Founded by a team of former TomTom employees in 2013, Innovactory develops innovative smart mobility applications. By helping people to travel smarter, the firm’s products help reduce carbon emissions and the environment. Their most successful app, TimesUpp, is now used by more than 150,000 people. It transforms a user’s calendar into the perfect travel assistant, advising on the best time and method of transport to get to their destination, with real-time updates on traffic jams and other unexpected delays. The company is based in Almere in the Amsterdam Area. 

We asked Innovactory’s Chief Operating Officer Maurice Mulder about industry trends in smart mobility, doing business in Amsterdam Area and why the company made Almere its home:

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your industry this year?

It’s exciting that the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is growing and has been gaining the attention of both the public and private sectors.  MaaS is basically a single on-demand service in which all transport modalities are aggregated into one single door-to-door solution including payment. Basically, its Netflix’s business model applied to urban transportation.

What has been the biggest change in your industry in the past 5 years?

On the consumer side, we’ve seen people embracing new mobility concepts such as car sharing and apps over the last five years. Together with rising smartphone penetration and connectivity, it will be the key enablers for the growth of the mobility market. In recent years the public and private sectors have been investing heavily in resolving mobility bottlenecks, realising that we cannot expand infrastructure indefinitely. The public and private sector have been collaborating to come up with innovative solutions to these problems.

Photo: Maurice Mulders (right) receives an award for Innovactory's

How do you see the industry changing in the next 5-10 years and what are the key trends we should look out for?

At Innovactory we believe that future mobility is going to be shaped by global mega-trends like urbanisation, pollution, congestion and connectivity. These trends will revolutionise the way we currently look at mobility and personal mobility in particular. It’s going to change the entire way that we travel from A to B and that change will create a whole new ecosystem of personal mobility (MaaS). It’s an opportunity to improve the way people move, both for the individual and for society as a whole.

How are you improving your social responsibility/sustainability/circular efforts?

Across the globe, actions are being taken to stop global warming. The emission of greenhouse gases must be reduced significantly. Car mobility delivers a big contribution to this. We must radically change the way we deal with mobility. We need to change how we travel from A to B and that change will be creating a whole new ecosystem of personal mobility.

Since our foundation in 2013, we have been committed to making the travel behaviour of our users more sustainable with the development of our smart travel assistant TimesUpp. Already more than 150,000 people have installed TimesUpp and now travel smarter. Our app appears to have a large number of behaviour changing properties that regularly encourage our users to choose a more environmentally-friendly solution.

In 2017, our users once again made a major contribution to our objectives to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions. The four incentive programs that we have carried out with our clients have prevented more than 250,000 car trips from being made. This has resulted in a CO2 saving of almost 650 tonnes!

Of course, as an organisation we are at the forefront of limiting our own emissions considerably. We have taken a large number of measures and make it possible for our employees to make a contribution here. Almost all employees work at home at least two days a week and the majority commute to the office by bicycle or public transport.

How important is obtaining detailed knowledge of doing business in another country before you set up there?

At the moment we don’t have plans to set up shop somewhere abroad. But network and previous experiences are key. One should always be aware of the cultural differences/fit and know the local etiquette before doing business abroad, even before looking at tax options.

What are the main drivers for you to set up shop elsewhere?

No plans, but finding talent could be one or if we needed boots on the ground with local market knowledge.

What does a good opportunity look like to you?

A good opportunity for us is an introduction, action or experience that brings us a step closer to our goal in supporting travellers around the world during their daily commute, frequent trips and journeys to every destination with a single mobility service.

Why did Innovactory decide to establish itself in the Amsterdam Area/Almere?

We were founded in 2013 by a team of former TomTom employees and we learned there that the Netherlands is a perfect market to validate and test your product. If you succeed in the Netherlands there is a good possibility that you’ll conquer the world next!

What three things do you like best about the region? What do you like best about Almere?

We found affordable office space in Almere and it gave us access to a great talent pool of developers all just 20 minutes from the center of Amsterdam.

How would you describe the business culture in the Amsterdam region?

Amsterdam has an international multicultural business culture in which transparency and honesty are highly valued, as well as a healthy work-life balance.

How do you see the Amsterdam Area in 10-15 years from now?

Predicting the future is always dangerous. But I know that Amsterdam is preparing itself to become a city where data and digital technology is used to improve the overall quality of life.

Almere

Photo: Almere at night

How are people using apps to travel in 2018?

The travel apps nowadays are mostly designed unimodally. For example; if someone wants to make use of a taxi, they use the Uber app, for public transport, it will be NS etc. This will evolve in the coming years into mixed-modal apps. An example of a mixed-modal app would be a user getting the following advice from his app in order to reach a certain destination; drive your own car to a P&R, hop on to a bus and use Uber for the last mile. This will save you €25 in parking fees and take just 10 minutes longer than driving the whole route.

How does Innovactory compete against some of the bigger apps out there - Google maps, TomTom, Here and Waze?

TimesUpp is a tool which helps drivers to find smarter alternative routes. It also helps drivers to think about postponing their trip during busy traffic periods or advises on using alternative transport methods. The result is happy customers and a better distribution of traffic, which leads to less congestion. Google Maps or Waze are mostly used in a car during a trip, whereas TimesUpp is mostly used before a user sets off on a journey.

As AI tech keeps developing, how is it influencing how people travel?

AI is a key development area within the mobility space. For example, autonomous driving relies heavy on AI in order for the real-time decision making for the recognition of objects around the car.