Transport Challenge: Deutsche Bahn and Data Pitch ask startups to change the future of transport

by Mari Anixter

Editor’s note: This is a deadline sensitive competition. Start-ups have until 1st October to apply.

German rail company, Deutsche Bahn AG, is making its data available to start-up businesses and SMEs as part of Data Pitch, a new European Commission-funded initiative which is supporting open innovation with data.

Deutsche Bahn AG is a largest railway operator and infrastructure owner in Europe and the second-largest transport company in the world. It carries about two billion passengers each year and operates, via its subdivisions, in 12 European countries.

The company is seeking to work with start-ups to develop new products and services and to generate ideas which could change the future of the transport industry.

Deutsche Bahn AG is one of five organisations working with Data Pitch, providing data to help tackle its own company challenges, and those in wider industry. The other companies are:

Portuguese retailer Sonae, German data management provider Uniserv GmbH and Italian big data and machine learning company SpazioDati. Also taking part in the programme is imin, an open data scale-up in the UK working with physical activity data, and a graduate success story from the previous ODINE programme.

Start-ups accepted by Data Pitch Accelerator will benefit from funding and mentoring opportunities, including:

    • Investment up to €100,000, equity free;
    • Introduction to business partners;
    • Peer-networking and support;
    • Introduction to investors;
    • Access to technology and datasets, as well as training and advice by Data Pitch experts.

Transport is one of many sectors where the improved flow of data can fuel innovation. A paper published by the Transport Systems Catapult in March 2017, using data from the Open Data Institute and Deloitte highlighted the importance of data sharing to unlock a potential £14bn of benefits from new innovations by 2025, and called for a framework for shared data to help bring about improvements.

Deutsche Bahn is Europe’s largest railway operator and infrastructure owner, and the second largest transport company in the world after Deutsche Post/DHL. It operates in over 130 countries and in 2010 DB Group acquired Arriva, which runs bus and rail companies across Europe, including the UK. It also operates Chiltern Railways, Cross Country, Grand Central and Northern Rail and London Overground.

Onno Szillis, DB Mindbox

Data will be made available from many of its subsidiaries, including bike and car share programmes Call-a-bike and Flinkster; logistics and shipment data for containers from DB Schenker; car park occupancy data from DB Bahnpark and data relating to its rail services from DB Cargo and Fernverkehr (long distance trains).

Data Pitch start-ups can use the data provided by Deutsche Bahn in combination with datasets released by other transport organisations in Europe to develop apps or algorithms which can analyse customer need and bring about real innovations in delivery, changing the way in which customers use transport systems.

Data Pitch is the first ever data accelerator to bring together organisations from all over Europe that own data and are willing to share it, with start-ups who can help solve their business problems with new ideas.

Onno Szillis is head of DB mindbox, Deutsche Bahn’s co-working space in Berlin where start-ups and employees collaborate on innovations, in particular those based on digital technologies, for all of Deutsche Bahn’s business segments.

He says, “With Deutsche Bahn data we want to support start-ups, developers and creative thinkers to build cutting-edge digital products and services in the transport sector. Together we will shape the future of smart mobility. Data Pitch is a unique opportunity for start-ups to work on innovative ideas and get helpful financial support. With the funding, data and know-how from our experts the teams are able to realise their projects.

“We are excited to work in collaboration with Data Pitch and share our Deutsche Bahn data treasures for such an innovative program. Data Pitch helps us to reach out to start-ups to co-work with Deutsche Bahn and we are looking forward to seeing many great applications.”

Heidi Lindvall at Data Pitch, says:“We are delighted to be working with Deutsche Bahn for this challenge….

The transport sector generates a wide range of data and finding new ways to analyse and utilise it has the potential to create smarter transport systems, improving the quality of experience for customers and creating substantial cost and efficiency savings.

Heidi Lindvall, Data Pitch

“Data Pitch is creating something new and exciting which will hopefully lead to a more open approach between large corporations and start-ups. It is a great opportunity for innovative small companies to develop their ideas with the benefit of mentoring and support, and to gain unprecedented access to datasets from participating providers.

In return the providers will be able to explore new ways of maximising the commercial potential of their data and generating new ideas.”

Data Pitch is being delivered by the Open Data Institute, The University of Southampton, Portuguese Innovation company Beta-I, and French data marketplace platform Dawex.

More information about the Transport Challenge can be viewed here. The Data Pitch accelerator programme will begin in February 2018 and each start-up will be on the virtual programme for six months. Eligible applicants must be SMEs or start-ups based in the European Union or Horizon 2020 associated countries, and be working as an individual company rather than a consortium. Applications must be received by 1 October 2017.

Companies are encouraged to apply here.

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Mari AnixterMari Anixter is the Managing Editor for Innovation Excellence. Based in Chicago, she serves as director of community, digital editor, and content curator for the global IX community. Please follow @mari_IX and @IXchat

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