Frankfurt. The finalists in the Next Visionaries contest instigated by BMW i and TED yesterday pitched their ideas live to an invited audience of 500 guests from the creative scene, business community and media. The jury went on to crown Sandra Phillips as the competition winner thanks to her vision of car sharing, which pays particular attention to social and extra-urban factors. “Like all the other finalists, Sandra Phillips has thought outside the box. Her concept is already quite advanced and also considers the aspect of social change,” says Hildegard Wortmann, Senior Vice President Brand BMW and member of the Next Visionaries jury, providing some background on the decision.
Nikolas Peter, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Finance, likewise emphasises the relevance of social aspects when it comes to shaping the future: “For more than 100 years, the BMW Group stands for visionary thinking and technological advancement. We always put people in the center when considering future development. For us, it is crucial that innovation first and foremost delivers added value for our customers, employees and society.”
Sandra Phillips grew up in Switzerland and now lives in Vancouver, Canada. Her underlying ideas have been inspired by her professional experience in the development of car-sharing systems. She sees shared mobility with electrically powered and autonomous vehicles as having as yet unrecognised potential – outside of Europe and North America, in particular. Her vision includes a car-sharing infrastructure which could complement local public transport in places lacking safe, reliable and universally affordable mobility. Autonomous rental cars could ensure a reasonably priced and secure mobility option for women and children, in particular.
The winner’s prize – and the next step for Sandra Phillips – is the green light to prepare for the TED stage in New York, where she will present her idea in a full-length TED Talk in November.
The venue for the final round of the ideas competition, broadcast in a live stream, was the BMW Group’s “Vision Loop” at the IAA Cars 2017 show. The stage set up in the centre of Hall 11 at the Frankfurt trade fair site – and ringed by a race track – made the ideal platform for the live pitches, each lasting three minutes. The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), granted special access to the site for this event, five days before the IAA opens its doors to the public. This is because the Next Visionaries competition perfectly complements the VDA’s “New Mobility World” showcase, which opens on 14 September to coincide with the show’s trade days.
Sunday night’s final marked the culmination of the inaugural Next Visionaries competition organised jointly by BMW i and TED, which saw 180 entrants providing a visionary image of tomorrow’s world. The call for submissions to the competition in the areas of technology, the environment and human interaction, complete with the prospect of joining the legendary ranks of high-profile TED speakers, prompted worldwide interest from a wide array of creative thinkers.
The Next Visionaries competition is a collaboration between the BMW i brand, which specialises in the development of sustainable vehicle concepts and mobility solutions, and the non-profit organisation TED, which is renowned for seeking out and spreading innovative new ideas. The cooperation aims to draw attention to promising and ground breaking visions in the field of mobility. Its focus is on technology concepts, product ideas, services and infrastructure solutions capable of making significant advances in the areas of technology, the environment and human interaction.
Ideas for the mobility of the future – from the IAA Cars show in Frankfurt to the TED stage in New York.
The Next Visionaries competition has given creative pioneers the chance to share their innovative approaches, concepts and strategies on an open platform and, in so doing, initiate the ideas exchange on the linked social media channels. “The large number of competition contributions and in-depth discussions sparked within the community show how the subject of mobility has energised and inspired creative minds around the world,” says Hildegard Wortmann. Bruno Giussani, TED International Curator and programme host, adds that “TED gives creative thinkers and their most fascinating ideas a way to reach curious viewers all over the world. The collaboration with BMW i is intended to provide a mouthpiece and platform for an exciting new way of thinking about all aspects of future mobility.”
A total of more than 180 visions were entered for the Next Visionaries contest within the timeframe for submission, which was limited to a few weeks. The most promising contributions were posted for discussion in edited form at A selection committee made up of experts from BMW i and TED then chose six entrants for the final round in Frankfurt. They were assigned experienced mentors – all TED speakers themselves – who helped them prepare for their pitches in the run-up to the IAA Cars 2017 show.
Six finalists, six visions of our future mobile lifestyle.
The other five finalists in the Next Visionaries contest selected by BMW i and TED likewise reveal a wide spectrum of ideas for our future mobile lifestyle. And their visions advance the cause of environmental, economic and social sustainability in the field of personal mobility.
Ira Munn made it into the final round with his concept of an electrically powered three-wheeled micro car. Originally from Los Angeles but now living in New Zealand, Ira focussed on sustainability in various different areas. He designed a car – which he christened “Drop” – to be built from recyclable plastic in a 3D printing process and launched onto the market in self-build kit form priced at around 10,000 dollars. Even novice car constructors should be able to assemble the “Drop” within 20 hours, and a range of over 300 kilometres (186 miles) is claimed.
Self-driving electric vehicles enabling subscription-based reservation lie at the heart of Tom Moloughney’s vision. The American has looked at ways of fully integrating car-sharing vehicles into the energy infrastructure. The idea here is to enable vehicles to charge their batteries (with solar-generated power) inductively via charging loops in the road surface – and to be capable of feeding power back into the grid to secure the power supply. They would also be connected with the internet at all times, so users would be permanently online.
Aarjav Trivedi envisages the future of personal mobility in shared mobility using autonomous vehicles. Also from the US, Aarjav concentrated his attentions on an innovative form of personalisation made possible by a wide variety of model variants. His idea is that users can request a vehicle to suit their needs – in other words, one they can sleep, host parties, enjoy a spot of wellness or watch movies in.
Sebastian Gabor, meanwhile, views the vehicle of the future no longer as a means of transport but as a reliable companion in all situations. Originally from Romania and currently living in Spain, the IT specialist wants to see vehicles used as permanently connected information hubs, which help occupants to plan appointments, provide them with useful knowledge on their destination and route, and lay on an aptly chosen music playlist for the time of day and occasion at hand.
Jeremiah Owyang from the USA sees the vehicle of the future securing its place in society as an intelligent, emission-free and comfortable means of transport. His vision centres around autonomous electric vehicles – with spacious interiors and generous equipment levels – which turn travelling into a completely new experience. Instead of taking a short flight to a destination and staying overnight in a hotel, users would be able to work, relax, sleep and have breakfast during their journey – i.e. they can make convenient and efficient use of their time on the move.
About TED Founded in 1984, the first TED conferences were held in Monterey, California. In 2006, TED experimented with putting TED Talk videos online for free – a decision that opened the doors to a radically new model for sharing ideas: today there are more than 2,400 TED Talks available for free on, which are viewed about a billion times a year. Thanks to the support of thousands of volunteer translators, there are close to 100,000 published translations of TED Talks in over 110 languages. TEDx, the licensing program that allows communities to produce independently organized TED events, has seen 21,500 events held worldwide.
About BMW i BMW i is a BMW Group brand focusing on visionary vehicle concepts, connected mobility services and a new understanding of premium strongly defined by sustainability. BMW i is represented in 54 countries with the BMW i3 electric car for metropolitan areas, BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car and plug-in hybrid BMW iPerformance Automobiles. BMW i opens up new target groups for the company and serves as an incubator for innovations. Technologies which have debuted successfully in BMW i cars are carried over to parent brand BMW’s other models. BMW i is also associated with enterprises including DriveNow (car sharing in Europe), ReachNow (car sharing in the US), ChargeNow (easy access to the world’s largest network of charging points), ParkNow (straightforward location, reservation and payment of parking spaces), BMW i Ventures (investment in start-up companies), BMW Energy Services and the Centre of Competence for Urban Mobility (consultancy for cities).