MBRDI, Villgro, and WRI India Announce ‘Enroute’ Challenge for Startups

Bengaluru, India – Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India (MBRDI)—the largest R&D center for Mercedes-Benz Group AG outside of Germany—announced the launch of ‘Enroute: A Mobility-As-A-Service Challenge’ for startups to enhance public transit efficiency. Aiming to revolutionize public transportation in Bengaluru, the startup innovation Challenge, in partnership with Villgro, India’s foremost impact-first incubator, and WRI India, an independent charity legally registered as the India Resources Trust, will leverage Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd’s (BMRCL) open data resources.

Prof Rajeev Gowda, Former Member of Parliament and Former Vice Chairman, Karnataka State Policy and Planning Commission (KSPPC), launched the initiative and emphasized the critical need for a unified transportation platform to enhance the commuting experience in Bengaluru. "Enroute is a revolutionary step for Bengaluru’s mobility. The Challenge fits in with a lot of Government of Karnataka initiatives, and this promises to be an initiative that can serve as a model for transit networks across the country," he said at the launch.

Maheshwar Rao, IAS, Managing Director, BMRCL, provided the keynote address and expressed support for the program. "There is a lot of data available in public transport that is not used to the maximum. If there is anything that we can do to make commuting convenient, we should do it. We believe some interesting solutions can emerge from this challenge," he said.

The launch event also featured an insightful panel discussion titled ‘Bengaluru’s Public Transport Revolution: How Open Data and Innovation Can Enhance the Commuter Experience’. The panelists included Vijay Kovvali, Research Professor, CiSTUP, IISc; Sujith Nair, CEO, FIDE; Sachin Naik, Deputy General Manager, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India; and Janet Joseph, Lead, CSR, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India. Moderated by Srinivas Alavilli, Fellow, WRI India, the discussion underscored the pivotal role of data and technological innovation in transforming Bengaluru’s public transport landscape.

Manu Saale, Managing Director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India, stated, "India’s vibrant startup ecosystem exemplifies the spirit of innovation that we champion at MBRDI. Leveraging the power of technology, we are committed to innovative mobility and transport solutions that improve the quality of life in cities. This initiative will unlock the potential of data in addressing the unique needs of Bengaluru’s commuters and enhancing their mobility experience."

Pawan Mulukutla, Executive Director - Integrated Transport, Clean Air & Hydrogen, WRI India, commented, "Open data in Bengaluru’s public transport is not just a technological advancement; it’s a step towards smarter, more efficient, and inclusive urban mobility. By combining innovative solutions with transit data, Enroute aims to empower citizens with real-time information, enhance public transport reliability, and foster innovation that can transform Namma Bengaluru."

This challenge invites startups to develop an integrated solution that enables commuters to access real-time updates on public transit schedules, plan their journeys efficiently, and pay for all their tickets through one unified portal. By making transportation more accessible, efficient, and user-friendly, this initiative aims to significantly improve overall mobility in Bengaluru. The top 3 startups will receive seed funding support and the opportunity to pilot their solution on-ground.

Ananth Aravamudan, Chief of Program & Strategy, Villgro, said, "Our goal is to solve public mobility by encouraging the development of smart, efficient, and user-friendly transportation solutions. We call upon startups to join us in this exciting journey, an opportunity to access public transportation data to develop solutions."

According to research by WRI India, approximately 70 percent of Bengaluru’s metro users commute for work. However, their daily journeys are often impacted by obstacles such as increased wait times and lack of last-mile connectivity, which extend their commute time. To address these concerns, ‘Enroute: A Mobility-As-A-Service Challenge’ seeks to integrate various modes of transport into a single, cohesive platform.

Image Source: MBRDI

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