New tech start-ups and industry heavyweights partner to take on the future of mobility


  • SMMT assembles leading automotive brands and innovative start-ups for its annual Future Mobility Challenge to encourage collaboration with and within the sector.
  • Over 40 companies from nine different countries pitch for opportunities including mentoring, ideas incubation and investment, piloting, routes to market and acquisition.
  • Last year’s initiative saw five well-known automotive brands starting conversations with 18 small start-ups and SMEs with a view to investment or collaboration.

Thursday 17 October, 2019 Forty-three tech start-ups and SMEs are today coming together with five of the world’s leading motor industry brands, for the second annual cross-industry initiative to help shape the future of transport and mobility. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) Future Mobility Challenge, held this year at Plexal Innovation Centre at Here East in London, drives cross-sector collaboration between large and small businesses, with successful candidates securing new partnerships, mentorship and investment after an engaging day of pitching new initiatives to leading brands in the automotive sector.

Senior representatives from some of the biggest names in the automotive sector will hear pitches from 43 ambitious start-ups and SMEs from nine different countries. The candidates were shortlisted from 136 Challenge entries and invited to pitch innovative mobility solutions to representatives from Ford Mobility, Bosch, Toyota, and new participants this year – Honda and Volvo Car UK.

Last year’s participating automotive heavyweights – Ford Mobility, Bosch, Toyota, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW – ended up in discussion with 18 (39%) of the participating candidates with a view to partner or invest in their ideas. This year will see new ideas pitched, ranging from data solutions to digital applications for shared mobility, fleets and new subscription models, and from new cyber security solutions to AI in future vehicles. All innovations that could one day redefine the future of mobility and, indeed, the automotive sector.

David Skipp, Director of Partnerships & Innovation, Ford Mobility, said, “The Ford Mobility team built several valuable connections at the 2018 SMMT Future Mobility Challenge, and we’re looking forward to this year’s event. We are always keen to meet innovators in the mobility space who are interested to collaborate with us to change the way the world moves.”

Paul Craven, General Manager of Consumer Channel Development for Toyota (GB), said, “Toyota is continuously evolving and innovating as we transition to a true mobility company. We therefore fully support the SMMT at this Future Mobility Challenge event, and value the relationships we have developed from last year. We understand the benefit of forming partnerships with start-up businesses that are developing both immediate and future automotive solutions, but may be finding it difficult to gain a foothold in the industry.”

Dennis Clark, Managing Director Strategic Venture Partnerships for Honda Innovations, said, “Honda Innovations is dedicated to collaborating with innovative start-ups across the UK and globally. We drive transformative collaboration across all areas of Honda, and we’re excited to deepen our support of the innovation ecosystem in the UK by sponsoring the SMMT Future Mobility Challenge this year.

Arun Srinivasan, Executive Vice President and Head of Mobility Solutions, Bosch UK, said, “The world of mobility is changing rapidly. New technologies offer opportunities in mobility services that can help increase safety, reduce traffic congestion and create healthier, more liveable city environments. Connecting with UK start-ups is an important way for us to continue to drive the entrepreneurial spirit that was instilled by our founder Robert Bosch. We realise not only the value that it can bring to these start-ups by supporting with our breadth of knowledge and global resources but we can also learn from these small, nimble product technology creators ourselves, adopting the ‘start-up mentality’ into our own corporate culture. To this extent, we have been setting up a suitable ecosystem within urban mobility that supports co-innovation and co-creation through collaboration with our partners at our London Connectory. Mastering mobility challenges with our partners will be key to success for the future of mobility, which is why participation in events like the SMMT Future Mobility Challenge is so important.”

Darren Anvoner, Consumer Digital Manager of Volvo Car UK, said, “Being involved in the SMMT Future Mobility Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for Volvo Car UK. Volvo is a progressive, innovative company, and we’re really excited to meet like-minded start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs to hear their proposed solutions to future mobility challenges.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “After the success of last year’s SMMT’s Future Mobility Challenge, it’s great to see even more applications from new businesses across the world. SMMT’s Future Mobility Challenge provides the perfect opportunity for automotive industry leaders and innovative technology SMEs to collaborate. The UK’s hard-won reputation as a hub for innovation and emerging new technologies means we can continue to attract some of the best and brightest from across the world to this event. We are on the cusp of a transport revolution, and UK automotive is ready for the journey.”


During the sessions, start-ups and SMEs will pitch solutions to eight key innovation opportunities:


  1. Generating insights and creating value from mobility data – creating customer value through, for example, seamless payments at fuel forecourts and charge points or integrated insurance services.
  2. Innovative solutions for intelligent fleets – innovative solutions that go beyond existing telematics offerings, potentially helping operators to optimise fleets, reduce their environmental footprint or support drivers’ wellbeing.
  3. Urban mobility solutions for future cities – smart use of data to help tackle challenges such as congestion, parking and access to transport services, or deliver integrated propositions to promote active mobility.
  4. New ownership, shared and on-demand mobility models – solutions to identify and deliver new, flexible models of car ownership or sharing via a single platform to bring mobility to more people.
  5. Creating new and superior customer experiences in the age of hyper convenience – using augmented or virtual reality and industrial IoT and blockchain solutions to deliver efficient business processes and premium and lifestyle customer propositions.
  6. New connected and in-car services – unique solutions to unlock greater potential from connectivity such as location services, real-time traffic information or remote services including, for example, predictive maintenance.
  7. Automated driving technologies for on- and off-road vehicles – new solutions for everything from artificial intelligence and machine learning, to automated driving, glass and display technologies, audio, and cyber security solutions.
  1. E-mobility solutions – advanced e-mobility technologies to facilitate intuitive driving, improve battery usage and easily provide information on charging facilities, as well as never-before-seen technologies to drive energy efficiency for electric drivetrains and optimise energy storage for EVs and charging stations.


Automation Update