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Orlie Dahan, Executive Director at EcoMotion

Orlie Dahan: "Smart transportation is towards its tipping point"

GoTo Mobility interviews smart mobility leaders so that we can learn from each other, share our news and industry concerns. EcoMotion is a smart transportation community from Israel, a joint venture of Israeli Innovation Institute, Fuel Choices and Smart Mobility Initiative and Ministry of Economy and Industry.
By Katya Rozenoer
Orlie Dahan
Executive Director at EcoMotion
Orlie Dahan is EcoMotion's Executive Director, responsible for all the aspects of the community growth.

Orlie has been working in the transportation industry for almost 10 years, starting her journey with co-founding an electric motorcycle company Blitz Motors.

Today, EcoMotion is a community of 8000 members and more than 600 mobility startups and the key ecosystem organizer.

How do you normally commute?
I own a Blitz electric motorcycle, produced by an Israeli company which I co-founded back in 2011. When I'm not riding it I take Bird but I also try all the shared transport available.

What excites you about the transportation industry today?
We are towards the tipping point with MaaS. More and more people are using MaaS services and the global ecosystem is growing. I see companies with solid roadmaps, I see governments working on regulations to embrace the innovations. The most fascinating thing is that we do not exactly know yet how things will be, but we know for sure that they will change.
Who should put autonomous shuttles on the streets? Who should finance them? Who should gather and own the data?
What are the things that are broken in the industry now? Something you look at and say "it should not be like that, here is how it should be."
Right now, in the new world of mobility it is not really clear who does what and who should do what. Startups are looking at municipalities, municipalities are looking at the ministry and ministry is looking at startups. Roles are not clearly defined: who should put autonomous shuttles on the streets? Who should finance them? Who should gather and own the data? Right now, I see a very strong need in removing bottlenecks that slow down innovation. For that we need to define the market players roles and create clear and transparent processes for cooperation. The goal should be to allow organizations to act independently but to also make them accountable for what they do.
What is the hardest challenge EcoMotion is tackling now?
Two things:
The first one is creating intelligent customers for mobility innovations. For that we designed a course for municipality managers, called "Smart Transportation, NOW!" It covers topics surrounding modern transportation. We are starting our second batch which will be dedicated to such topics as: data – what it means today, how it is collected and stored; what is MaaS; what is happening with electric vehicles, what is the situation with autonomous; why promote car sharing and how; what to do with parking; how to handle publicity and how to facilitate the needed change in citizens' behavior. The course is one day a month and lasts for 6 months. We call it a "cognitive warm up" for implementation and testing new mobility pilots. This course gives the officials a good idea of the new transportation models they will be orchestrating and promoting.

The second one is our 7th EcoMotion Main Event in June. EcoMotion's Main Event brings together the world's leading companies in the Smart Transportation sector. As the global ecosystem keeps growing, the Main Event grew into an entire EcoMotion Week (10-13 of June 2019) to provide the community with more opportunities to network and interact. We believe business is done human to human and not logo to logo, so we created many engaging activities such as cocktail events, happy hours, B2B sessions, speed-dating with industry leaders, workshops and more.
Drawing international attention, the Main Event is now a global event for innovation in transportation, where startups enjoy friendly discussions with industry leaders, C-level executives and policy makers. During the week we will showcase 130 startups and – for the first time – 10 startups from abroad, by the way, application is open until April 17th.
Five years ago, what could you and what could not you imagine in the 2019 transportation landscape?
It was hard to imagine the scale of change that will be happening now. We started EcoMotion back in 2012, and at the time we had to decide whether we should start building an ecosystem for transportation or for agriculture – the two industries we believed would be undergoing the major change in the following years. We went with transportation because we anticipated a stronger growth but the actual community was very small. We could not imagine we would grow to hundreds of startups, innovation labs and multinational R&D centers in Israel and that we would reach $5.7B in investment volume (not including the Intel Mobileye deal which brought it to $21B). Now 7 years later the Israel Innovation Institute has opened a sister community for agriculture tech, called GrowingIL.

Now imagine 2024: you are in a middle of a city, looking around. What do you see?
Less vehicles on the streets and definitely no privately owned ones. I believe we will be seeing a lot of private public transportation services like the ones your company GoTo Mobility is enabling - shared electric cars, shared bikes, kick-scooters as well as on demand autonomous shuttles and more.
What industry book would you recommend to those interested in transportation and mobility?
A book that was recommended to me by several people from the transportation community is called "Start-Up City: Inspiring Private and Public Entrepreneurship, Getting Projects Done, and Having Fun" by Gabe Klein and David Vega-Barachowitz. In the book, they talk a lot about driving big changes in the cities fast (and we know it is not easy) and also talk about a phenomenon of "public entrepreneurship", a startup-like energy within the public sector. Since this is something EcoMotion is trying to promote and facilitate their ideas resonate with me o lot!

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