UK-based Third Space Auto are expanding, and Helsinki Business Hub are along for the ride! With a development team already in India, the ambitious smart mobility startup opened up an R&D unit on Aalto Campus last spring. In addition to autonomous driving, its award-winning technology is currently being applied to drones. To top it off, the company is looking to go from 11 to 30 employees in two years’ time.
Third Space Auto offer intuitive artificial intelligence for autonomous operating systems – and they do it better than most. The company won the Defence Innovation Award at the TechConnect Defence Innovation Summit (DITAC) and it was selected by Disruptor Daily as one of the top 10 companies to watch using AI to disrupt transportation. Their secret: focusing on providing the perfect autonomous experience based on convenience, comfort, safety and AI that intuitively reacts to and learns from its surroundings.
Finland was an easy choice
The diverse team at Third Space Auto is lead from the UK and spread across the world with developers working in Canada, Jordan, India and now Finland. Contrary to the industry standard, the majority of Third Space Auto’s world-class knowhow is based on highly qualified women, like founder and CEO Arshia Gratiot herself. Having spent years working for Nokia, Mrs. Gratiot was not only familiar with the Finland’s long heritage in technology and leader position within the Mobility-as-a-Service sector (MaaS), but also a fan of Finnish culture. As Brexit created uncertain terrain for attracting talents to the UK, Mrs. Gratiot set the company sights on Helsinki.
“It is easy to be in Finland. Everyone speaks English and the business environment is very encouraging – Helsinki has a very positive community of support. Business Finland was very fast in incentivising and Helsinki Business Hub very helpful in supporting our move. We received information, assistance and contacts regarding all our needs from funding to lawyers and industry programs to office space. My e-mail was constantly pinging with valuable information and contacts,” Mrs. Gratiot describes.
It is easy to be in Finland. Everyone speaks English and the business environment is very encouraging – Helsinki has a very positive community of support.
In a specific business sector such as AI in automated mobility, being well-connected within the industry is key. Helsinki Business Hub’s connections within the Helsinki Smart Mobility and MaaS ecosystem have helped the company get familiarized and networked with potential partners and piloting opportunities. Currently Third Space Auto can be found at A Grid at Aalto University Campus. Working from Finland’s centre of innovation offers a perfect terrain: it surrounds the company with interesting opportunities, and also enables testing and piloting the software on land and air vehicles alike without having to constantly apply for permits and licenses.
Endless possibilities and enhanced user experiences
Mrs. Gratiot’s years at Nokia saw her, among other projects, as part of the mobile giant’s Ovi Maps go-to-market team – a game changer of its time. The visionary entrepreneur believes that there is a lot to be learned from mobile phones where revenue streams and differentiation now come from user experiences rather than hardware.
“We harness AI to be the conductor seamlessly working without human intervention within a swarm of varied operators: CCTV, mobile apps, robots etc. Even if one agent drops out or connectivity is lost, the group can reorganize and compensate much like ants in a colony. In the future, boundaries between ground and air vehicles will blur anyway. My MO is head in the clouds, feet on the ground,” Mrs. Gratiot explains.
Although the company started off serving automotive and AI industries, it has recently begun to work within aviation as well. While autonomous driving is still a major focus, the startup quickly realized that in-house experience and skill sets could be applied to develop drones. Mrs. Gratiot illustrates the possibilities:
“Drones are helpful when it comes to gathering information, documenting the condition of bridges for example. But we are often left with a ton of footage to analyse. What if the drone could not just record but also seek, examine and evaluate what it sees and then report the relevant information possibly even with a ready solution? AI and our technology make that possible. The applications are endless.”
The coming years are all about taking action and showing what Third Space Auto is capable of. Mrs. Gratiot is hoping to grow her Helsinki-based R&D team of 5 to 20 and turn her total staff count from 11 to 30 by the end of 2020. Other ambitious goals will have the company working on building demos to present partners and making more connections to leverage the opportunities of the tight-knit mobility ecosystem with the help of Helsinki Business Hub.