By @SimonCocking, interview with Brian McGovern Co-founder at .

Business Showcase : Urbo

What is your background briefly?

My background is in the education services industry. I co-founded an education business that has grown to a roll-call of over 3,000 students per week. I’m also the Vice-Chairman of a League of Ireland football club. My background has also stemmed around numbers, systems and data.

Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?

Numbers, systems and data is critical for every industry. It’s critical for education and now I can see how critical it is for urban mobility.

What is the future of Urban Mobility?

If you look back through the historical development of transport and mobility, there have been positve innovations which have defined decades and even defined regions. New York’s subway moves 1.7 billion people per year. France’s train network has redefined how people move between cities. Irish company Ryanair has revolutionised European air travel. Closer to home in Dublin, Ireland, the LUAS (the name for our tram system) continues to expand its reach and its ability to move Dubliners.

But on a micro level there has been nothing revolutionising as such. Nobody has solved “The last mile problem”. The last mile problem is a common issue for many commuters. This refers to people using current forms of transport such as buses, trains and bikes to commute to work, but still being left with an inconvenient distance until they reach their desired destination.

Bike sharing schemes have made a difference, but they are extremely limited by locations of stations and volumes of actual bikes. The capital cost of such systems has limited their expansion.

Urbo was created to solve the last mile problem and aid city transport in general. Through a fusion of expertise in technology, bikes and urban planning, we will solve the mobility problems facing cities and towns, in a sustainable manner that works for all stakeholders.

What is the most important facet of launching these schemes?

Working closely with councils is the most important element, without doubt. As I mentioned, it’s vital that these initiatives are rolled out in a sustainable manner. By working closely with councils, we ensure this happens. We actually assist councils in designing a policy framework that allows schemes to be sustainable and enrich our cities and towns.

How has your experience working with councils been to date?

We really enjoy this part, because every location is different. There are so many variables in each location, from population density to topography and everything in between. We ask councils as many questions as possible. This allows us to find out what the area really needs. No dockless bike scheme is the same in terms of strategy and implementation, so it’s important to design a strategy that fits the area and its needs.

What can you see Urbo doing in the future?

Urbo means “urban mobility”. At Urbo, our mission is to move people in a way that solves the last mile problem. Right now we believe that is via dockless bikes. In the future, who knows what that could be. We’ve all seen the developments in autonomous cars. Ten years from now, who’s to say we won’t see hover boards arriving at your door via a smartphone app. The IoT advances are accelerating and Urbo will be at the heart of this research and development. We are a tech company, so we are not limiting ourselves to just dockless biking. We constantly look at developing new ways of getting from A to B, and improving current systems. Without giving too much away, there are a lot exciting plans in the pipeline.

What area of the Industry do you find most interesting?

Without a doubt, the data. Again, this reverts back to working closely with councils. We are extremely careful about data protection, but even with regulations there is so much value to be gained from data. Cities are producing vast amounts of data on a daily basis. You can literally change how a city or town operates from the data we collect – which of course is great news for councils. Essentially, we can help people live healthier, happier and more productive lives. As more data is collected, cities become smarter. This results in councils being able to reimagine transport routes,  turning their cities into smart cities. For cities and towns to become “smart” they must be provided with actionable insights from this data, and that’s something Urbo can do.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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