to construction projects in real time, identify and address issues more quickly and efficiently, and reduce the need for paper-based documentation.

ProperGate addresses the needs of all potential customers in the construction supply chain, from real estate developers and investors to subcontractors and suppliers, all having a customized profile to sign up for within the platform. And yet its direct customers are not the only ones to benefit from the results of the solution, as the use of ProperGate’s innovation indirectly contributes to the development of the professional construction sector by adding tools and methods that will have to be acquired by young professionals.

Why we invested in ProperGate? 

Construction site logistics can be a significant pain point not only for the constructors but also for the surrounding city and the people that live in it.

Give it a thought; the usually limited space around an urban construction site can make it difficult to manoeuvre large construction vehicles and equipment, leading to potential safety hazards and logistical challenges for the delivery of materials and supplies; in already densely populated areas, heavy traffic around the construction site can cause more delays and disruptions than normal and often become a significant source of disruptive noise, having severe effects in the health and well-being of citizens. On top of all these challenges, construction sites also contribute to polluting the city, with negative environmental impacts ranging from air and water pollution to soil contamination. Therefore, managing construction site logistics effectively is crucial to minimizing the negative impact of construction on the surrounding urban environment.

The onboarding of ProperGate into EIT Urban Mobility’s equity portfolio is testament of a threefold purpose: First, as its first successful investment in a Polish registered company, EIT Urban Mobility proofs to have fruitfully taken measures to ensure that funds are directed towards the RIS[1] region; second, as EIT Urban Mobility’s first investment in the construction tech industry, the KIC shows its commitment to explore and boost the endless potential of the urban mobility meaning; and finally, by supporting the gender-diverse C-level team that leads ProperGate, EIT Urban Mobility is also backing its mission of promoting female entrepreneurship.

Do you want to know more about ProperGate’s mission and its solutions?

Visit the company website and LinkedIn. 

This article is part of Why we invested? series presenting EIT Urban Mobility equity portfolio.

[1] Regional Innovation Scheme


This is an article of the series Why we invested in? Written by Anna Burgués, RIS Officer at EIT Urban Mobility.