Urban transport challenges have traditionally been left to the public sector. With the growth of cities and problems of congestion, longer commute times, and emissions, entrepreneurs are recognizing the opportunity to address people’s demand for better mobility. Entrepreneurs are developing new models to address mobility challenges. From shared mobility to decision making apps, connected machines to electric vehicles, online consumption to flexible work patterns, the changing landscape of transport is compelling. In 2014, $5.7 billion was invested in mobility companies.

In India, there is little ecosystem support - financial, technical, research, regulatory - for businesses that seek to advance sustainable mobility options. Over the past two years, EMBARQ India has been working to bring together elements of an enabling ecosystem , including early-financial, technical, and business support, in addition to pushing for regulatory reforms and innovation. 

In 2013-14, EMBARQ India launched the Rickshaw Rising Challenge with the support of Shell Foundation. The Challenge called for applications from businesses revolutionizing the ubiquitous but unorganized auto rickshaw sector. Awards of $100,000 and 6-months support was offered.

Applications were received from ~50 businesses in 13 cities across India. These businesses were:

  • solving problems of last-mile connectivity, emissions, driver welfare, and consumer experience
  • creating new ecosystems by building networks, organizing drivers, providing financial services
  • developing new technologies, analyzing data, designing cheaper and better products, and
  • improving existing informal system, finding ways to monetize under-utilized assets

The winners of the Challenge have grown significantly:

  • Autowale served 500,000 trips in December 2014 in Pune
  • Autoraja grew their trips served by over 600% since the Challenge in Chennai
  • Three Wheels United partnered with TaxiForSure and put 500 drivers on their platform in Bangalore

Building on the Rickshaw Rising Challenge, EMBARQ India is developing a body of work at the intersection of innovation and regulation to support enterprise-led mobility solutions. The work encompasses:

  • researching and creating momentum for transformative ideas with the potential to scale
  • demystifying mobility businesses to the enabling investor and regulator ecosystem
  • supporting promising business models to scale by leveraging investment and business support

Over the next few months, we will be publishing reports in the following areas: 1) Learnings from the Rickshaw Rising Challenge; 2) Regulatory barriers in the IPT businesses; 3) Rethinking women’s safety in IPT; 4) Emerging mobility trends in India; 5) Potential for cashless transactions in transport; and 6) Potential for open data in transport.


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Innovation Projects

  • Data Visualization Challenge

    In order to encourage more cities to open their data, Institute of Urban Transport along with EMBARQ India launched a Data Visualization Challenge last year that offered a slice of raw transport...

  • Emerging Mobility Business Trends

     EMBARQ is attempting to change the wider business and investment community’s perception by supporting existing entrepreneurs to scale and become profitable. This will also prompt private sector...

  • Rickshaw Rising Challenge

    The Rickshaw Rising Challenge was a first of its kind platform to support entrepreneurs that are changing the face of urban mobility in India. Launched in November 2013 with the support of Shell...

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