French tech startup delegation showcases Ubimobility in Detroit

Even the unpredictable Michigan weather offered a warm welcome to a delegation of eight French mobility startup laureates embarking on a two week immersion to forge connections and build relationships with Detroit region OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, potential investors, universities, and other stakeholders.

These entrepreneurs represent Ubimobility, a French connected and autonomous vehicle accelerator that supports emerging startups. Proven innovators in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, electric vehicle charging, sensor technology, test simulation, and more, this year’s Ubimobility class showcased their technology during an event at hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber and Destination Detroit.

To participate in the delegation, the entrepreneurs competed as group of 20, and were judged by a panel of American experts including Ford, Aptiv, Fiat Chrysler, Magna, Qualcomm, Boston Consulting Group, University of California Berkeley, University of Michigan, and others. When the group departs Detroit, it will head to San Francisco to continue the immersion experience.

Leaders connect through Ubimobility immersion

Before taking the stage at Detroit’s NextEnergy, the group was welcomed by Justin Robinson, vice president of economic development with the Detroit Regional Chamber, Guillaume Lacroix, Consul General of France, and George Ucko, head of transportation at Business France North America.

“France is a startup nation, and I’m sure our visitors from France will provide you with more insight and more evidence of that fact,” says Lacroix. “They can share their energy and their creativity. Innovation is not just for one generation, but for all generations. It’s about creating a better future.”

Four years and 24 Ubimobility alumni in, and 14 have established a business presence in North America, including Navya, the autonomous shuttle company with a production facility in Saline, near Ann Arbor.

When asked about their perception of Detroit and its role in the high-tech industry that is often equated with Silicon Valley, the entrepreneurs were enthusiastic about Detroit’s dense and seasoned expertise.

“For mobility, everyone is here. In Silicon Valley, there is a delegation, but those we want to work with us, they are here. It’s important and clear and visible, and [that expertise] is helping us to develop our product,” says Lucille Motton, key account manager with Aix-en-Provence-based Ween.ai.

Lucille Motton describes Ween.ai mobility technology.

Overall, the Ubimobility Showcase was an opportunity to reach out to a nontraditional center of mobility innovation, and make it easy for this collection of companies to connect with Detroit area Tier 1s and OEMs, according to Robinson of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“It’s paramount that we help lead the future of connected and autonomous, and we do that by building bridges to other regions and countries that have the technology to move that forward,” Robinson says.

“These companies representing France are phenomenal,” says Kathy Myers, director of the French American Chamber of Commerce, Michigan chapter. “They bring much appreciated interaction and collaboration. There is no doubt that France is becoming a major force. We are proud to serve and support this generation of French entrepreneurs.”

Romain Legros describes GEOFLEX technology at Ubimobility showcase

Here’s a brief list of the startups and their technologies:

AVSimulation. CEO Emmanuel Chevrier leverages the value of simulation for testing AVs, helping get safe AVs on the roads faster. Using modular, open platform SCANeR software to test and validate components, ADAS, and sensors, Chevrier says AVSimulation can replicate any environmental configuration. AVSimulation is actively working toward opening an office in the United States.

GEOFLEX. By providing Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS based on Precise Point Positioning technology, GEOFLEX models and estimates all modifications to existing GNSS measurements, and then provides those PPP corrections through subscriptions, according to founder and CEO Romain Legros. GEOFLEX is fully ready to demonstrate its capabilities here in Detroit.

GULPLUG. Benoit Defosse, sales manager with GULPLUG was eager to share the significance of his company’s palindromic name. This Schneider Electric Open Innovation spinoff provides smart plug technology that senses vehicle presence, and connects magnetically for conduction-based electrical charging. The plug can flow electrical current in both directions, so vehicles can charge and feed energy back to the grid.

IDnomic. Is it easy to hack a modern car? IDnomic business development manager Axel Sandot says yes. But the Security Credentials Management Systems of IDnomic provide authentication and data integrity to thwart cyber threats, and make connected roads safer and less contaminated, a critical step to assure public confidence and protect digital identities.

ISFM. The Milla Pod is a disruptive autonomous vehicle that is ready to ride, accommodating six passengers, or platooned to shuttle up to 20 passengers, for short-distance use in universities, shopping districts, industrial and tourist sites, and private areas. ISFM’s goal is to achieve 20 percent market share by 2023, says COO Eric Gendarme.

NIT. New Imaging Technologies provides vision sensors for autonomous driving, with a human perception-level of performance in all lighting conditions. Based in Paris, NIT sensors have 15 years of research support, and 25 patents around the globe. Nicolas Baroan, business development manager, says NIT is looking for customers and partners here in Detroit.

OpenFleet. With the goal of making car rental a better experience for the user and more profitable for dealers and rental agencies, OpenFleet is a digital mobility solution that directs the user to the vehicle, unlocks the door, allows for vehicle inspection and reporting, and increases use potential for assets. OpenFleet has 25 customers in Paris and Montreal, and wants to scale, according to business development head Bruno Armand.

Ween.AI. Extending the comfort of the living space to the vehicle space, Ween uses the power of AI to learn a driver’s habits and prepares the vehicle to be ready, warm, and welcoming. A smartphone app learns the routines of your everyday life and embeds the information into the car for maximum efficiency. Founded in 2014, Ween has 19 patents, says key account manager Lucille Motton.
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