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“The road infrastructure in Luxembourg is sufficient, but the current situation is that only 1.2 people on average are in each car and this is simply not sustainable,” says Nicolas Back, Kussbus co-founder and COO. “We need to find ways of getting more people into each vehicle. Public transport helps of course, but it does not meet the needs of everyone.” The Kussbus offer is somewhere between public and individual transportation and consists of 19-seat buses with timetables and itineraries fully adapted to the needs of the users. Clients can reserve their trip via a smartphone app indicating their home and work addresses. A unique algorithm defines pick- up points that are suitable for several people and optimises the journeys. “Passengers don’t have to walk more than 5 minutes from their homes to get to the bus, and they are dropped off in close vicinity to their workplace,” Mr Back explains proudly. “Due to the journey calculations made by the algorithm, we are also able to avoid making extensive detours that would be annoying for the first passengers who get on the bus.”

Web-based enthusiasm

Mr Back and his business partner, Jean-Luc Rippinger, came up with their idea after seeing a system of shared transportation for the employees in a German BMW factory. “Before investing a lot of money in developing the service, we wanted to find out whether there was a real interest on the market,” he says. “In late 2016, we launched a promotion campaign on the internet. The response was overwhelming: in one month, 5,600 people registered their interest in our offer.” The company also pitched its idea to Luxinnovation to get advice.

Armed with this clear proof of customer interest, Kussbus contacted potential investors  and began exploring the possibilities of receiving financial support from the Ministry of the Economy. Luxinnovation stepped in again to help the company determine the most suitable aid measure and prepare an aid application. “The start-up support team reviewed our business plan and financial model in great depth and asked a lot of relevant questions,” says Mr Back. “With the help of Luxinnovation, we were able to prepare a very solid request for ‘Young Innovative Enterprise’ support that was quickly processed and approved by the Ministry.” Kussbus also raised funds from private investors.

After an intensive year of development, a successful test run of the Kussbus service was conducted in December 2017 and the service has started to run between Belgian Arlon and Luxembourg City. Now the company is just waiting for the last formal transport authorisations from all countries concerned to launch its full-scale services. “Our business works if people are willing to change their travelling habits. This might take some time, but I’m sure it will come,” says Mr Back, who also thinks that some potential clients need to see the system running in order to trust that they will really arrive at work on time. For him, launching the commuting service is but a first step.

International ambitions

“While there clearly is a peak in demand during work hours, we see a potential for offering additional services during day time. Some clients are interested in using our transportation to go to work meetings, and others have asked whether we can take children to music or sports lessons or provide transport for elderly people. This type of services could be developed on our platform at a second stage,” says Mr Back, whose visions stretch well beyond Luxembourg and the Greater Region. “There are other European cities – for instance Basel, Geneva, Antwerp or Brussels – that have a similar situation to that of Luxembourg. Once our system is fully working here, we will look into an international expansion.”

Luxinnovation offers a range of start-up services with innovation at the heart of our value proposition as well as advice and support for applying for national funding.

Luxinnovation contributes to the economic development of Luxembourg by fostering innovation, fuelling international growth and attracting foreign direct investment and is supported by: Ministry of the Economy, Ministry for Higher Education and Research, Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg Chamber of Skilled Crafts and FEDIL – The Voice of Luxembourg’s Industry.

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