Episode 5: Martin Randelhoff, Future Mobility


Emerging technologies will challenge whole industries and transform the way we travel


About Martin Randelhoff: Fascination for transport and mobility since early childhood

Martin Randelhoff is the founder and publisher of the impactful german blog Zukunft Mobilität where he talks about all topics concerning transport and mobility. In particular, he discusses how we can successfully build sustainable and efficient traffic systems and how our cities and our transportation will look in the future. Randelhoff is also a research associate at the  Technical University in Dortmund and advises companies and institutions on urban development and transport planning.

These topics have fascinated him ever since he was a 10-year-old boy. At the train station in his hometown of Hof, Randelhoff regularly waited on a bridge stretching across the trackbed for his commuting father to return. From this bridge, he could also observe all activities happening on an adjacent container terminal.

These early observations arguably already shaped his decision to later study “transportation economics” in Dresden. This was also where he published his first articles. In the meantime, “Z/M” has established itself as an essential source of information in German-speaking countries.

Additionally, he provides his approx. 13.000 followers on Twitter with the latest news and also uses this media channel as a discussion board.


Mobility and transport are not the same things

Frimeso: How do you define the term “mobility”?

Randelhoff: Mobility is my opportunity to change locations to satisfy my individual needs. When I’m hungry, I need food that I have to get from the store. My secondary need for mobility derives from the primary objective of getting some food.

The difference between transport and mobility is that I have to use one of the different modes of transport to get to the store. If I live right next to the store, I can go by foot, if not, I’ll need a different means of transport.

As distances have become bigger, the demand for transport has enormously increased. On the other hand, the level of mobility has remained almost the same. We take 3.3 trips a day. Women in their 30s mostly make 4, 4 journeys, as they are often still in charge of childcare. 85% of the population is mobile, 15% is immobile and never leaves the house. In total, we are on the move for 72 minutes.


Mobility, working, and business travel in times of COVID and thereafter

Frimeso: To what extent has the mobility of people in general changed with the emergence of the COVID crisis?

Randelhoff: In March and April of 2020, there was a substantial decrease in mobility. People stayed at home and clustered their errands. This development has levelled out at where it was in “pre-COVID times” during the second and third waves. There is practically no difference to be noted anymore. There is a shift, though, from public transport to individual means of transportation, such as bikes, cars, and walking.

Frimeso: What impact will the COVID crisis have on our mobility and transport habits in the long run? 

Randelhoff: COVID was a turning point for transport and mobility. By now, home office is seen as a possible alternative to traditional work at the office. In the long run, it’s likely that many people won’t have to come into the office every day but will work from home for one or two days a week.

For business travel, there seems to be the consensus that many one-day business trips for one meeting aren’t needed anymore. Digital possibilities are simply too great.


Climate protection as a central point of the shift in mobility and transport

Frimeso: Everybody talks about climate protection. So, what are the critical aspects of the German climate change policy concerning business travel and commuting?

Randelhoff: One of the top priorities is strengthening Deutsche Bahn by expanding its infrastructure and providing the funds to buy more trains. (Note: On this topic, refer to the interview with Jan-Wolf Baake, DB, Head of Sales for Business Clients.)

In road transport, a lot is being done for infrastructure development to charge electric vehicles with renewable electricity. However, there are still a number of questions to be answered here.

Frimeso: You write that CO2 emissions in transportation couldn’t be lowered yet. Why is that? 

Randelhoff: Since 1990, transport is the only sector we haven’t managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for.

Our mileage has increased significantly since 1990. Potential savings from increasingly efficient engines were compensated by purchasing progressively larger vehicles. During the last years, we have benefited from an enormous level of prosperity. The result is that households now own several cars and enjoy traveling to distant countries by plane. In addition to that, there is much more exchange between companies in Germany. We also see an increased exchange of services and goods within the European single market. Equal rights for women, which were long overdue as such, resulted in two employees per household commuting to their workplace. Bottom line, there are several societal factors that you can’t simply solve using technology.


Gas is actually cheaper today than it was 18 years ago

Frimeso: You also mention that the current prices of CO2 have no incentive effect. How expensive does gas have to be for people to change their driving habits? 

Randelhoff: Charging for CO2 emissions in transportation would definitely have a positive incentive effect. Polluters would be charged with the consequential damage they caused. This creates incentives to reduce CO2 emissions.

With the energy tax, fuel taxation actually already exists. The intention was to guarantee that there would be an annual cost increase of 2%, either through an increase in the price of crude oil or through a corresponding increase in energy tax. In fact, the last time taxes were increased was 18 years ago. Due to inflation, gasoline and diesel are actually cheaper today than they were in 2003.

There would have to be a substantial increase in those CO2 prices. Introducing a CO2 price of 8 cents, as it’s planned, is far from sufficient. 


Electric cars: advantage through efficiency

Frimeso: Will electric cars completely replace  fossil-fuelled vehicles? Or are there still alternatives for competitive forms of propulsion?

Randelhoff: Both the EU‘s requirements and reconstructing measures within the automotive industry indicate that most new registrations will soon be for electric cars. Plus, various manufacturers have already announced that they are now developing the last generation of combustion engines.

For passenger cars, battery-powered engines have a big lead that nothing will be able to catch up with for a while.

Roughly speaking, there are two categories of engines: engines that run on fossil fuels and engines powered by renewable energies. Then, there are several subcategories. Each of these technologies has a different efficiency level and energy rate. The bottom line is that an electric car can go up to 4 kilometers further than a vehicle with a combustion engine and up to 8 kilometers further than a vehicle powered by synthetic fuel. Hydrogen and synthetic fuel will also be significantly more expensive due to costs for conversion and transportation.


<a href="https://www.freepik.com/photos/business">Business photo created by katemangostar - www.freepik.com</a>

The future of our cities – less space for cars, more space for others.

Frimeso: In the cities, the goal is to make people use public transport more or motivate them to use their bicycles. Looking at German cities, however, space is limited. How can this still work?

Randelhoff: When you aim to promote other means of transport, cars will have to give up space. This is done, for example, by creating more zones with a speed limit of 30 km/h or with structurally isolated infrastructures for the remaining modes of transport. Often, you can save on parking spaces or give up a moving walkway. It takes four months for people to get used to the new situation, and a new balance will be created. Today, cities are considered residential spaces, where a large part of economic activity occurs. To be competitive, cities have to become more attractive – thus, it’s not only a question of immediate environmental protection. 


“Electrification and automation will drastically change transportation.”

Frimeso: What will transport be like in 20 years?

Randelhoff: Electrification and automation will drastically change transportation.

The change in engines will be heard, seen, and smelled. Non-motorized transport and transport using LEVs (Light Electric Vehicles) will increase and diversify. Examples are e-scooters, e-motorcycles, e-bikes, air cabs in rural areas, or electric cabin scooters with 6 or 8 seats for public transport or private use.

For freight, we’ll see more drones and delivery bots on the streets. Rescue helicopters could be replaced by rescue drones. Yet, there won’t be a complete change in vertical transport mobility. It would simply cause too much of a stir to have aerial devices permanently flying overhead. In addition, these means of air transportation consume a lot of energy, which contradicts climate protection goals.

Automation of transportation will have an even more significant impact on transportation and private car ownership. Offering modern mobility involving autonomous vehicles will ensure that many people will do without their personal cars and the associated costs.  

Frimeso:  When will we be driving autonomously all over the country?

Randelhoff: I don’t want to dare make a prediction. Automation will first creep up on us with certain features of comfort and convenience that we already know today. Then, at a later stage, we will experience fully autonomous driving. But plenty is happening already. The company Waymo already offers fully automated ridesharing in the USA. Other companies like Gaussin in France are successful in truck container management automation. In Germany, legislators are already working on the first law to govern automated driving for real-world operations.

In addition to that, automated transport will need to be accepted socially. It will be necessary to determine how to utilize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages. For example, sensor technology will cause autonomous vehicles to travel slower than our passenger cars do today. If pedestrians know that a car will stop when they enter the roadway, they will take advantage of that. Will that be banned? Or will we end up with new versions of car-centric cities? Will we have to rebuild our cities to accommodate this? There is still a lot to be worked out there.


The future of business travel: Hotels will strongly be affected by automation. 

Frimeso: How will automation impact our way of traveling for work?

Randelhoff: Business travel transport will change drastically. There will be fewer domestic flights. Overnight stays in traditional hotels will lessen. At night, you will simply enter the sleeping cabin and take an overnight trip to your destination. In any case, it remains to be seen to what extent people will travel at all. Much will be possible with virtual reality from people’s offices or homes.  

However, as social beings, people will continue to travel, but trips will be more efficient.


I highly recommend the blog Zukunft Mobilität.
Anyone who wants to book Martin Randelhoff as a keynote speaker can find more information here.

© 2021 FRIMESO All rights reserved

Episode 6 – Frank Leyhausen, SENovation Award, Strengthening the Silver Economoy

Frank Leyhausen


“Successful founders talk to the seniors, not about them”


About Frank Leyhausen:

Frank Leyhausen is the director of the management consultancy MedCom International, which helps its customers to address the “third-generation” target group effectively. The Cologne native first came into contact with the senior market as a young marketeer. Ever since then, he can’t seem to shake the subject of our aging society. Thus, his decision to commit himself to this topic with MedCom was only logical.


The SENovation Award – “following the example of America’s culture of startups”

He got the idea to found the SENovation Award when he traveled to the United States, where many innovative products are being developed for the older part of the population. To see how much is possible in a country with a much younger population. The AARP there (the equivalent of the German Seniors’ League), with its approximately 36 million members, has revitalized the startup scene with numerous initiatives. Leyhausen has successfully introduced this dynamic to Germany with the SENovation Award. 20% of the population is 65 or older, making for a vast market of opportunities. The award is intended to raise awareness for the “Silver Economy” among the startup scene in the German-speaking countries.


Involving older people in developing products

Frimeso: On your homepage, you state that those startups can apply who “intentionally target older people.” When is this the case?

Leyhausen: There are traditional products for seniors, like rollators. With many products, though, it’s specifically about making an effort to comprehensively explain the product to older customers and involve older people in the product development process. If you’re developing an app, for example, it should be easy to use. Language has to be used in a way that the target audience will understand. Technical terms and slang can make older people feel excluded from the start. So it’s all about a holistic approach.


Germany still lags behind the USA

Frimeso: You say on your homepage that Germany is not a classic start-up nation compared to countries like the USA. Why is that?

Leyhausen: We don’t have the same entrepreneurial spirit yet.

Thanks to our great social security system, civil service, and a stable labor market, starting a business is primarily considered a risk. Thus, many people start their businesses while continuing to work. People prefer to stay in their well-paid jobs at first. In the US, the risk of losing your job is as high as driving your startup against the wall.


Startups as a lifestyle concept

Frimeso:  It seems to be a general trait of Germans to be afraid of failure, whereas, in America, failure is considered as part of the process.

Leyhausen: Our culture does not cope well with failure. If you fail in the US, it’s: “So, what are you going to do next?”. If you fail in Germany, others may label you a “loser.” There is an inherent fear of being socially sidelined. That is a pity because, personally, I actually learn more from my mistakes. You question mistakes. You celebrate successes.

Still, much is changing in Germany right as we speak. Many want to launch something. We are well on the way. Above all, public perception has changed. Founding a company is now “cool.” A new generation is growing up with a lifestyle concept of shaping their own everyday work life.


Focusing on your key strengths is better than poorly copying the strengths of others

Frimeso: What industry generally has the most startups today?

Leyhausen: Our strengths still lie in engineering. But we are also at the forefront within some tech sectors. We generally look to Silicon Valley too much and always want to digitize everything, even though we are far more skilled in other areas. We should focus on our own strengths. That also applies to “age tech.” Germany has the largest living laboratory in the world. We should focus on what we already have and build on it. That is better than to look to America and copy them poorly.


Target group “Silver Economy” –“ it’s not about age, it’s about the stage.”

Frimeso: How old does one have to be to belong to the target group “Silver Economy”?

Leyhausen: We’re opposed to 50+, 60+, 70+. This segmentation according to calendar age makes no sense. My actual age is of little interest to me and does not define what I need. We live and advise according to the motto: “It’s not about age, it’s about the stage.” It doesn’t matter if someone is 40 or 50. But if they become a caregiver for members of the family during that period, their life changes. Accordingly, startups should seek to define their customers according to changing needs.


“Successful founders talk to the seniors, not about them”

Frimeso: Many founders are younger than their target group. How do these young people manage to empathize with older customers.

Leyhausen: We have a very simple slogan: ‘Talk to the seniors, don’t talk about them.’ Many products are developed with the best interests and best intentions. However, older people should be involved in the development process early on as sparring partners, monitoring bodies, or even innovators. Only those who talk to seniors can be empathetic towards them. Founders ask our seniors far too little.

The challenge of the digital divide – humility and empathy are required in product development

Frimeso: Are older consumers ready for digital innovations? Does the digital divide play a role for innovative start-ups? Is the older part of the population embracing digital innovations?


Leyhausen: There is a digital divide. According to the digital index for Germany there are still almost 12 million people in Germany who are not digital at all. I

Additionally, 40 % percent of the population are digitally sidelined as “minimal onliners”. Digital startups face the challenge of also appealing to this part of the population. The willingness to download an app is relatively low. Therefore, these people need to be instructed, either in person or by employing other means like YouTube videos.

Businesses in Germany generally struggle with tackling the digital divide. Many older people have taken the arduous route of setting up a personal account on the app store. But when they then get an unsolicited update where all of a sudden, the button is right and no longer left, green and no longer red, it frustrates them. These people have always used the remote control and now have to deal with a volatile interface. In the USA, it’s been made possible to call an Uber using your telephone since there wasn’t enough demand from older people for their services on their app. Car manufacturers here should humbly note that the average age of car buyers is 52.


Two of the winners so far: Pflegix, the platform for caregivers, and Rufus, the phone filter

Frimeso: Can you highlight one or two of your winners?

Leyhausen: In 2018, the platform Pflegix won our award. Their concept was compelling. Pflegix connects freelancing caregivers and families looking for caregivers. Today, they are part of a group that acts internationally.

Last year, Rufus – Der Telefonfilter won, a young startup that deals with the topic of phone scams. Every year, millions of euros are made by criminals who pretend to be grandchildren or impersonate police officers on the phone. With the Telefonfilter, the startup has developed a box that is installed between the port and the phone. Unknown or blocked numbers are filtered out as desired. For unknown numbers, however, there is also the option that callers first have to identify themselves or agree to calls being recorded. Rufus collaborated with the police, universities, and Caritas during development and conducted a field test with 100 households. Over 99% percent of them used the box. The company also made sure to use means of control that users already knew, like controlling it using the phone. There’s no app or interface. It’s a simple product that conveys a quality of life and security to people—a genuine product for seniors.

Frimeso: Are there other notable examples of participants who didn’t win but stayed on your mind for other reasons?

Leyhausen: A 66-year-old engineer used a 3D printer to make a plastic disc with an eyelet for his 90-year-old mother to clamp between the ceiling magnet and the smoke detector. His mother could then simply pull down the smoke detector with a broom in the event of a false alarm without having to climb onto a chair.

One submission was about a platform that provides pet chickens for hire. Those chickens are used in therapy for dementia patients as pet animals. Some providers transport the chickens for hire to care facilities. This platform would then allow owners to market their chickens.


Key aspects of the SENovation Award:


Participation of requirements:
Two types of company are awarded:

  • Young startups, (maximum three years old)
  • Pre-founders who haven’t founded yet but can present a compelling concept

The product has to be relevant for older people and be able to be established on the market.


Application deadline: June 30th.
Final: September 22nd.
Application via the SENovation Awards website

€5.000 per winner and intensive coaching for the companies
All participants benefit from the enormous exposure through participation
Members of the jury are the managing director of the German Seniors League and the CEO of the Signal Iduna Group, as well as a diverse  group of experts from a wide variety of disciplines. The pitches also take place in front of selected members of the silver economy.


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