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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

  • 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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