SOUL-FI has been one of the 16 Accelerators funded by the European Commission under Phase 3 of the EC’s Future Internet PPP Programme. SOUL-FI seeks to promote the development of products and services that take advantage of real time information, open and crowd-sourced data and all the new possibilities that the Internet of Things offers. SOUL FI aims to support and grow innovative and promising ideas and solutions to improve urban living via innovative Future Internet solutions, and to-date supported a total of 49 start ups (Rounds A/B) covering a variety of sectors, including energy, environment, mobility, quality of life, resources, and tourism. Led by the institute Pedro Nunez (IPN) in Coimbra, Portugal, the SOUL-FI consortium comprises organisations from five other countries, specifically Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxemburg and The Netherlands.
The frontierCities team caught up with SOUL-FI’s busy manager Nuno Varandas to get a picture of SOUL-FI and to get some insight into some of its most exciting start-ups.
Q & A with Nuno Varandas, EU Project Manager, SOUL-FI
Question: Nuno, tell us about your personal experience with the SOUL-FI project – what have been some of the highs and lows?
Personally, SOUL-FI Accelerator has been an exciting and fulfilment journey! The opportunity to meet, support and follow startups growth is amazing. The starting of the programme and first call/ acceleration phase was challenging. FIWARE was also a novelty, not many companies were aware of the technology and its potentials. But, with time, FIWARE became known as well as the Accelerators. The highs of the acceleration programmes have been the network events and success of the startups!
Question: Can you explain how the SOUL-FI supports promising start-ups and SMEs?
We have provided different type of supports to startups and SMEs: a) Direct investment (Round A: €10.000; Round B: €75.000); b) Business and technology Acceleration sessions/ trainings; c) Personalised tutor and specialized coaches; d) Access to Smartcities network and cities for pilots; e) Access to crowdfunding coaching and platform; f) Promotion towards investors; and g) Networking sessions.
Question: Can you tell us more about some of the achievements/success stories from the SOUL-FI project startups?
The portfolio of SOUL-FI startups has been very wide, either in the perspective product/ customer or maturity level of the Startup. Some of those can be found here: http://soul-fi.ipn.pt/success-cases-from-soul-fi-2/.
Question: How do you view the potential of open data-based business and FIWARE for Smart Cities?
If there is a sector that will benefit most from FIWARE platform and open data business it is the smartcities sector. FIWARE has been developed based on IoT and smartcities. Additionally the OASC initiative and FIWARE Foundation are pushing and supporting startups applying FIWARE technologies.
Question: Can you name three of your start-ups that really excite the SOUL-FI team right now?