Smart City Kickstart Accelerator

Working together to shape the city of the future

Eleven weeks, eight start-ups, one vision: smart cities. Working together with cities and companies, the Kickstart Accelerator finalists tested concepts that will improve quality of life in our cities through the use of technology.

Text: Bigna Salzmann,
Images: Philippe Rossier

Innovation catalysts for smart cities

The smart city vertical was a first for the Kickstart Accelerator, and it caused a great deal of excitement. Are enough Swiss cities already focusing on the idea of a smart city as a future scenario? What solutions do start-ups have for smart cities? Are these global solutions at all transferable to the Swiss market and do they still offer enough scaling potential? In June, it became clear that the start-up scene had set the ball rolling long ago – almost 200 applications were received. The topic was even on the agenda within a number of Swiss cities and administrations. Alongside partner companies, cities and administrations were also represented on the Kickstart Accelerator jury. 16 start-ups were granted the opportunity to “pitch” their solutions to the jury during a short, five-minute presentation. The eight finalists selected impressed the judges with the composition of their teams, the market potential of their solutions and the prospects of a possible partnership with at least one of the partners. Not only does the Kickstart Accelerator (KSA) act as an intermediary between people with problems that need to be solved and people who can offer solutions, it also acts as a catalyst for innovation. The finalists were invited to spend three months at Kraftwerk in Zurich in order to facilitate collaboration.

Smart data for a smart city

A smart city requires smart data; connectivity provides the backbone for this. With its Low Power Network (LPN), Swisscom is offering a complementary network that was specially created for the Internet of Things. These applications only send small volumes of data at selected time intervals, so they require little energy and give rise to fewer costs. This means, for example, that BikeLook, a start-up aiming to provide bicycle tracking with a view to preventing theft, is able to test its technology using the Low Power Network and will, in the future, be able to use it to significantly increase the battery life of its tracking devices.

Mark Bennett, CEO BikeLook

Four promising approaches for the city of the future

The months from September to November were a veritable marathon: shared ideas were developed, tested, rejected or set in motion. Swisscom succeeded in initiating projects with three of the finalists, and also established an intrapreneur team comprising employees from Swisscom and AXA. Within just eleven weeks, the ideas became tangible projects and one thing is already clear: the partnerships will continue.

About the Kickstart Accelerator

The Kickstart Accelerator​(KSA) is the largest international, cross-industry technology accelerator programme. The KSA emerged under the leadership of digitalswitzerland, an initiative that aims to position Switzerland as an attractive location for start-ups. ​The KSA helps start-ups to refine their business ideas and to forge ahead with them. Leading financial institutions are also acting as partners; these include Swiss Life, Credit Suisse, UBS, Raiffeisen Switzerland, the Global Fintech Association and SIX. Swisscom is a founding member of DigitalZurich2025 and KSA Switzerland. Swisscom sponsors the Fintech, Smart City and EdTech verticals.

Hawa Dawa: Making air quality visible

Hawa Dawa focuses on liveable and green cities. The start-up uses real-time air quality data, big data analytics and machine learning algorithms to create an air quality model. During a pilot trial with Swisscom, Hawa Dawa used freely-available real-time data for the city of Zurich. They used this to create an air quality model of the whole city. Swisscom is integrating this information into the Swisscom Insight platform. This platform displays flows of people and mobility flows in Switzerland in real time. The knowledge gained from this is used by those responsible for administration, tourism and marketing as a basis for decision-making and planning. The newly-integrated air quality data can, for example, be used in combination with mobility data to help with the planning of traffic flows, or it may be of interest to persons responsible for health. The pilot phase will run until May 2018.

Karim Tarraf, CEO Hawa Dawa

Antavi: a network for security forces

Increasing security at large-scale events by monitoring the flow of visitors and using a digital crowd management system – that is the solution offered by Antavi. The solution, which enables the flow of people to be analysed, can be integrated into any event app. If location pinpointing has been activated, the security forces are provided with a real-time overview of the behaviour of the crowd. This enables hotspots to be quickly identified, together with critical movement dynamics. At the same time, it enables crowd managers and security forces to better coordinate with one another using the app. The Swiss start-up teamed up with Swisscom Broadcast to develop a tracking solution based on the Low Power Network (LPN) and the mobile network (4G). If required, the app can track vehicles belonging to the security forces. This enables security forces to better coordinate their activities. As activation needs to take place before people are tracked, the privacy of members of the security forces is guaranteed at all times. The solution has already been successfully presented at the Swisscom Broadcast Experience Day.

Rent'n'Share: Mobility as needed

Benefiting from having your own car on the basis of a fixed monthly price and sharing it when it is not needed? With Rent'n'Share, you can rent a car flexibly and digitally and share it when it is not needed. During the Kickstart Accelerator, the first prototype was tested by the intrapreneur team consisting of Swisscom and AXA employees. An electric car was made available to the participants during the KSA. This could be charged using the charging station installed by Spark Horizon in front of the Kraftwerk building. Spark Horizon is a start-up that provides charging stations for electric cars with integrated advertising.

uHoo: for a healthy indoor climate

Studies have shown that the air inside buildings is between two and five times poorer than the air outside. Not only does this cause tiredness among employees, it can also seriously harm their health. uHoo has looked into this and has made indoor air quality visible with its air measurement device. From 8 December, we will be trialling uHoo's device in the Swisscom TestLab in Biel. On the basis of customer feedback, Swisscom will test the inclusion of a joint offer in the smart home portfolio.

The Kickstart Accelerator has not just demonstrated how current the smart city topic is. It has also highlighted the sheer diversity of the solutions that are set to make our cities more attractive and more sustainable. The concepts put forward that will be implemented in the long term will be revealed over the coming months.

Dustin Onghanseng, CEO uHoo

All finalists from the KSA smart city batch at a glance

  • Antavi (Switzerland): Crowd Management
  • BikeLook (Ireland): Bike Tracking

Hand with smartphone


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