As part of their grand prize package, the winning companies of CoMotion LA & The LA Cleantech Incubator’s 2019 LA New Mobility Challenge spent an exciting week of February in the UK. There, they met with the Department for Transport, London & Partners before heading to the Connected Places Catapult (CPC), and then the West Midlands. Along with their prize money, the winners—Xtelligent, SomEV, Zeal, and Maxwellian—were given an unprecedented opportunity to network with the mobility’s top investors and other innovative companies and creators. Tim Gribaudi, Director of the CoMotion Initiative, who accompanied the delegation, said, “It was a real pleasure to accompany the winners of our startup challenge to meet the British mobility ecosystem.”
Meetings with the UK’s Catapults was a great place to start: the UK Catapults work much like accelerators, with a Connected Places Catapult, a Manufacturing Catapult, and an Energy Catapult, and more, meant to launch (or catapult) a startup to success. The NMC winners were provided real insight into how incipient companies such as themselves could leverage UK investments to increase their capabilities and grow their businesses.
On Monday the 10th, the winners headed to London for the Smart Mobility Conference. There, they joined London & Partners at the recently launched event to hear from industry experts regarding all the innovative partnerships and opportunities they’d be afforded in London. The NMC winners were able to learn from and network with speakers from Transport for London (TfL), such as Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, and TfL’s Director Michael Hurwitz, along with Bosch, New London Architecture, and more.
The next day saw the challenge champions starting at London’s Department for Transport, hearing from their Director of Energy, Technology and Innovation Richard Bruce (also an LANMC judge) who shared their strategy and vision, before moving to the Connected Places Catapult (CPC). Across those locations, they were able to focus on the broader initiatives the UK had to offer. While at the CPC, the winners learned how the Catapult partnered with the British Consulate in Los Angeles to bring a UK delegation to CoMotion LA ’19. The CPC lead a discussion on the work they do and how they can help foster the growth of burgeoning businesses in the technology sector. There were also presentations from UK start-ups on what it was actually like to work with these specific funding mechanisms.
That Wednesday, the LANMC winners attended the MOVE Conference, joining the scrum of other attendees, exhibitors, and speakers on site. Continuing their whirlwind journey across the UK, the delegates then spent Thursday in the West Midlands. This provided them the opportunity to see firsthand how other cities are working to deploy 21st century transportation technology; Warwick itself is also home to the West Midlands Future of Mobility Zone. The NMC winners visited the University of Warwick, as the school is a leader for advanced transportation technology, in regards to batteries, intelligent automotive technology, and much more.
Natasha George, CEO & Co-Founder of SomEV, said, “The trip was an incredible opportunity for SomEV to engage with mobility stakeholders and the startup ecosystem in the UK! We made some fruitful connections, but the highlight of the trip for us was the visit to the University of Warwick. We got to hear about the remarkable research and innovation in the transportation space and even got to tour several of their research labs. It was absolutely inspiring to see such rich innovation happening in a collaborative and supportive environment! We would never have known about any of this, had it not been for CoMotion LA and the British Consulate General, LA, partnering together to provide us with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
After Warwick, the last stop of the trip saw the winners arrive at TechInvest in London. TechInvest targets groundbreaking technologies to better connect capital to communities through the use of IoT, 5G, wireless technologies and more; the NMC winners were able to meet even more investors and other startups working within this particular ecosystem.
Then, it was Friday, and the amazing week in the UK drew to an end. The winners took some more time to explore the beautiful city of London, and to follow up with any companies they connected with throughout the week. The LA New Mobility Challenge allowed several promising startups to make connections and network with investors they otherwise may have never had the chance to meet.
Michael Lim, Co-Founder of Xtelligent, said, “The opportunity to meet with private and public innovators in the UK was a great experience that allowed us to broaden our horizons beyond the U.S. We walked away with new relationships with UK researchers, transportation agencies, and funding partners that we hope to collaborate closely with in the coming months.” Another reason why an increased collaboration between the UK and LA is nothing but beneficial for all parties on both sides of the pond.