Annual report as PDF
The interview is part of the annual report and also available in PDF format.
What happened next?
The crucial milestone for our expansion abroad was when we successfully broke into the US market. It is very difficult to gain a foothold there, because American companies want to see reference projects in their own country before signing a contract. We succeeded in installing a passenger counting system on the West Coast and a fleet control system (ITCS) on the East Coast at very favourable terms with transport operators. This cost us a lot of effort, but it was worth it. After four years, we had finally made a breakthrough.
In 2001, a new phase in the company’s history began – INIT went public on the German stock exchange. What prompted you to take this step?
We needed fresh capital – firstly to gain a foothold in the North American market but also to develop new products. We raised less capital than we had hoped to, because the stock market segment of the Neuer Markt (the stock exchange’s technology segment at the time), where we were listed, was on the verge of collapse at the time. Investors’ expectations were not that high though. This had its advantages, because it meant we were able to grow at a healthy pace.
For the first 30 years, INIT grew primarily through its own strength. Then you moved on to acquiring other companies. Why this change of strategy?
We want to offer our customers the full range of digital solutions for public transport. Until a few years ago, for example, we did not have any CCTV systems in our portfolio. But transport companies need video technology to prevent vandalism, or to investigate accidents. This is why we bought the Berlin-based company DResearch which is a leader in this field. Another example is the company iris, which provides sensors for automatic passenger counting. These are mounted above the vehicle doors and record the number of people boarding and alighting the vehicle. Among other things, these passenger numbers can be used to indicate which car sections still have available seats.
Transport companies are now facing many challenges. Which solutions does INIT provide to meet these challenges?
A challenge at the moment is the increase in energy costs, which represents a considerable burden for transport companies. We offer solutions that help our customers save energy. This includes the MOBILEefficiency driver assistance system, which is designed to encourage energy-efficient driving. Another example is MOBILE-FLEX, a management system for on-demand public transport which allows transport companies to only serve the journeys that are actually requested, subsequently reducing fuel requirements. We also support transport companies in overcoming all the challenges related to e-mobility. Our MOBILEcharge system, for example, ensures that vehicles are charged on time and in a cost-effective way.
What solutions are you using to drive the transformation of the industry in the long term?
We are working on solutions to make public transport more reliable, more attractive and more efficient while always using the latest technologies and opportunities provided by digitalisation. We already offer our systems in the cloud, and this trend will continue to grow. We also use artificial intelligence, for example to optimise driver duties and routes, for occupancy prediction, and for passenger information. Numerous research projects that we are undertaking with partners also provide us with important innovative ideas. We are currently working on joint projects for AI-based assistance systems to support control centre staff and process traffic data. In the past, our research projects often resulted in successful new products. In the MAVIS research project we developed an app for visuallyimpaired, hearing-impaired, and mobility-impaired passengers.
Where do you see INIT in five years?
I see transport companies mastering today’s and future challenges using INIT technology. Whether it’s saving energy, managing electric vehicles, optimising operational efficiencies, or increasing passenger comfort. This is why I see us continuing to grow strongly, and I am also very confident that we will be able to celebrate successes in markets that we haven’t worked in before.