#7 Mobility Lab: "Don't Talk, But Test!"

Episode 7 May 18, 2022 00:27:06
#7 Mobility Lab: "Don't Talk, But Test!"
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#7 Mobility Lab: "Don't Talk, But Test!"

May 18 2022 | 00:27:06


Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

In this episode, we are talking about testing mobility solutions and how to accelerate new technology developments with Yves FrèreProject Manager at the Mobility Lab in the Netherlands.

Mobility Lab accelerates the development of startups that are ready to set up their first real-life pilot. Their goal is to allow start-ups and organisations with mobility issues to test innovative solutions together in practice

Are you a start-up wanting to pilot your proposition in the Netherlands? Apply now!

Are you another start-up programme or another mobility lab wanting to collaborate? Contact them!


Overview of the episode:

02:30 - Teaser: What is your favourite new mobility technology that you have seen?

04:44 - How did Mobility Lab start, and how does it function? 

08:27 - How is it funded?

09:48 - How can public sector and private sector organisations work with Mobility Lab?

11:22 - The success story of the start-up Felyx and the challenges encountered with the start-up ENSO

15:10 - Haven't we tested enough? How do we get from pilots to scale-up after the technologies leave the lab?  

18:12 - Call for start-ups applications and mobility labs collaboration

20:45 - Flip the Script: our guest is asking the questions! 

23:19 - Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?


Liked our show? Remember to rate it! Want to join us for an episode? Contact our host Tamlyn Shimizu.

And for more insights, join our Smart City Community!

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Yves Frère 00:00:00 We have the main focus on what's the impact of the startup. How can this startup help, uh, the transition towards sustainable mobility? And that's, I don't know, what's better. It's just different from what other startup programs do. Um, and that's one. Yeah, that's how the mobility hub stands out. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:25 Welcome to Smart in the City - the BABLE Podcast, I am your host Tamlyn Shimizu, and really at BABLE, we aim to connect the players in the Smart City industry with high-quality information and ideas through our platform and services. This podcast is really an extension of this goal and mission to drive the change for a better urban life. And first, a quick announcement from BABLE as a company dedicated to driving the change for a better future. We at BABLE express our support for all victims of the Ukrainian-Russian war. To all our listeners, if you're wondering how to best support Ukraine from a foreign country, please visit the following website: supportukrainenow.org. And now onto our episode. So today we are talking about testing mobility solutions and how to link challenges from governments and other launching customers to new technologies from startups and how to accelerate these developments, the best person to talk to about that. Um, I have with us today, uh, and his name is Yves Frère, who is a project manager at the Mobility Lab in the Netherlands. Hi Yves. Welcome onto the show. Yves Frère 00:01:47 Thank you. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:48 Hopefully I didn't butcher your last name too bad. Yves Frère 00:01:51 We can practice <laugh> Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:53 Yeah, we can practice my French. Um, yeah, I've, I've already embarrassed myself a fair amount on this podcast with, um, with names I think so, um, I'm used to it <laugh> yeah, but yeah, Yves Frère 00:02:03 I've heard worst. I've heard worst versions, so, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:06 Okay, good, good. I also have a difficult name, so I'm very accustomed to that. So, um, yeah. Great to have you on the, on the show today, and I'm really interested, you know, I heard your colleagues speaking at the POLIS conference and I thought it was such an interesting, uh, way that you guys really engaged with, um, private and public sector. And you know, of course here at BABLE, that's all what we're about as well. So, um, yeah, very interested to dig in a bit deeper with you. Yeah. Um, and to start us off just a little teaser to get us warmed up, what is your favorite new mobility technology that you've seen? Yves Frère 00:02:44 Ooh, that's quite a difficult, yeah. Quite a difficult question to start off with. Um, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:51 Sorry, maybe not so warmed up yet <laugh> Yves Frère 00:02:54 <laugh> yeah. Um, through the years we've seen loads of starters pass through the mobility lab with loads of new tech technologies. What we often see is that a technology on itself is not completely new, but it's, it's just a different application of an existing technology. Uh, for example, we have a startup that, uh, we've had a startup in a program that's called TILER. Uh, what they do is they do, they, uh, make a, a tile, uh, for, for a curbside for pavement and it's, uh, a standard size and you can, uh, wirelessly charge an e-bike on that, on that tile. So, oh, cool. Uh, it makes a transition through, uh, to a sustainable or more active mobility, pretty, uh, pretty smooth with, with such a disruptive idea. Like, you know, the Netherlands is, uh, is a bike oriented country. Very, yeah. We have loads of e-bikes as well. Um, and with the development of, uh, uh, yeah, bigger highways for bikes, uh, they're developing in the Netherlands, uh, this, this new technology with, uh, with, uh, wirelessly charging an e-bike can be pretty disruptive and can really, um, uh, speed up the, the, the transition to, uh, to, uh, sustainable mobility. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:17 Yeah. Cool. I, I'm a big fan of eBikes myself. I have one, um, it's quite hill. I live at the top of a hill, so I really appreciate the e-bike and I would love a solution like that as well. Yves Frère 00:04:28 Check out TILER! Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:30 Yeah, I'll check them out. Yves Frère 00:04:31 Yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:32 I think anytime also, I'm, I'm fascinated by all the solutions that connect better, the energy and mobility together as well. So, um, yeah, that's a really interesting one, so, yeah. Thanks for sharing. Um, and so can you give us, um, a bit of more background about mobility lab? How did it start? How does it function? Um, what's your business model? Yves Frère 00:04:53 Yeah. So in the net loads of startup programs and loads of them have the aim on solely helping the startup grow or scale up mobility was quite different. Uh, in regards to that, it started in Rotterdam, uh, to them, uh, six years ago. And what, uh, in Rotterdam they saw is that the, the port was growing, the city was growing and to keep all the areas accessible and to keep the city livable, uh, a pleasant city to live, they needed to make a steps on, on, on changing the mobility, really engaging in the mobility transition. They saw that as government, uh, they're not alone in that. So they need companies, local, uh, employers, big, uh, logistic companies to do, to, to, uh, transform together with them towards a sustainable mobility system. Uh, so they really saw, we need public private, uh, collaboration to get this going. Yves Frère 00:05:54 So they wanted to start programs in which they could collaborate with the market with big companies to form the transition. But what they saw is that if they, uh, they ask for, uh, certain types of solution, big companies always came with the same type of solutions. Uh, and they felt like at that time there was loads of space for innovation, for new companies, for new ideas, for new innovation innovations to take their role in the, in that mobility transition. And then the idea of mobility lab came up. What if we, uh, instead of working together with big companies, uh, focus a bit of our attention on small companies on, uh, those bright minds, those young companies that have, uh, disruptive ideas about our mobility system, and that's how the mobility have started. We found out that those startups, uh, could use loads of help with testing their innovation as, uh, young companies, pretty hard for them to get access to test sites, uh, with companies with governments. Yves Frère 00:06:56 And what we see is that those big companies get loads of requests from, from other companies to collaborate. Uh, so the stars could help getting into, uh, uh, testing opportunities. So as a mobility mobility lab, we saw a gap there and we jumped into that. Um, so we, on the one side, we, we help startups testing their, uh, their solutions, but on the other side, we need testing sites as well. And that's why we, uh, uh, connect with, with, with launching customers as well. Uh, that could be governments. It could be, uh, corporates, but also SMEs, uh, with mobility, with mobility, uh, challenges. And we connect those two, uh, together, um, with our motto, "don't talk, but test". So we want to let those parties come together, startups and launching customers and go, uh, to test the solution of the startup to see whether it works, uh, if it needs further, uh, development and how, uh, what possibilities there are for the, uh, startups to scale up after a successful pilot. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:08:02 Cool. Yeah. Um, I really like that also "don't talk, but test", and also, I really appreciated another thing that you said about, you know, disrupting, um, cuz I think a lot of times it's so easy to get stuck in the status quo and get used to who you're working with in government and everything. Um, and so disrupting that with new ideas is super important. So yeah. Thanks for sharing that. Um, and so how is it funded? I'm sure that's a question that's also on people's minds. Yves Frère 00:08:31 Yeah. Uh, as the mobility lab itself, we do not have a business case ourselves. So, uh that's because we have different goals. Um, the mobility lab is organized, organized by different, uh, governments in the Netherlands. Um, it was founded by the case on the naming and now, uh, that role is taken over by the municipality of Rotterdam. So the municipality for Rotterdam is one of the partners and next to Rotterdam, the city of Rotterdam, there's the provinces of province of limb and the province of U tract. So it's a 100% governmental, uh, government funded. Uh, and that's why we don't need, uh, to have a business case ourselves. Um, what we see is that other, uh, uh, startup programs do need a business case. Um, and that's why they have, uh, more focus on, uh, thes coming out of the startups. Yeah. And we have the main focus on what's the impact of the startup. How can this startup help, uh, the transition toward sustainable mobility? Uh, and that's, I don't know, what's better. It's just different than what other startup programs do. Um, and that's one. Yeah. That's how the mobility up stands, stands out. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:09:46 Yeah. Wonderful. Um, so how can public sector organizations work with you and how can private sector organizations work with you? How does that whole process work? Yves Frère 00:09:57 Yeah. Um, so as that, we always are looking for challenges, uh, challenges with, uh, from, uh, public sector or private sector. Um, and those challenges are often combined with the testing side for startups. So what they can do is they go, they can go to our website, www mobility, NL, and there's a contact form and they can get in touch with us or they can reach out if I LinkedIn with me or one of our, uh, the people working for us. Um, and what we especially want to do is to dig into them what their mobility challenges are, can be on several topics, on logistics, on, uh, uh, sustainable, uh, sustainable city. It can be on the accessibility on, uh, loads of topics. Um, and then if they, if we can dig into that on the challenges challenge, um, we are going to connect that, uh, uh, to the startups we've selected that here. Uh, so we can set up speed dates and, uh, uh, those likes of customers actually meeting then with the startups to see if there's a potential match. And if there's a potential match, we are, they're trying to work that to a pilot, an actual pilot where things are going to be tested on the street with actual users in the actual world. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:11:19 Yeah. Yeah. Wonderful. Um, and so I wonder if you can share with me a bit on like one time that you were like very successful, like a success case, and also on the flip side, maybe one time when you failed, we don't like to call it failure really. Um, but maybe a lesson lesson learned there or something like that. Yves Frère 00:11:38 Yeah, of course. Uh, over the years we've done loads of successful pilots over more than 70 pilots we've done in, in, uh, in six years. So that's quite, uh, a big number. Um, so there are loads of success stories and one stands out, particularly in particular for me, um, in the Netherlands, we have the green shared mope, that's called Felyx. Um, it's quite, uh, big and it's, it's, it's, uh, scaling up internationally as well at the moment. Um, and they've done their first pilot, uh, in Rotterdam, uh, through mobility lab. Um, so with the mobility, we're at the, uh, the, with, with the founders, of course we're at the basis of the, of the success of, uh, of, so that's quite, uh, a good story to tell that there are companies that were in the beginning of the mobility club and through the years, I've skilled up to, to be a, a really big successful company. Yves Frère 00:12:35 Um, on the flip side, like, like one of the, the failures or the, the bad stories. And there are always startups in the program, which we, as a part of the program, feel like they're actually solving a big problem in a, uh, certain region that we're operating in, but we're like always working without a kingdom. So if we want to do a pilot, we always need, uh, to engage municipalities companies, to host the startup, uh, on their, on their grounds or to, uh, host them, uh, on their testing side. And it often happens that a launch of go doesn't have the budget, uh, budget available, or doesn't have actually the time to engage, uh, with the startup because they're handling their day to day business as well. Uh, and it often happens that we actually see enormous potential for a startup, but we just can't get through to, to the, uh, launch customers to engage with them. Yves Frère 00:13:41 And a big example of that is the startup called ENSO. We had them in the program last year, and ENSO is a startup which developed, uh, a sustainable car tire. Uh, they state that, uh, a big part of the microplastic in that's that's that we have in the environment comes from rubber, uh, pollution from car tires, with electric, uh, the electric car market merging every day. Uh, the, the problem only gets bigger because they have more torque electric cars, uh, and they developed a sustainable circular car tire for electrical vehicles. And they offered, uh, uh, Dutch launching customers for 10 cars, uh, a free pilot with their, with that tires tires, but we just didn't get through companies to, to, uh, to test with them due to loads of different reasons. But I still, uh, think that's a missed opportunity as well for us and for the companies, uh, in the Netherlands with, with, uh, electrical, uh, vehicles in their fleet. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:14:47 Yeah. Matchmaking is hard, right. So you have to have two very willing parties, um, and willing to cooperate, willing to talk. And also with time capacity, I know it's a huge challenge with working with governments, right. Is a capacity problem as well. So sometimes the will is there and there's other obstacles. Right. So, yeah. Yeah. Very important. So, um, so to play devil's advocate a bit, I guess, uh, the question I have for you is, you know, you're talking about testing and testing and testing and, uh, doing pilots, but, uh, you know, we we've tested a lot, have haven't we tested enough or also how do we ensure, or how do you ensure that they get from pilot to scale up, um, and the technologies actually leave and go on to do bigger and better things. Yves Frère 00:15:38 Yeah, I think that's, uh, that's, uh, uh, good question. Uh, and it's always good at place wi with pilot programs. Uh, we always need to make sure that we're not only about the pilots and for us, that's a, that's a more existential question as well. Um, over the years, we've seen that companies that, uh, were in the mobility lab, like a couple of years ago have grown. Uh, so that's quite a natural process. Um, and in the, in the program, we do have attention for that. Uh, for example, uh, we're going, we're working with learning questions. So, uh, uh, we're trying to, uh, validate, uh, a couple of things and we, uh, report on that as well. So make sure that everything we learn through the pilots is well documented, and we can share that with, uh, with our network. Um, but then again, um, when you say haven't, we piloted enough, I think that's, that's a limited innovation strategy. Uh, so we need to do PI we do need to have, uh, focus on how do we scale up, but it doesn't mean that we can, uh, uh, uh, remove our focus on, on, on piloting. So we always need new technologies and we'll always, uh, need, uh, uh, space need, uh, some room for startups to, to pilot their innovations. Next, that 100% agree. We also need focus on scaling up, but it doesn't mean that we can lose our focus on piloting. So we need to do both. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:17:20 Yeah. Yeah. It sounds good. Yeah. I agree with you really. Um, I think one challenge that we see is a lot of pilots not going to scale and up, so it's something that we need to collaborate on more. Right. And seeing how we can always improve upon that, um, and really take those lessons from the pilots and carry them on in the real world. So to say, so, um, yeah. Cool. And I just wanted to give you, um, the floor, if you'd like it, um, you don't have to take it, but I wanted to give you the floor to talk about, you know, two minutes, if there's anything that you really want to emphasize, um, to, to our listeners really, uh, on both public private academia, who, whoever might be listening, um, what mobility lab really stands for, or another cool story. We like stories as well. So I give you the floor if you'd like it. Yves Frère 00:18:11 Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. I would like to emphasize a couple of things for us is that we're opened as a Dutch mobility lobster right now, looking for startups, uh, Dutch startups, but as well, international startups that are wanting to, to pilot their, uh, their proposition in the Netherlands. They can apply, uh, to mobility at this very moment. So would really much like to invite them to go to mobility or otherwise, uh, uh, Google us and you'll find us for sure. Um, subscribe and, uh, hope we'll see you in the program as well, to Dutch launching customers. They can, uh, reach out to us as well to test their, uh, if they have a challenge and we can, uh, we can test with them. Um, so that said, uh, next to that, um, I would really like to, uh, reach out to other mobility labs, uh, uh, mobility programs that do stuff like us. Yves Frère 00:19:10 Um, at this moment, we're, we're collaborating with, uh, mobility lab in Germany and in Austria, uh, we're trying to form a European mobility network to organize the ERASMUS scholarships, uh, for, for startups in, in Europe, there's an ERASMUS scholarship, so that students from university can, uh, go abroad for, to do courses at another university. And we would like to organize that for startups. So that's startups that have passed through one startup program. It gets, uh, the opportunity to test with other launching customers and to take a next step, uh, abroad. So that's what we wanna organize. And we wanna reach out to other, uh, international mobility labs, uh, or startup programs to reach out to us if you're interested in, in participating in, uh, in such program. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:20:03 Wow. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for that. And I'm sure there's gonna be a lot of people interested. Um, so for the, for this startup, is there like an end date on when they need to apply by? Yves Frère 00:20:13 Yeah, yeah, yeah. They have until the end of may 31st of May, our is our deadline for the subscription. Good edition tablet. So if you wanna apply, make sure you do that in the next couple of weeks, if you want more information, reach out as well. Uh, our startup manager, uh, we'll come back to you so you can have, we can have a chat about this, what mobility can do for you and what you can do for us. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:20:41 Okay. Okay, great. Thank you. Um, and then, uh, with that, I will, uh, take us to our final segment, um, which is called this time flip the script, um, is the segment I've assigned to you flip the script. You are the one asking the questions and all be the one answering them. So I don't know if you have a question for me that anything you would like to ask me. Yves Frère 00:21:10 Yeah. You were playing the devil advocate earlier. Yeah. You were asking me Tamlyn Shimizu 00:21:16 Revenge time. Speaker 0 00:21:19 I would like to see your, how do you, uh, what are your thoughts on, on, on that, uh, with BABLE, you do a lot of, uh, interactions as well with challenges and, and, and interaction with cities as well. So I would like to hear your view on that as well. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:21:35 Yeah. It's, it's always a challenge. Um, but, uh, so one, one big thing that we do is, um, trying to, uh, reach scale-up is having this platform where we keep all of our Use Cases and all the lessons learned consolidated in one place. Um, so that people don't, you know, keep on making the same mistakes, um, that they can really scale quicker. Um, so that's one thing that we try to do, um, for scale up also with, uh, yeah, we, we also believe piloting is important and we've seen a lot of cool pilots. We, we like, uh, seeing the new innovations from startups and everything like that. Um, and we also try to connect them, um, uh, in some ways with the, with the public sector as well through the sharing of information, um, is one way that we do that. Um, and then also, I, I guess, uh, for example, um, it's something I'm, uh, passionate about is more working more with this, you know, connecting and collaborating with others. So seeing what, um, organizations like you are doing and seeing how we could collaborate in the future to maybe, um, combine our efforts, um, to yeah. Make more impact. So I'm really passionate about this kind of partnering more. And I think you are too, as you just had the call out for, you know, mobility labs partner, more like we can make more impact together. Um, and I think that's really how we'll get from these, um, pilots to really scaling up more efficiently and effectively. So, um, that's my viewpoint. Hopefully that answered your question. Yves Frère 00:23:09 Yeah. <laugh> it does. It does. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:23:10 Cool. Um, yeah, I could talk about that for a long time. So that was a good one. So, um, yeah. Wonderful. So now I will ask you a recurring question. We ask every single guest and it's always an interesting part because, um, yeah, it's, everyone has a different answer and I often have a different answer depending on what mood I'm in as well. So it's a question, um, to you, what is a Smart City? Yves Frère 00:23:40 Ooh, <laugh> good question. Um, at the moment, I think our cities are mainly designed in a more functional way. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> like, uh, how over the years, uh, uh, we've been really good in optimizing, uh, our cities, uh, so we can get from a, to B more efficiently, we can move our products more efficiently from a to B mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, and our whole infrastructure and design is mainly focused on that. And we see that at the moment with the pandemic, we saw that that was not actually what we all would've liked it to be. Yeah. Uh, more emphasis is, has gone to, um, how can we enjoy our lives in what environment do we want to actually live? And does that correspond with how we we've organized things? And for me, a smart city is a city that's adapted, uh, to, uh, Maxima adapted to a maximum, to facilitate and to, um, accommodate healthy, uh, healthy and, uh, social and environment for people to have a, a good life instead of an efficient life. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:07 Yeah. That's really nicely put well done. Um, Yves Frère 00:25:10 Does that make sense to you? Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:11 Yes. Yes. It makes perfect sense to me and I completely agree. Um, so yeah, uh, it doesn't have to just, it's not just functional, but also enjoyable. Right? Yves Frère 00:25:21 Yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:21 Yeah. Um, Yves Frère 00:25:22 And smart always has like the, the aura of technology. Yeah. Uh, and I agree to that, but technology has to be a means to get to a, a point we can create a, really a healthy and enjoyable, uh, uh, city instead of technology as an end goal. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:42 Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Uh, yeah, I say that often as well that, um, we use technology when it makes sense and when it's really needed. Um, but not overusing it right. Yeah. For everything. Sometimes, sometimes the answer is simple, simple, so, um, yeah. So, yeah. Thank you so much for that. And yeah. Thank you really Yves for coming onto the podcast today. Um, everyone, every time I talk with you all at the mobility lab, I only get more and more interested in what organizations like yours can do, and I'm really excited to see the progress and all the new pilots and technologies that come out in the coming years as well. Um, so yeah. Thank you Yves. Yves Frère 00:26:25 Yeah. Thank you for having me. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:26:26 Yeah, our pleasure. Um, and to all of our listeners, don't forget, you can always create a free account on bable-smartcities.eu and to, you can find out a lot about smart city projects, solutions, implementations. Uh, so yeah. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

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