Across the whole of Flanders, creative spirits are now discovering smart solutions to urban challenges such as mobility and energy. But these different solutions often run off track when it’s they’re due to work with each other. By joining forces with WATT Factory and Stad Mechelen, Telenet wants to give start-ups a little push, helping their solutions to communicate with each other. Because what use are smart traffic lights in one city if they don’t ‘talk’ to smart cameras that detect traffic jams in the next city?
by Christophe Lemaitre, director IoT partnerships at Telenet
According to figures from the World Bank, 60% of the global population will be living in cities by 2025. The development of our cities has never before been so important. The Internet of Things (IoT), a system in which smart devices are connected to each other via the internet, is vital in this context. IoT offers a solution to three major concerns in our cities: security, traffic and pollution. Think about how it might help to contact police more quickly, avoid traffic jams or reduce CO2 emissions.
Start-ups full of creative minds have been appearing at an alarming rate over the past few years. But if we really want smart cities and a smart country, it’s essential that these start-ups have the chance to flourish and work together. The WATT Factory understands that all too well. It is Flanders’s first smart city-hub: a place where start-ups with a focus on mobility, energy and the buildings of the future can develop further. And that’s not all. Every year, WATT Factory organises a six-month coaching trajectory. Fifteen start-ups are selected to participate. The goal is to increase their scalability and raise investor interest.
Telenet entered into this ecosystem with Telenet Tinx. Telenet will provide specific connectivity for the Internet of Things applications and offer platform services. As well as this, start-ups will be able to participate in an accelerator programme at the Telenet Innovation Centre, developing and testing their prototypes.
WATT Factory has expanded through a collaboration with The Beacon in Antwerp and the Stad Mechelen. Flemish minister for Innovation, Philippe Muyters, has previously emphasised that Flanders needs to be approached as a single city. And he is correct. What would happen if a fire broke out in the Craeybeckx Tunnel? With a signal, the ventilation in the tunnel could be closed, sprinklers turned on and the closest fire fighters alerted, while drivers could be informed of the situation and offered alternative routes via traffic boards. And that would happen across city limits.
Telenet would also like to help with the communication between the various solutions and platforms of start-ups. Especially those with a strong presence in Mechelen. Because together with Mayor Bart Somers, Telenet believes that Mechelen can become a pioneer in the area of the Internet of Things. The collaboration with WATT Factory will lead to a strengthening of the local ecosystem, with innovative start-ups that can grow locally for longer and build up the broader smart city community from Mechelen. The city looks, for example, at all the possibilities of connected lighting along bike paths or the establishment of safe, smart bike routes to schools. As a company that employs a lot of people in Mechelen, Telenet can only support and applaud this initiative.
Until the end of May, start-ups can apply to be part of the six-month programme due to commence this June: https://wattfactory.be/en/accelerator/