An Innovative Signal from Karlsruhe
Awarding of the “Future Mobility Award” / The award goes to "BeeSonix"
Karlsruhe, Germany. As if by magic, relevant information appears on passengers’ smartphones as they travel by train. This is being implemented by a young start-up with its origins in Mannheim. It enables ultrasound communication between passenger announcements and a passenger’s mobile devices.
The keyword: “silent announcements”. To this end, the visionaries at “BeeSonix” use sound files containing sounds in the ultrasonic range and use the traditional announcements to convey additional information with added value. Travel information can be provided in a customised way; stops and vehicles are taking the next digital step, so to speak, “without the need for new hardware,” explains Waldemar Epple, CEO of the “automotive engineering network” (aen), and goes on to say “these ultrasound signals could also be rolled out in practice very quickly.”
“Future Mobility Award” from Karlsruhe
With so much in favour of this innovation, it is no wonder that “BeeSonix” have been awarded the “Future Mobility Award” for their work in May 2020 in Karlsruhe. This is the first award for sustainable mobility solutions for public transport. In Karlsruhe, there is a particular focus on research, applications, and start-ups. “The aim is to give innovative start-ups the opportunity to present their work and thus to make their ideas and creative solutions for public transport visible,” emphasises Sieglinde Walz, managing director of “aen”, with reference to the worldwide competition, which is now set to take place every two years during the IT-TRANS.
Intelligent solutions in public transport
The initiators of the award, “aen”, “Messe Karlsruhe”, “Nahverkehrs-praxis”, and Karlsruhe’s business development scheme, are calling on start-ups to submit appropriate concepts and projects to take part in the competition. “The range of topics submitted is very wide,” says Britta Wirtz, Managing Director of Messe Karlsruhe: “With the award, we would like to provide a platform where innovative ideas can be made more visible so that they receive the attention they deserve.”
Be it the concept, strategy, degree of innovation, relevance to society, potential for success, sustainability, benefits for passengers, or integration into existing systems: “It has been really difficult to evaluate the many interesting ideas and solutions,” says Annika Egloff-Schönen from “Nahverkehrs-praxis”. The 25 projects submitted were evaluated by a jury of experts with an entrepreneurial and scientific background. In the end, “BeeSonix” emerged as the winner: “This is a great honour for us,” exclaim Timo Häcker, Alexander Kowollik, and Birk Schweppe from the excellent start-up happily as they speak via video link.
In addition to the 5,000 euros in prize money, the award also includes a professional coaching programme and a meeting between investors and the start-up. Since the conference and trade fair have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the award ceremony has now been held online, but the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and Messe Karlsruhe will be giving all five finalists, “BeeSonix”, “MatchRider”, “Operibus”, “Rydies”, and “Twaice”, the chance to present themselves to the trade audience during the IT-TRANS in December.
Sustainable mobility solutions are in demand
Karlsruhe is sending a clear signal: in the city of Karl Benz, Karl Drais, and the “Test Field Autonomous Driving”, the “Future Mobility Award” is given to particularly sustainable mobility solutions for public transport. “The high quality and innovative approaches seen in the submissions meant that it was a challenge to evaluate them,” explains Michael Kaiser, Director of Karlsruhe’s business development scheme, and goes on to explain that “we are particular concerned with supporting start-ups along the way – especially against the background of the 'CE-Connector', an EU programme that is set to provide even more support for start-ups in the future.” Start-ups are seen as important drivers of innovation that will ensure the future prosperity of Central Europe. The “CE-Connector” project aims to increase the number of “business angels” and to improve investment competency.
“In these times, it is particularly important that innovations can be implemented,” says Lord Mayor Dr Frank Mentrup, emphasising the importance of the award for the city of Karlsruhe against the background of innovative mobility, start-ups, and the founders’ scene. A great idea could now also be implemented here. When it comes to creative and innovative partners, Karlsruhe is a good place to be, says Dr Mentrup and goes on to explain that the city has a very strong, active, well-connected start-up scene alongside numerous research institutes and universities. Particularly with new developments in one of the main fields of the future, Karlsruhe’s business development scheme and “aen” also act as initiators, mediators, and accelerators of innovations. They pool expert knowledge and accompany small and medium-sized companies and start-ups along the way so that they can also implement their innovations.