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CitySwift: data-driven bus scheduling

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“We’re seeing a lot of changes in urban transport. Car ownership is declining in large cities for example, bus sizes are varying, subscription-based transport services are becoming more and more popular, and of course there’s driverless vehicles as well. If we make better use of data, there’s a great opportunity here for everyone,” explains Brian O’Rourke, co-founder of CitySwift.

Set up by Brian and his schoolmate Alan Farrelly, CitySwift is out to optimise the efficiency and service quality of urban bus networks by using big data and predictive analytics: “We integrate our software into the bus company’s system and extract very useful data which we then analyse in order to offer solutions. For example, we helped one client adapt local bus routes to better match demand and supply. That means adjusting to allow for peaks like sporting or music events, or for dips like when a college is closed,” explains Brian. “Alan’s family has been in the bus transport business since the 80s and I’m a software developer myself. We kind of brought the two together and set up the business.”

With clients like the city of Dublin, Reading and Greater Manchester or companies like National Express and Stagecoach, CitySwift are on a mission to match data with reality and optimise the supply of vehicles. “It’s a win-win for everyone. Better services for customers, optimised operations for the bus company and more efficient use of the transport network which is good for the environment and local authorities alike,” Brian adds.

In late 2018, ACT Venture Partners, an Irish venture capital firm backed by the EIF, recognised the opportunity and made an important investment in CitySwift, which helped the company make the jump to the next level: “For us, the challenge was first to get the necessary seed funding to develop the product. Then it’s a question of bringing in the right people to scale and reach out beyond the UK and Ireland. We’re already in talks in Paris, Berlin and Vienna. ACT came in at the right time and brought not only financing, but very useful experience. They’ve really helped us grow,” explains Brian.

But the process of attracting venture capital investors was also useful at another level: “The market for seed funding is very competitive. So the process of pitching to investors was a great health-check for us. We were pushed to deliver and forced to ask ourselves difficult questions. It’s what you’d probably call ‘good pain’ at the end of the day.”

Company: CitySwift (Ireland)

Type of business: transport, ICT

EIF financing: InnovFin Equity

Financial intermediary: ACT Venture Capital

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Ireland, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/ie

 

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