Renske Martijnse-Hartikka started working at City of Helsinki innovation unit Forum Virium Helsinki. Her job is to bring the autonomous robot buses in the streets of Helsinki, operating as a fleet and as a part of public transportation.
How are you going to bring the robot busses in the streets of Helsinki?
“From January onwards I have been the Project Coordinator of the FABULOS project. A European three-year project with seven partners from Finland, Portugal, Norway, Estonia, Netherlands and Greece. My job is basically to make sure the project runs smoothly and reaches its goals. FABULOS focuses on how cities can use self-driving buses in a systematic way. Automated minibuses have been tested on a small scale in various technical demonstrations around the world, but proof that autonomous fleets can operate as part of the public transportation system is not yet available. The aim is therefore to “buy” the operations of such an automated bus line, through a Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) process. This means we ask companies to first make a concept design how they would solve this challenge. Then, a selection of these companies are asked to develop a prototype and carry out lab tests. Finally, after another evaluation round, a small number of companies or consortia is invited to do field testing. This means that in 2020 multiple European partner cities will have a fleet of self-driving minibuses going around for several months, open for everyone to use. FABULOS has nearly € 5.5 million reserved to financially support these external suppliers. From 2021 onwards, after FABULOS has ended, they can then commercialise their tried-and-tested service and sell it to cities around the globe.”
Where have you worked before?
“I have around fifteen years of experience in both the private and public sector. After a Master in Political Science and International Relations I worked for some time at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and later at the Dutch Embassy in Finland. Throughout my career I worked on European integration and policies, but only the past ten years with a distinct sustainable urban mobility point of view. I spent these nearly ten years at a Dutch mobility consultancy and research firm called DTV Consultants, where I developed my skills as a project manager of European urban mobility projects. I had different roles: e.g. sometimes as overall coordinator, sometimes as project partner: implementing mobility pilots in Dutch cities. I therefore have experience both in the workings of municipalities and the challenges they face, as well as in coordination of international consortia. Working with European stakeholders, in an intercultural atmosphere is something I enjoy and I can bring to my current position too.”
What got you interested of Forum Virium Helsinki as an employer?
“I especially enjoy that I now work for and with “my own city”, for the first time in my life. I have lived in Helsinki all in all for around twelve years now, most of the time in the centre, close to where the FVH office is. It therefore feels like the mobility advantages and challenges of a big city happen right on my doorstep. I feel very motivated to make the city as sustainable and future-proof as possible and FVH has an amazing track record in this respect. My new colleagues have built up an excellent international network and reputation over the years. It is really existing to be part of the development of Helsinki into the most functional city in the world.”
What is special about Helsinki Smart City?
“Helsinki is changing its role from authority to enabler. It not only claims that it wants to provide a testbed for, among others, innovative mobility projects: the city really makes it happen and I think this is rare in Europe. The fleet of self-driving minibuses that will hit the streets of Helsinki in 2020 because of the FABULOS pilot is an excellent example of this. Full autonomous mobility might not be here yet for years to come, but I’m proud to be able to contribute to this big step forward that we intend to make in the coming three years.”
What do you do for fun?
“Two small children take up much of my time after work. But I do find time to play flute, which I have done for many years. I’m currently learning to play jazz and blues, which is a challenge! Cooking, swimming and concerts are also things I gladly spend my time on and we try to visit family and friends in the Netherlands regularly. Twice a month my children attend Dutch school, while I catch up with other Dutch parents who have also had the luck to end up in this fabulous country.”
Welcome Renske, it is fantastic to have you in our company!
Forum Virium Helsinki is the innovation unit of the City of Helsinki, which aims to build Helsinki into the most functional smart city in the world in collaboration with companies, the scientific community and residents. Follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter!