(Photo by Tyler Woods)
One of the most interesting companies in the new Urban-X cohort of startups is Qucit, a French company working on “digitalizing” urban space.
We met Qucit at Urban-X’s debut of its new startups in September, but wanted to find out more about who they are and what they’re up to.
The following has been edited lightly for length.
What was the problem you saw that you set out to solve?
Challenges for cities facing an urban world are everywhere from transportation, pollution, resource management. Fast-growing urbanization has led to a real need to optimize urban services while absorbing this new demand. In the meantime, concentration of people means interaction between people and people to machine: more data! By using data and turn cities into quantified cities, we can make them more efficient and livable for all.
How are you solving it?
Data explosion from various sources led many people to think challenges would be solved easily. However, the human brain can’t process so much data. This is the whole point of using artificial intelligence technology such as machine-learning.
We are digitalizing a space (street, city or even highway) by combining every source of data, including: static data: (urban infrastructure), dynamic data (calendar, weather data, events, traffic), sensors data (air pollution, noise, connected vehicles). We turn them into useful insights by using machine learning models.
Predictions are used by our customer to solve complex urban phenomena such as: bike sharing redistribution to get a well-balanced system, parking management to guide riders to the optimal solution, a way to reduce time to look for a free parking spot and improve air quality of city, and optimizing safety patrols on highways by anticipating incidents.
Who are your founders?
The founder of Qucit is Raphaël Cherrier. Raphaël is a data science expert, entrepreneur and the CEO of Qucit. He’s been programming and playing with numbers since primary school and has always been passionate about two things: understanding the world through mathematical modelling and protecting the environment.
Raphaël entered the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon at 18, the youngest in France, and earned a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics of Complex Systems. He then took a tenure as a researcher, working on CO2 storage with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In September 2013, he left his research position to create Qucit and work full time on improving urban mobility using Artificial Intelligence. He completed his formation at HEC Paris where he was awarded the Prize for Best Business Plan by a jury of experts, entrepreneurs and investors.
What are you hoping to get out of being in the Urban-X accelerator?
Urban-X is a wonderful opportunity for us to work on several aspects of our businesses such as: products, business development or marketing. We are very lucky to be guided by experts into each of this field.
It is also the perfect way to step in the U.S. market and get a better understanding of U.S. customer by being mentored by famous entrepreneurs.