London for smart mobility

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The UK capital offers a wealth of opportunities for mobility, from investment and testbeds to open data and a huge talent pool. Here are five reasons why smart mobility is thriving in the city.

1. Strategy

The Mayor of London has set out a goal for the capital to be zero carbon by 2030, alongside a transport strategy that aims for 80% of journeys to be made by walking, cycling or public transport by 2041. It includes a commitment to deliver a 100% zero-emission bus fleet in London by 2034.

With one of the largest and most efficient transport networks in the world coupled with an integrated transport agency, Transport for London (TfL), the capital has become a leader in smart ticketing, contactless payments and open data.

Rail links such as the High Speed 1 (HS1) train line, which runs Eurostar trains, are some of the most sustainable ways to reach London from mainland Europe, in part because sections of the route are powered by renewable energy.[1]

2. Access to capital

The UK and London support sustainable infrastructure. The Mayor of London is investing in multiple cycleways and 130 regeneration projects city-wide.

London's cycling action plan,[2] which aims to make the capital the world’s best big city for cycling, has made good progress, with 20% of Londoners living within 400m (1,312ft) of the Cycleways network.  

In 2021, the UK government launched the “greenprint”, a plan to decarbonise all modes of domestic transport by 2050, including a £2.8bn investment to support the switch to cleaner motor vehicles.[3]

London is home to a range of venture capital (VC) firms investing in the mobility space, including InMotion Ventures, MMC Ventures, Northzone, Atomico and Index Ventures. In 2022, transport companies with headquarters in London raised £1.44bn – up from £883m in 2021.[4]

3. Talent

With a large pool of software developers, a dense population of tech talent and an innovative mindset, London is a European hub for mobility.

The city is home to some of the world’s top universities and academic institutions which boast a range of dedicated research centres and programmes for mobility, including:

  • Centre for Transport Studies and the Transport Systems and Logistics Laboratory at Imperial College London.
  • Intelligent Mobility MA programme at the Royal College of Art, which looks to the future of all forms of transportation design.
  • MaaS lab at University College Londonwhich provides insight and guidance into mobility as a service, plus four transport-related master's programmes.
  • The London campus of Loughborough University, which is the lead academic partner for Smart Mobility Living Lab, a London testbed for mobility solutions.

About 295,000 people work in the transport and storage industry in London as of December 2022.[5]

In the private sector, Ford Motor Company runs a graduate scheme[6] in smart mobility, helping to develop and implement smart mobility and electric vehicle strategies. The Ford Smart Mobility Innovation Office is based in Stratford, east London. 

4. Innovation and sustainability

London is embedding innovation and versatility at the core of its services. The mayor’s commitment to making London a zero-carbon city by 2030 is driving the transition towards the decarbonisation of transport.

As of December 2023, London has more than 18,000 electric vehicle charging stations,[7] leading the UK with more than 34% of the market share. 

Transport for London has a dedicated innovation department focused on improving the city’s mobility services which often uses a challenge-led approach. By the end of 2024, it aims to have mobile access available within every station and tunnel.[8] London’s Tube tunnels are set to provide full fibre connectivity across the city, with the installation of more than 2,000km of cabling on the network. 

TfL is a leader in open data.[9] Its unified API and open data platform power more than 600 apps, with more than 17,000 developers registered for its open data and more than 42% of Londoners using apps powered by its data.

London has 800 active zero-emission buses, one of the highest numbers in Europe.[10] Under TfL's Bus Action Plan, all new buses to the network are zero emission, with plans for all buses to be converted by 2030, taking 500,000 tonnes of carbon out of the transport system. 

5. Ecosystem

London has dedicated government bodies, accelerators, incubators and industry initiatives that support mobility businesses to grow and thrive.

For example, London’s airports are working to decarbonise air travel as the UK government’s Jet Zero Strategy commits the country to net-zero aviation emissions by 2050 and net-zero emissions on domestic flights by 2040.[11]

The capital's robust ecosystem, from the Intelligent Mobility Accelerator (run by Connected Places Catapult and Wayra) to Smart Mobility Living Lab (the UK’s most advanced testbed for future transport technologies and services), makes it the perfect city for mobility innovators.

Find out more about sustainable business in London.

To be able to manage the issues of today, the UK and particularly the government in London is looking to the future and to meeting the opportunities and challenges of the transition to net-zero, ensuring it has the right skills, people and technology to succeed. This is where companies like Einride can come in at just the right time and place.
Alastair MacIntyre
VP Region UK/Ireland at Einride

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