Ford gives cash to start-ups working on connected new apps

Ever worry because you feel guilty commuting in a car with empty seats?


Well, thanks to Ford your car could become a source of income during your journey and even help you to make new friends thanks to an innovative app that fills empty car seats and connects like-minded drivers and riders based on location and route.


The idea, from French-based start-up Zify, is among three winning apps from Ford’s Make It Driveable AppLink challenge – each receiving €10,000 and an opportunity to work further with Ford. Others selected were Acast, which offers podcast streams tailored to the driver’s commute, interests and time of day; and RouteValet, which brings multi-modal private and public transportation into one journey‑planning app.


Ford’s SYNC connectivity system enables drivers to voice-control smartphone apps from the driver’s seat and to access them using a touchscreen. For the challenge, Ford received more than 70 applications from European mobility, telematics, parking, productivity and entertainment start-ups; with the 20 that were shortlisted already offering in‑market applications and solutions and the potential to be fast-tracked for use with Ford vehicles.


Executive mentors supported the teams, which tested the apps using Ford hardware and presented their ideas directly to Ford customers, from France and other European countries, in moderated focus groups. This feedback will both be used by Ford to gain insight into what customers want from future apps, as well as being shared with the start-ups. The carpooling app from Zify, already the largest online marketplace for carpooling in India, first matches people according to desired journey – but could then pair those who like to chat, prefer to remain silent, or listen to the radio, for example.


Ford has run app challenges in Berlin, Dublin and Tel Aviv, and provides software and technology to the app developer community through the SYNC AppLink Developer Program – with more than 15,000 registered users. The free SYNC Emulator software enables developers to create and test apps for compatibility with Ford’s connectivity system without needing to access an actual vehicle.