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A Billion Possibilities to Make Things Better

Go-Ahead Group’s Head of Commercial Innovation Mark Anderson announces the ten exciting start-ups selected for the Billion Journey Project’s third cohort, and his vision of where it will take the business.

“Public transport is on a journey. At Go-Ahead Group our destination is a process where we strive to improve the experience for both our passengers and our employees at each stop along the way.

Innovation meets the challenges to our business head on, and that’s the exciting bit- the next project or idea could have a huge impact that improves the lives of so many who use and work in public transport every day, and Go-Ahead want to be ahead of the curve with the very best solutions.

The Billion Journey Project, which began three years ago now, is our multi-modal 12-week proof of concept innovation programme where we invite start-ups and SME’s to pitch their ideas. Ten are then chosen to take part in a 12-week workshop to develop their ideas, which culminates in a demo presentation day and potential collaboration with the Go-Ahead Group.

This is the third time Go-Ahead has committed to the process of a corporate-startup collaboration to take our business into the future. We are determined to provide the very best service for the billion journeys made each year by our customers and to achieve this, we set out to work with the sharpest and smartest start-ups and SMEs to develop industry-disrupting solutions in public transport.

For the project, Go-Ahead have partnered with innovation agency Co:cubed to collaboratively provide a programme that supports and develops the innovators, who’s brief is to tackle the challenging needs our regional businesses have identified.

Those challenges include improving the passenger experience, reaching new riders, preparing for the future of transport, driving engagement and retention of our employees, and tacking air quality.

The process of innovation

When applications opened earlier this year, start-ups from across the globe pitched their ideas before a shortlist was made for 2 pitch days in London.
After much deliberation, our Go-Ahead team settled on 10 exciting and inspiring ideas from start-ups who will have an unparalleled opportunity to build a long-term partnership with Go-Ahead Group:

  • Aclima – Hailing from San Francisco, US, this public health-focused start-up helps passengers make informed decisions about their travel plans based on air quality impact.
  • Codec – Based in London, Codec’s AI-powered insights segment user data from anonymised interactions with online content to identify ‘cultural tribes’. This enables greater personalisation.
  • Concured – This London-based AI platform helps clients better understand target audiences and how to attract, awaken and educate them by delivering the right content, to the right person at the right time.
  • Emu Analytics – A data analytics and visualisation start-up based in London, Emu Analytics enables people to make better decisions around routes and capacity.
  • Esoterix – Based in Bristol, Esoterix helps passengers make journeys by different modes whether they’re on buses, trains or foot.
  • OpenCapacity – A London tech start-up that helps passengers better understand how busy the bus will be.
  • Optibus – This Israel-based AI-driven tech company plans and schedules the movements of every vehicle and driver for leading transport operators so that bus routes and frequencies are better aligned with demand.
  • Peakon – Started in Denmark, Peakon collects employee feedback, analyses it, then delivers insights that help managers improve their approach resulting in improved employee satisfaction.
  • Swiftly – This San Francisco-based enterprise software start-up works with transport companies and cities to improve passenger information during disruption.
  • BetterPoints – A behavioural change management system, London-based BetterPoints rewards passengers for journeys made by public transport.

The route ahead

With the selection process complete, December will give us the opportunity to ‘onboard’ these companies, sharing with them what it means to work in public transport, giving them a greater understanding of our briefs, and offering them the chance to enter into a deeper dialogue with our regional company heads.

As we enter 2020, we’ll seek to fully immerse the businesses in our working practices, sharing insight and data to help them develop their solutions and build on their existing technology. We’ll also carry out field trips for them to see some of the challenges first-hand.

February will see many of the start-ups enter into a pilot and proof of concept phase, workshopping the solutions with our teams, iterating and reviewing the progress made.
And then in March, the programme will culminate with our demo showcase, demonstrating how far the start-ups and our teams have come together.

It promises to be a truly illuminating and exciting few months, one that myself and the team cannot wait to get our teeth into.

The future landscape of transport will be shaped by innovation that benefits our customers, employees and other stakeholders. We can’t wait to see what transpires over the next 12 weeks.”