Rapid developments in IT, robotisation, task automation, the internet of things, 3D printing, drones, self-driving cars: our economy is clearly at a turning point. After steam, electricity and computers, the era of digitisation has begun.
But what will this new world look like? About seven hundred professionals took a look at this issue at the innovation festival Hack Belgium. Together with experts from all corners of society, they put their heads together in the search for solutions, technology and business innovation for a future-proof Belgium. Athlon helped put its shoulders to the hackathon and acted as a sounding board and expert in sustainable and innovative mobility.
Erwin Ollivier, Athlon CEO: “We’re facing so many challenges that the bases of our business model will change. Athlon wants to meet these challenges head on and to reinvent how its works. Initiatives like Hack Belgium are the ideal opportunity to go off the beaten track and discover new networks and insights.
Hack Belgium identified fourteen objectives for the future of Belgium. One of these is: Belgium as World’s Mobility Brain, the crossroads of the world, renowned for its large-scale, multi-modal and sustainable traffic flows. Erwin Ollivier: “We are so far away from this future picture. Every day our country is in a structural traffic jam. Everyone knows the problem and everyone thinks that someone else must solve it. The first thing we need to do is change our habits drastically. In addition, we need new Belgian legislation: currently it offers little flexibility in the areas of mobility and innovation.”
Erwin Ollivier challenged the hackers: stimulate car drivers to take part in collaborative consumption. And the result of this call? “Lots of the ideas at Hack Belgium resulted in applications that must change people’s habits”, says Ollivier. “One idea in particular caught my attention: a mobility platform that brings together supply and demand and motivates people to take part in carsharing. An interesting idea that’s worth exploring further.”
One of the mobility cases that reached the main stage on day three of Hack Belgium was the app BeMoTo – Be Mobile Together. This is aimed at people with limited mobility; in Brussels this is 30% of passengers. The app signals in real time which metro lifts are not working. In addition, travellers can use BeMoTo to ask for or offer help and in exchange can receive, for example, free public transport tickets.
Another mobility project that convinced the majority of the people present was Kirch-off: a platform that aims to connect consumers and producers of electricity for cars directly with one another. Handy, as if an electric car has a charged battery, this energy can be used as an electricity supplier at peak times.
It is no surprise at all to Luc Blockx, chief Innovator at Athlon, that two mobility ideas reached the final: “Mobility is a theme that concerns the whole of society: the infrastructure requires a tremendous amount of space and this is now a scarce resource in Flanders. Also the noise and emission of harmful substances affects everyone. It can only be a good thing that this raised awareness of the social cost of mobility is translated into concrete business cases.”