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Lithuanian transport giants launched “sandbox” platform

The transport innovation environment (sandbox) is officially launched in Lithuania. Startups will get exclusive access to Road Maintenance, Lithuanian Railways and Lithuanian Post infrastructure, data and experts’ advices.  

A safe environment for testing innovative ideas in real life conditions has been created by the Transport Innovation Center uniting all three state-owned companies. Julius Norkūnas, the director of the center, says that this initiative aims to stimulate the creation and development of innovations applicable in the transport sector in Lithuania, as well as their implementation in state-owned companies. 

“These companies are in competition with the private business and must therefore bring the most value-added innovation to their customers. It is important for the state-owned companies to collaborate with technology start-ups while start-ups need their infrastructure, data and expert insights. Thus, a start-up innovation environment will combine these two business worlds, ”says Julius Norkūnas, who speaks of a new initiative to promote innovation in public sector. 

It has already started  

Prior to the official launch of the “sandbox” platform, it was already tested by the first startup ZitiCity – a last mile delivery solution based on shared economy. Together with the Lithuanian Post, they created a trial version for the same day parcel delivery. 

Asta Sungailiene, CEO of Lithuanian Post, says that the company is operating in a highly competitive environment with increasing customer expectations for postal services, and the business environment is changing rapidly. Therefore, Lithuania Post must be fast and attractive to modern users and look for ways to implement innovations quickly and efficiently. 

“The project with ZitiCity has proven to be very successful in providing services to demanding and busy city dwellers who have already tried out uber-based service models. We realized that a successful project requires a dedicated team that is capable of working quickly and creatively. Lithuanian Post will certainly continue to look for ways to further innovate the company. We hope that the Transport Innovation Center, which offers us new ideas and helps to implement them, will help to achieve this goal, ”says Asta Sungailienė. 

The best practices have been taken into account  

The first “sandboxes” of transport innovation in Europe have been in operation for several years. These include German railway company Deutsche Bahn’s DB Mindbox, BMW’s Startup Garage, Israeli “Drive”, which unites startups and world’s largest car manufacturers, and the UK’s Rail Innovate program. The experience of these organizations was taken into account in the development of Transport Innovation Center, therefore in Lithuania such innovation agency was created together with three transport companies, with the vision of more companies to join. 

“Foreign experience shows that a single company setting up a testing environment in its field is quickly facing a lack of ideas and a multi-disciplinary program offers more opportunities for innovators. In addition, some ideas can be implemented in more than one company, so with our help startups get access to three different companies, ”explains Julius Norkūnas. 

Startups wishing to participate in “sandbox” to test their innovative products and services must submit an application on the website of the Transport Innovation Center (www.mobilitytech.lt/sanbox), which will be evaluated by experts from the Transport Innovation Center, Road Maintenance, Lithuanian Railways and Lithuanian Post. 

Startups entering an innovative environment will develop a trial version of their product or service, where state-owned company specialists will customize the infrastructure and start the testing. The “sandbox” will give a lot of freedom to make mistakes and learn from it, there is no need for participating companies to have fully functional products. In addition, throughout their involvement in the innovation environment, startups receive mentorship and expert advice, as well as assistance in attracting new investments. 

At least 10 startups are expected to participate in the transport Innovation environment program this year. 

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