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November 2017

by: Ed Frank and Jason Weiss

On the road to find innovation

Point A to B and all the way to Z - Over 25,000 kilometers traveled

on the search for mobility innovation.   

From the canals of Amsterdam to the Opera house in Vienna, the Bosphorus in Istanbul to the old City of Jerusalem and many cities in between, we met with entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas that will change the way we drive. Over a four month period Axis Innovation worked closely together with Ford Motor Co. to travel across Europe, Israel and Turkey in a 9 country road trip to find startups with innovative apps for the driving experience and to make their apps “Driveable”.

Where does one look for the future of mobility? While most of the attention in mobility has gone to autonomous vehicles, in the most optimistic scenarios it will still make many years until it becomes a common mode of transportation. Therefore another, and perhaps more urgent question arises for car companies - how can we improve the daily driving experience for people today? Touch screen consoles are now standard in passenger and commercial vehicles and the range of apps and services are growing.  

For drivers today who are constantly on their phone, a critical issue for car companies is giving them the same enjoyable experience they have with apps on their phone, but in a safe way built for a driver. As a result, Ford created the AppLink system to ease the introduction of new apps into the car for drivers and use their built in touchscreen as a platform for developers to engage with drivers. Through our scouting across 2 continents, we met and found hundreds of incredible apps with innovative ideas to improve navigation, safety, productivity, parking, music, ride sharing and much more.   

18 teams from 10 countries were selected and participated in the final event at the Eiffel Tower in Paris in October. These companies range from 2 people in a co-working space to startups with over $30 million invested. For an industry which sometimes takes years to integrate new technologies into vehicle, some of the startups presenting are already in the process of being integrated into the Ford AppLink system.  

When it comes to finding innovation today, it is impossible to do it from only one location or via emails and conference calls. Startups are global and each ecosystem produces its own unique entrepreneurs bringing new ideas from their perspective. What we have seen in Tel Aviv is very different from Vienna or Istanbul or Paris, yet every city has its unique attributes and brought companies to the challenge. That’s why we knew that to find the apps that will change driving, we had to hit the road - go out and visit the top ecosystems ourselves. This strategy certainly takes more time and effort, but the payoff with the relationships made and results accomplished are incomparable. For us at Axis Innovation, we believe these roadshows and events connecting corporations will continue to grow, and look forward to being a key part of it for all stakeholders.