Driving Innovation for Future Transport Needs

Published Dec-31-12

Following the success of its first foray into open innovation a global leader in rail technology launches another popular contest - to address urban transport needs.

Bombardier Transportation, Canada

The Story:

Driving Innovation for Future Transport Needs Bombardier Transportation was the first company in the rail industry to engage with open innovation when it launched a web-based contest in 2009 that invited people to share their ideas for the future of train interiors. It was an outstanding success that resulted in more than 4,000 entries and many innovative ideas.

The organisation followed this up with a new open innovation contest in 2012 called YouCity. It sought innovative concepts for how passengers would travel in and between cities in the coming years.

Pressing Transport Issues

As outlined on the competition’s website more than two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by the year 2050. Therefore issues of how people will move around freely and easily have to be looked at now.

“Swelling urban populations are compounding the mobility challenges faced by cities around the world,” said Martin Ertl, Bombardier Transportation’s Chief Innovation Officer.

“Finding innovative, sustainable solutions to these challenges is imperative. That’s why we decided to focus our next open innovation initiative on exploring ways to make public transport even more passenger-, operator- and eco-friendly.”

Competition Time

Participants were invited to develop their ideas in one of three areas, called streams– engineering, business, and urban planning. To focus the contest Bombardier selected three cities to represent different urban environments- London, UK (mature market), Belo Horizonte, Brazil (BRIC market) and Vientiane, Laos (emerging market).

Once registered, individuals and teams took part in tasks that required them to analyse the situation in the stream, develop a solution and then explore how it could be implemented. Throughout the process a number of Bombardier experts joined the online platform to provide feedback and answer questions.

The participation phase of the contest ran for three months and attracted nearly 900 students and professionals from 74 countries. They submitted 215 entries.

Contest Winners

The three winning concepts selected by the judges were:

AutoShuttle rail transport for motorways in mature markets such as London – this winning engineering concept put forward the idea of individual transparent cabins to transport cars along motorway routes on dedicated Maglev lanes at 180 km/h. Drivers would be free to get off at any motorway exit and rejoin the conventional road network.

Liquid Oyster – the winning business concept is based on London’s existing pay-as-you-go travel card. Liquid Oyster would automatically apply daily, weekly and monthly price caps when their cost is reached. Travelers would no longer have to choose to pay weekly or monthly travel card prices instead of using daily pay-as-you-go.

Color zones for Vientiane – the urban planning winning concept is a proposal for different colored transport zones in this Laos city. The idea is that travelers would be able to more easily agree fares and vehicle sharing for taxis and motorized rickshaws.

The three winning teams were then invited to join Bombardier in a collaborative Innovation Boot camp.

Competition Success

Overall the open innovation contest was deemed a success. It succeeded in its aim of stimulating high profile discussions on important issues. Furthermore, these conversations generated a diverse mix of innovative ideas that could help to guide future transport and mobility policies.

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