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SMMT Future Mobility Challenge

Highlights from SMMT Future Mobility 2019

Are you a start-up, a scale-up or an SME with cutting-edge solutions to some of the problems that impede the seamless and efficient movement of people and goods? Do you have innovative ideas that can help redefine the future of mobility and the automotive industry?

Back by popular demand following the resounding success of 2018’s inaugural edition, the SMMT Future Mobility Challenge enabled start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs to make innovative ideas and solutions discoverable to five of the world’s largest and most recognisable automotive brands: Bosch, Ford, Honda, Toyota and Volvo Cars.

SMMT invited start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs to pitch innovative ideas and solutions to address eight key mobility challenges of the future. Those with the best solutions were shortlisted and invited to meet with, and pitch live, to the five major brands at a one-day event in London on 17 October 2019.

This was not another start-up competition. Successful start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs were able to seriously negotiate a range of bespoke partnership opportunities, ranging from access to world-class mentoring, incubation facilities and live pilot sandboxes, to unparalleled routes to market and investment.


The Challenges

  • Challenge 1: Generating insights and creating value from mobility data
    Mobility data – whether they are derived from private vehicles, users’ journeys and preferences, or urban transport systems and city infrastructure – can potentially yield insights that spawn innovative customer propositions and monetisation opportunities. We’re looking for solutions that can help unlock that potential. For example:
    • How can different mobility data be combined, ideally on a platform, to create integrated and multi-modal customer propositions?
    • How can on-board and off-board vehicle data be combined with users’ data (e.g. from smartphones) and other data sources to create value for the customer?
    • What are some InsurTech solutions that are flexible and can be personalised for the customer’s mobility needs?
    • What are some FinTech solutions that can deliver integrated, seamless billing and payment (e.g. multi-modal services, fuel, EV charging, parking)?
    Challenge 2: Innovative solutions for intelligent fleets
    Intelligently managing and optimising fleets will be crucial to the success of mobility service providers of the future, as is supporting client fleet operators and drivers with value-added services. We’re looking for solutions that will not only accurately predict where and when a customer needs a vehicle, but also enable the delivery of the desired vehicle when needed and offer users enhanced, personalised services. For example:
    • How can mobility service providers build an intelligent fleet that ensures high vehicle utilisation through AI-driven demand-supply prediction and efficient load balancing?
    • Beyond existing fleet telematics offerings, what new data solutions can add value by integrating mobile service personnel and vehicles more effectively with central operations to optimise total business objectives?
    • In the context of commercial fleets, how can fleet operators monitor and support drivers’ wellbeing in a manner most likely to gain acceptance?
    • In the context of commercial fleets, how can fleet operators and small and medium sized businesses improve the productivity of fleets and employees?
    • What are some solutions that can help reduce the risk of fleet vandalism?
    • How can we reduce the environmental footprint of fleets without necessarily switching en masse to electric vehicles?
    Challenge 3: Urban mobility solutions for future cities
    The challenges cities face are well known, from congestion and poor air quality to spatial constraints and poor public transport connectivity. We’re looking for solutions that will make cities more attractive places to live, work and play through creating affordable and deliverable urban mobility solutions. For example:
    • How can we better use data to tackle congestion, improve air quality, prioritise road use, solve the parking challenge, and design efficient passenger pick-up and drop-off systems?
    • How can we provide affordable and commercially viable integrated transport services for people in areas underserved by public transport, the aged or those with disabilities?
    • How can we create scalable and commercially viable propositions for active mobility (e.g. pedal bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters) to promote healthy lifestyles, reduce congestion and as part of multi-modal journeys?
    Challenge 4: New ownership, shared and on-demand mobility models
    While some customers will continue to own cars in the traditional way, others may wish explore new models of ownership or opt for access to a flexible service. There are yet others who prefer car-sharing, ride-sharing or ride-hailing services. We believe mobility is for everyone, the customer’s way. We’re therefore looking for solutions and new business models that can help us become a single platform for existing and prospective customers’ mobility needs. For example:
    • What are some innovative Car-as-a-Service or Mobility-as-a-Service business models that are different to those already in the market?
    • How can we create a platform, complete with an app and payment mechanism, for a flexible multi-car subscription model?
    • What are some new and potentially scalable fractional vehicle ownership or rental/leasing propositions?
    Challenge 5: Beyond the car: creating new services and delivering superior customer experiences
    The future is about more than just the car. Enhancing the core offering with complementary services that customers value can be the difference between winning, or retaining, and losing a customer. We also want to go out of our way to make communication with customers clear and transparent, choices plentiful and flexible, the sales process and aftersales care superior, and the experience with our products or services outstanding and perhaps even unexpectedly delightful. We’re looking for solutions that will enable us to create new and superior customer experiences that are underpinned by efficient business processes and go far beyond just the vehicle. For example:
    • Thinking beyond just the car, what are some innovative and complementary services that customers may value?
      How can we provide a seamless and delightful experience to customers at all stages of the customer lifecycle (pre-sales, sales, product use, aftersales)?
    • How can augmented/virtual reality and remote services help us create new customer experiences?
    • What are some industrial IoT and blockchain solutions that can genuinely contribute to driving backend operational efficiency?
    Challenge 6: New connected and in-car services
    The majority of new cars sold today are ‘connected’ in some form. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the market is quite saturated with connected car apps and services of various types, serving various purposes. We’re looking for something new, ideally something out of the box, something that may surprise even ourselves. They may include the following, but should not be an offering already in the market:
    • Location-based services
    • Infotainment and content services
    • Real-time traffic information
    • Journey management
    • In-car productivity tools
    • On-demand mobility services integration
    • Remote services including one time access, diagnostics and predictive maintenance
    • Monetisable telematics services
    Additionally, we’re interested in how we can improve vehicle cabin comfort and passenger health and wellbeing.
    Challenge 7: Automated driving technologies for on-road and off-road vehicles
    While new mobility services will shape how people move around in the future, we have not forgotten an integral piece of the future mobility jigsaw – the physical asset itself. Fair to say, without vehicles there is no mobility. Some vehicles will be privately owned, others will operate in shared fleets. They are likely to include increasing levels of automation. We’re looking for automated driving technology solutions in the following areas that are new or innovative, and not already common in the market:
    • High-resolution near-field sensors with high environmental resistance
    • High-accuracy, high-definition positioning technology
    • Advanced vision and imaging technology
    • Advanced vehicle safety technology
    • Innovative cyber security solutions and quantum computing
    Challenge 8: E-mobility solutions
    An important measure in driving market uptake of electric vehicles is addressing the concerns of prospective and new EV users. Common concerns include range anxiety, inadequate charging infrastructure, the lack of clarity on charging costs, upfront and running costs of an EV, and how EVs may suit people’s mobility needs. So that EV users can better engage with the technology and get the most out of it, we’re looking for solutions that utilise data generated by EVs to clearly demonstrate the technology’s benefits and help users make informed usage decisions. For example:
    • What digital solutions can help demonstrate the benefits of EVs to users by presenting in an intuitive manner historical trip information (e.g. distance, duration, energy consumption) and battery state of charge?
    • How can vehicle data be utilised to help plug-in hybrid users understand their consumption patterns, such as average percentage of battery usage versus fuel consumption, total electric miles driven and average mpg?
    • How can EV charging information be best presented to users in a way that is useful and actionable? E.g. time, date, location and duration of charge; plug-in and plug-out events; rate of charge from charging station; battery state of charge at start and end of a charging event; location, type and availability of charging stations.
    Additionally, we’re also looking for advanced e-mobility technologies in the following areas that are not already common in the market:
    • Advanced energy storage technologies for vehicles and charging stations
    • Energy efficient technologies for electric drivetrains (BEVs, PHEVs, hybrids, fuel cell EVs) and climate control systems
      Advanced battery management systems and energy distribution technologies
    • Innovative bi-directional charging technologies
    • Carbon capture technologies for internal combustion engine

  • A successful partnership is based on a bespoke arrangement that all partners are comfortable with. Your needs may vary depending on the maturity of your ideas, solutions and business.

    Here’s how you can benefit from partnering with the five automotive brands.

    Route to market
    Many start-ups or scale-ups are looking for a first customer, or in the case of SMEs maybe a first major customer. The brands involved in this initiative are major global businesses with a large pool of existing and prospective customers across multiple business segments. Your solutions may have more than one application in a given segment, or could be extended to become viable propositions in adjacent businesses. The depth of experience and vast scale and reach of these brands mean they can also help develop and nurture your business to quickly scale and tap into their global markets.

    Incubation, acceleration, piloting
    Not every business is ready go to market just yet. Your ideas may need further incubation to become viable propositions. Or, your solutions may need to be piloted or tested in live customer environments to accelerate their commercial readiness.

    This initiative can offer successful start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs access to first-class mentorship, profound market and consumer insights from leading experts, data, R&D capabilities, and technical and marketing resources via UK-based incubators, innovation labs and accelerators that have extensive global reach. You will also benefit from opportunities to pilot a product or service through live sandboxes and testbeds.

    You may be looking for funding to catapult your idea to the next stage, be it proof-of-concept, prototyping or delivering a minimum viable product. Or you may be ready to commercialise your solutions, or even grow your fledgling business. Subject to the right terms and conditions, the automotive companies are ready to invest stage-agnostic, though the majority of investments are expected to fall within Series A or B.

    xit path/acquisition

    There may be a possibility that your business has reached considerable maturity such that you are looking for someone else to take it to the next stage. Or you may just want to simply cash in and pursue other interests. Subject to the right terms and conditions, the automotive companies are open to acquiring a majority stake or the business outright.

  • Is my business right for this event?
    This initiative is open to start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs from any sector that can help the five automotive brands redefine the future of mobility through ideas and solutions that address the eight defined mobility challenges. It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey or how mature your business is. You may have only an idea or be seeking to deliver a proof-of-concept. Or you may have a prototype, or a minimum viable product. You may even have an early stage product or service already in the market. If you feel you have something to offer and could benefit from partnering with the five brands, then we want to hear from you.

    Why can only start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs can apply?
    The automotive brands involved in this initiative would like to discover more hidden gems from among the start-up, scale-up and SME community. If you are a large business, chances are you are relatively more discoverable than start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs, and your offerings are already known to the automotive industry.

    Can I apply even if my business is not based in the UK?
    This initiative is open internationally, so it doesn’t matter where your business is based. However, if you are shortlisted for live pitching on 17 October, you will need to ensure you are able to travel to London and be responsible for your own visa arrangements. SMMT does not provide funding for your travel and accommodation.

    I’m based abroad. If shortlisted, can I pitch via video conference?
    It is not possible to pitch via video conference. Every shortlisted Innovator should pitch on an equal footing. Allowing some to pitch via video conference would be unfair to others who make an effort to turn up to pitch live.

    Is this another start-up competition?
    No. This event is intended to spawn new partnerships between start-ups/scale-ups/SMEs and the five individual automotive brands. It is an opportunity to discover ideas and, if there is mutual interest, discuss a potential bespoke partnership.

    How will my idea or IP be protected?
    You are free to negotiate bespoke IP ownership arrangements with the individual automotive brands. In terms of the live pitching, all the sessions are confidential. Each start-up, scale-up or SME will be pitching to an automotive brand one at a time, so there will not be anyone else in the room apart from you and the automotive brand you are pitching to. You are welcome to bring along your bespoke non-disclosure agreement document and request the automotive brand(s) to sign it before you start pitching.

    Will applying online mean I am guaranteed a place to pitch on 17 October?
    There will be a screening and shortlisting process where the information you provide on the online application form will be used to match your ideas or solutions to what each of the five automotive brands is looking for. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch their ideas or solutions live on 17 October 2019.

    Can I choose which of the five automotive brands I want to pitch to?
    No. You can choose which of the eight defined mobility challenges your ideas or solutions can potentially address. Each of the eight challenges is owned by more than one of the five automotive brands, so there is a likelihood you may end up pitching to more than one brand.

    Can I pitch to all five automotive brands?
    It depends on which or how many challenges your ideas or solutions can address. Each of the eight challenges is owned by more than one of the five automotive brands, so there is a likelihood you may end up pitching to more than one brand, or indeed all five brands.

    How will I know who I will be pitching to?
    If you are shortlisted you will receive a formal invitation to pitch along with information on which brands you will be pitching to.

    I have more than one idea or solution. Do I need to make separate applications?
    It depends whether each of your ideas or solutions address the same or different challenges. For example, if you have separate solutions that can actually solve the same problem, put them in one application. If, however your solutions are aimed at solving different problems, put them in separate applications.

    What is the pitching format?
    If you are shortlisted to pitch, you will receive pitching guidelines that will help you prepare your pitch(es). As a hint, the format is likely to be similar to the questions you are asked in Section 2 of the application form. You will be given more time than a standard 120-second elevator pitch; the average amount of time you are likely to have with any one automotive brand is between 12 and 20 minutes. The exact amount of time will depend on the number of pitches scheduled for the day. All these will be clearly set out in the pitching guidelines.

    If I’m shortlisted, how many people from my business can attend?
    Attendees will be limited to two representatives per company. However, if you wish to take up the option to exhibit, you are welcome to bring an additional colleague to look after your exhibition stand.

    Who should I contact if I have further questions?
    Please email your questions to


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Application process

If you are interested in participating in the next Future Mobility Challenge, please get in touch with us at 

Future Mobility Challenge 2019 Highlights



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