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EcoMotion Week: a startup scouting event in Israel

Israel, the "Startup Nation"
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PostedSEPT. 21, 2023
Words byKeolis
    As it does every year, Keolis traveled to Tel Aviv to scout the most promising Israeli startups and attend one of the biggest industry events dedicated to smart mobility: EcoMotion.

    Startup scouting at the heart of Keolis’ innovation strategy

    Startup scouting is one of the Keolis Group's preferred avenues for developing its innovation strategy. This scouting activity allows Keolis to identify, evaluate and select startups to collaborate with. This process helps Keolis stay on the cutting edge in its areas of expertise. Some examples of these collaborations include: a 100% accessible passenger experience that Keolis offers with NaviLens, a project to change behaviors through dynamic nudges with Gokind and new mobility solutions offered with Urbanloop.

    Matthieu RÉMY, Head of Open Innovation, Data & Digital

    Matthieu Rémy

    Head of Open Innovation, Data & Digital

    "Thanks to the agility of startups, which are able to quickly adapt their value proposition to Keolis' targets and our customers' practices, these partnerships form a key component of Keolis' innovation approach."

    Context: EcoMotion​ Week

    EcoMotion is an event that Keolis regularly attends and which has already led to strong partnerships with the Israeli innovation ecosystem, such as with the carsharing startup VIA, Keolis’ preferred partner for transportation on demand (TOD).

    The country's economic and political situation is impacting on the startup nation. According to a survey conducted by the Startup Nation Policy Institute (SNPI) in the first quarter of 2023, investment in Israeli high-tech since the beginning of the year has reached a figure of $1.7 billion, the lowest quarterly amount since 2018 

    This trend follows a record year in 2021, with almost $26 billion raised in funds. The year 2022, with $13.9 billion, was already a mixed bag: a first half in line with 2021/ a second half with a dramatic fall in the amounts raised.

    For Israeli tech, it's the end of the cheap and easy money. But Tech companies are still dynamic especially in the mobility sector, which will be meeting again this year at the EcoMotion trade fair to discuss innovation. 

    EcoMotion Week 2023 - Logo
    EcoMotion Week 2023 - Logo


    startups at EcoMotion 2023





    Autonomous mobility and electric vehicles: two innovation priorities at EcoMotion

    Two subjects which concentrate the majority of fund-raising and Keynotes at the show:  

    - the autonomous mobility market, led by Mobileye, is drawing in its wake other players present at the show: Innoviz, Arbe, Makalu (new generation of Lidars), Imagry, etc. 

    - the electric vehicle market also had a strong presence: Batteri (wire or wireless charging robot for parking), Silib, Addionics & Store Dot (next gen. batteries), Electreon, Algolion (monitoring), Hive Power (smart charging), Carrar (battery thermal regulation to optimise battery life), Make my Day (route planner for EVs), Solor (solar paint that can be applied by manufacturers from traditional industries on different platforms). 

    For the first time, the show is also hosting non-Israeli startups (Hive Power for instance). 

    Picture of EcoMotion's booths
    Picture of EcoMotion's booths
    Launch of the EcoMotion Week

    Scouting for value-added startups for our operator business

    Over and above these major issues for the evolution of mobility, we were able, as we do every year, to meet startups with added value for our business as a public transport operator.   

    Batteries are a major stake for a number of reasons, including their performance, to limit the impact on operations - vehicle autonomy and charging times in particular. Israeli startups are very active in the field of new-generation batteries. The technologies presented are at various stages of maturity, but are promising and are mostly supported by major energy players and automakers: 3D electrodes, Silicone, ultra-fast recharging technology... We'll be following their progress over the coming months. 

    Beyond the battery itself, we have also identified interesting solutions for monitoring and fire prevention, as well as technologies for extending battery life. 

    The future of electric charging seems to be wireless, at least for certain uses, with efficiency levels now similar to those of conventional wired charging. 

    EcoMotion, a major gathering for mobility stakeholders
    EcoMotion, a major gathering for mobility stakeholders

    Solutions for the benefit of the driver

    In addition to ever more efficient Lidars, we met with startups who are developing solutions for the driver that differ from conventional ADAS, which are sometimes perceived as intrusive and liable to generate an additional cognitive load. The principle of these software-based and AI-driven solutions is to analyze the driver's behavior in real-time as well as in aggregate, providing them with useful and targeted feedback to improve their performance, eco-driving, and passenger comfort. 

    New, less intrusive solutions
    Light bulb icon
    Picture of a keynote during EcoMotion

    Streamlining traffic, prioritizing shared mobility and sustainable transportation... There are also numerous operational solutions using artificial intelligence to manage traffic and enhance traffic conditions in the city. 

    And what about passengers? What about apps? Not much, in reality, at the EcoMotion expo. Not that startups aren't active in these areas, but in this startup nation, they no longer fit squarely within the scope of innovation. The concept of "tech" is central, and these apps are no longer perceived as innovative technologies, even though they may be from a usage perspective. 

    Picture of the Mobility 360 booth at EcoMotion 2023
    Picture of the Mobility 360 booth at EcoMotion 2023

    And in 2022?

    One year ago, Keolis was already present at the 2022 EcoMotion Week. This participation had allowed the Group to identify key market trends in mobility and scout several promising startups.

    Startup scouting on the energy transition at EcoMotion Week 

    Keolis’ aim in startup scouting at EcoMotion is to identify young companies with specific business profiles in order to learn more about the innovative solutions they offer.

    Hydrogen production and storage solutions for sustainable energy independence was a key innovation strand at this year’s EcoMotion Week. For some startups, the time has come to scale up the use of hydrogen production processes, while for others the challenge is to develop storage solutions in order to fully harness hydrogen’s potential. One solution won the NASA Itech competition and has been selected by the Plug&Play incubation program.

    Aerial view of Tel Aviv
    Aerial view of Tel Aviv
    Matthieu Rémy and Arnaud Julien represented Keolis at EcoMotion 2022.

    Matthieu Rémy and Arnaud Julien represented Keolis at EcoMotion 2022.

    Electric vehicles remain a major topic at EcoMotion, notably the challenge of producing batteries that are efficient, cost-effective and sustainable. Startup scouting in this area allowed Keolis representatives to meet a promising young company that recently raised €10.2M to develop the next generation of sodium batteries, which promise to be a more sustainable and cost-effective technology in the long term than existing batteries.

    The main obstacles to expanding the deployment of electric vehicles are the size, weight and price of batteries as well as their range of operation. To overcome these issues, one startup has developed a dynamic charging solution based on induction. In this way, vehicles can be recharged during their journey, which reduces the amount of space required for on-board batteries and cuts vehicle costs. It also helps to balance out peaks in energy demand throughout the day. The company is currently speeding up its expansion in Israel and Europe.​

    Electric mobility remains a major innovation topic. © Roger Starnes Sr
    Electric mobility remains a major innovation topic. © Roger Starnes Sr

    Startup scouting for the smart city


    This round of startup scouting allowed Keolis to discover several solutions that respond to a major challenge in urban mobility: managing the flow of traffic at intersections. This public safety issue is becoming increasingly important to transportation players, especially given the need to prioritize public transportation and non-motorized mobility on public roadways. One of the difficulties involved in implementing new solutions to issues like this is the need to roll them out on a medium to large scale in order to establish transport corridors and fully measure their benefits. EcoMotion Week identified some initial responses to this new challenge, including solutions for analyzing the modal split of traffic flows and for dynamically controlling traffic signals. 

    Keolis' startup scouting at EcoMotion also gave insight into the new innovation priorities of cities, such as the development of personal electric cars and related services such as solutions for charging electric vehicles. One new technology, for example, offers the option to book a fast-charging session by mobile app and a vehicle equipped with batteries will then come and recharge your car as you work or do your shopping. Another app, linked to your calendar, can guide you throughout your day in order to optimize where and when you recharge your vehicle so that you never run out of battery.

    Icon of an electric car

    The development of the individual electric car and the associated services are among the new innovation priorities of cities.

    Another urban mobility solution spotted through the startup scouting: as parking space becomes increasingly scarce in cities, a new app invites drivers to optimize their "last mile after Waze" by directing them to areas where they have the best chance of finding a parking space. Coupled with Internet of Things (IoT) technology, the solution will become even more precise and indicate available spaces to drivers.​

    Bicycles are becoming a permanent fixture in travelers’ habits and are becoming more important every year at EcoMotion. A brand-new startup that designs compact and collapsible cargo bikes that riders can carry on to public transport or elevators aims to make it easier to include cycling as part of a multimodal journey, whether personal or professional.

    Safety and operational excellence: a top priority at EcoMotion


    Among the forty startups scouted​ at EcoMotion, many innovations were found which were relevant to Keolis' activities.

    Used in combination with an ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System), a new solution analyzes driver behavior to prevent risky situations (such as distraction or fatigue) thanks to a device combining computer vision and onboard AI. Testing the driver's ability to operate a vehicle before starting work can also prevent certain risky situations.

    One of the companies identified through the startup scouting proposes a solution that allows drivers to evaluate their own ability to drive through a self-assessment process requiring drivers to complete a series of tests on an app and for immediate results.

    Overview of EcoMotion 2022


    startups met at EcoMotion 2022.

    Bus and truck driver retention are also major issues for the mobility industry. New solutions now offer a response with an app that encourages drivers to meet goals through incentive mechanisms. These goals (eco-driving, punctuality, customer satisfaction, etc.) also help constitute a shared management framework for all – both drivers and managers – while strengthening team unity.

    Computer vision and artificial intelligence are also used to develop solutions for identifying dangerous situations. These solutions are becoming more and more precise and efficient, with some even able to analyze a series of images to "understand" the situation and alert the relevant department.

    This startup scouting at EcoMotion Week also allowed Keolis to identify several interesting young companies in cybersecurity, which currently represents a major challenge for the activities of transport operators. Cyber2.0, which develops a solution tested on the Keolis Hyderabad network, is proud to be the only cybersecurity startup to organize its own hackathon. The competition offers an award of $100,000 to anyone who can hack the solution – in all, 5,500 hackers tried, but no-one could break the code.

    Bus and truck driver retention are major issues for the mobility industry.
    Bus and truck driver retention are major issues for the mobility industry.
    Startups present at EcoMotion 2022.

    Startups present at EcoMotion 2022.

    EcoMotion Week on one hand, as well as a learning expedition


    Keolis also took the opportunity to carry out a learning expedition in the Tel Aviv area. This trip allowed Keolis to gain a better understanding of this promising ecosystem and its foundations.

    Social ties, the country's small size, long military service and a shared culture in the face of persistent conflicts in the region promote strong social and cultural cohesion.

    The country also encourages personal initiative and openness to others' ideas through an entrepreneurial culture that includes very little hierarchy (and this from a very young age, whether in education or in the army).

    There is also a strong connection between fundamental research in universities and potential applications through rapid technology transfer.

    Finally, the government invests massively in research in the early phases of project development, supporting researchers engaged in projects while taking on the financial risk.

    Tel Aviv by night

    Israel, the Startup Nation®, is a highly dynamic innovation ecosystem focused on technology and covering a wide range of sectors, including mobility. ​

    In order to qualify as a startup in Israel, you must work primarily in tech. The country also considers the digitization of processes as a form of continuous improvement.

    We conclude with three words that define the innovation dynamic in Tel Aviv:


    - Chutzpah: audacity, 

    - Rosh Gadol: openness and curiosity, 

    - Tachless: pragmatism.

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