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london (9)

Silver Level Contributor
The Tower Transit buses will be primarily charged overnight at the depot

London bus operator Tower Transit is introducing 37 fully electric double-decker buses in the UK capital. The company, part of the SeaLink Travel Group, is working with Siemens Smart Infrastructure to install the charging infrastructure.

Westbourne Park garage, on the Great Western Road, is the operator’s first depot in London incorporating fully electric routes with power infrastructure, maintenance and charging facilities. Bus routes 23 and C3 operate from the Westbourne Park site.

Zero emissions

The first few Optare Metrodecker zero-emission double-deckers are already in operation with the remaining fleet expected to be in service in the coming months.

The conversion of the Westbourne Park depot is part of the capital’s plans to deliver greener and cleaner transport for all Londoners. The Metrodecker electric vehicles (EVs) deployed by Tower Transit will reportedly save more than 1,800 tons in greenhouse gas emissions well-to-wheel in each year of operation versus a Euro VI bus.

“As part of our aim, to tackle London’s air-quality crisis, we are continuing to grow our electric bus fleet, which is already one of the largest in Europe,” said Claire Mann, Transport for London’s (TfL) director of bus operations.

She added: “To support this growth, we need the right infrastructure in place. This new charging facility at Westbourne Park is another step in the right direction. Not only do electric buses reduce emissions but they also provide customers with smoother, quieter journeys and the new double deck Optare buses on routes 23 and C3 will come with the latest safety features and include USB chargers at seats. 

Siemens has provided 34 AC and four DC Sicharge units (AC22 and UC200) supplying a total charging power of 2 megawatts at the refitted Westbourne Park garage. The charging infrastructure is sited on the 180-metre elevated bus deck extension that was built over railway lines as part of the Crossrail project in 2017.

“As part of our aim, to tackle London’s air-quality crisis, we are continuing to grow our electric bus fleet, which is already one of the largest in Europe”

Buses are recharged primarily overnight or during operational breaks via the AC22s. The high-power UC200 DC charging-units provide fast charging; transferring power three times faster, compared with AC charging technology, so vehicles can be charged during shorter periods of parking time.

As well as commissioning the installation, Siemens is providing a preventative maintenance programme and ongoing 24/7 service level support for the infrastructure. When electrifying depots there are a number of challenges to overcome: integrating with existing infrastructure; solving any grid or power demands; and aligning the route and vehicle characteristics to support the most optimum vehicle and infrastructure solution.

“Helping Tower Transit deliver its first depot for fully-electric routes, with these iconic double decker buses, is an important milestone for both the operator and London, as progress continues to be made with improving the air quality and lives of people in the capital,” said Matthias Rebellius, managing board member of Siemens and CEO of Smart Infrastructure.

He added: “The work at Westbourne Park reinforces Siemens’ growing reputation as one of the world’s leading providers of electrical infrastructure and transport solutions, which are paving the way towards the electrification of the transport sector.”

The Optare Metrodecker electric bus is designed and built at Optare’s facility in Sherburn near Leeds. London’s electric bus fleet of more than 380 electric buses is one of the largest in Europe.

Originally published by
SmartCitiesWorld News Team | November 30, 2020
Smart Cities World

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Gold Level Contributor

Even before lockdown, measures implemented by the mayor have helped to bring about a 94 per cent reduction in the number of Londoners living in areas exceeding legal limits for nitrogen dioxide.

Latest data reveals a major improvement in London’s air quality since 2016. New modelling of pollution in 2019 shows that measures implemented by the mayor have helped transform London’s air even before the coronavirus lockdown.

City Hall admits there is there is still a long way to go, though, with tens of thousands of Londoners still living in areas with illegally polluted air and 99 per cent of the UK capital still exceeds the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended limits.

Main air pollutants

There are two main air pollutants of concern in London, based on their impact on human health: nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5). Poor air quality stunts the growth of children’s lungs and worsens chronic illness, such as asthma, lung and heart disease.

The report – which includes new data from the Environmental Research Group now at Imperial College London – reveals that the number of state primary and secondary schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution limits (NO2) has fallen from 455 in 2016 to only 14 in 2019, a huge reduction of 97 per cent.

It also reveals a 94 per cent reduction in the number of Londoners living in areas exceeding legal limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

There is still much more work to do before London meets legal pollution limits and Londoners breathe clean air. Research shows that those exposed to the worst air pollution are more likely to be deprived Londoners and from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. There is also emerging evidence linking air pollution with an increased vulnerability to the most severe impacts of Covid-19.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of roads in inner London still exceed the legal limits for NO2. For dangerous particles (PM2.5), the challenge is greater still with only one per cent of London meeting WHO recommended limits. This underlines the need to expand the ultra low emission zone (Ulez) to the North and South Circular roads in 2021 as 3.8 million people live within the expanded Ulez zone.

The success of the existing central London Ulez and other action taken by the mayor gives confidence that expansion of the Ulez will help deliver wider benefits for London, including saving the NHS around £5bn and preventing more than one million hospital admissions over the next 30 years.

The fact that 99 per cent of London does not meet WHO recommended limits adds to the growing evidence and cross-party consensus that these limits should be included in the Environment Bill as a legally binding target to be met by 2030.

“I was elected on a mandate to deliver hard-hitting measures to tackle our toxic air crisis. Today’s report confirms the transformative impact that my policies have had in just four years. I’m pleased that Londoners are breathing cleaner air, that we’re saving the NHS billions of pounds and preventing over a million hospital admissions,” said mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

He continued: “However, air pollution remains a major public health challenge and it’s time for government to step up, set ambitious national targets and provide the powers and funding we need to consign air pollution to the history books. We can’t sleep walk from the health crisis of Covid back into complacency over the major impact of toxic air on everyone’s health.”

Dr Gary Fuller, senior lecturer in air pollution measurement at Imperial College London, said breathing bad air has had an intolerable impact on Londoners’ health for far too long. “In our operations centre we have been measuring London’s air pollution for nearly 30 years. During this time we’ve seen deteriorations followed by a long period when some places showed slow improvement, and others slowly worsened. It felt like we were at a standstill.

He added: “But, the changes in nitrogen dioxide in central London and along main bus routes before Covid were some of the fastest that we’ve ever measured. Starting around 2016, London’s air pollution underwent a dramatic change and this time it was change for the better. These successes show that our city’s air pollution is not an intractable problem and further action can bring even greater results.”

Originally published by
SmartCitiesWorld News Team | October 5, 2020
Smart Cities World

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Gold Level Contributor

Echoing Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson pledge to 'double down on levelling up' the UK economy, Citi Bank’s Tony McLaughlin believes the country can become an even more friendly environment for fintech and should be looking outside “a small perimeter around Old Street”.

Tony McLaughlin believes that the UK needs to double down on fintech to spearhead the post-Covid economic recovery, but needs to look outside London for the innovative companies that will be the catalyst of this.

“If you think about fintech as a way of working, companies have got access to global markets because their software is scalable across the world. Naturally fintech is a type of business where software is created collaboratively, where people work in new styles, where not everyone has to be in same office or location,” he tells Finextra Research.

“So, I take issue with the sector being too London focused. I think, if anything, efforts can be made to promote fintech in other locations which have got great software development capability within the UK.”

There may now be an increased desire to harness these capabilities. Large numbers of people have spent the last six months working from home, so the idea of journeying into London for four or five days a week may now seem like an unnecessary exercise.

This may dilute the importance of the capital city and see companies be more aggressive in harnessing the technology capabilities around the rest of the UK.

Beyond Brexit and Covid

Perhaps following the lead of jurisdictions like Switzerland and Singapore, policymakers in the UK should be looking at where its fintech sector has a natural advantage and how this can be augmented.

“In the AI space, for example, there’s some great expertise in the UK - DeepMind came from the UK, for example - so there are places where the country’s natural advantages could be leveraged in fintech,” McLaughlin says.

“Fintech is probably not material enough to necessarily lift the whole economy out of a recession, but it is certainly going to be a big contributor.”

While it is tempting to view the outlook for fintech primarily through a Brexit or a Covid lens, it will be important for companies to set their sights on the bigger picture of how businesses and consumers are likely to interact and transact in the years to come.

Imagining how the financial services will develop and how UK fintech should look to capitalise, McLaughlin refers to a McKinsey report of January 2018, which claimed that some $60 trillion worth of economic activity will be conducted in digital ecosystems by 2025, whether this be through B2B or direct-to-consumer platforms.

If McKinsey were asked to reevaluate this sum post-Covid, it is of course more likely that their lofty expectations would be inflated than deflated.

This will offer the opportunity to provide the financial services for such platforms, whether it be fintech companies, the banks themselves, or even big tech firms doing so.

Taking China as a model, financial services on platforms such as Alibaba and WeChat are provided by the companies themselves, which is also happening in the US with the GAFA firms.

Herding cats

However, the UK’s Open Banking ecosystem should create an environment where there will be room for manoeuvre and collaboration between the different players: banks acting like fintechs, fintechs acting like banks, banks acting like vendors and so on.

“Going forward, the opportunity for fintechs will not be providing an app that tells you how much coffee you’ve drunk, but embedding financial services into these mass-market consumer platforms,” McLaughlin says.

One such example of an area where UK fintech could respond to the needs of the financial markets is in digital identity, particularly how it pertains to the payments space.

According to David Birch of Consult Hyperion, payments equals identity plus accounting entries. While the latter is straightforward, it is identity that invariably proves the difficult bit.

The areas of the payments journey that are broken often come down to knowing beyond all doubt that the person performing a transaction is who they claim to be.

“I think another opportunity for the UK is maybe to focus on our foundational capability or infrastructure for the emerging digital economy, particularly in identity,” McLaughlin says.

“I’d like to see more fintechs take on those big foundational issues.”

Rather than simply offering white-label solutions (though there will remain a great deal of scope for these), fintechs should look to “herd the cats of the banking industry”, as McLaughlin puts it.

They should be looking to build industry-wide solutions in such areas as digital identity, as there is a great case for banks clubbing together to deliver interoperable digital identity, as already exists in Sweden.

“That’s one of the relatively unexplored avenues in the industry,” McLaughlin says.

Originally published by
Finextra | September 9, 2020

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Silver Level Contributor

Monzo Bank Ltd,  the London-based online bank, must now have a capital worth of 13.6 percent of its risk-weighted assets to guard against potential losses.

The Financial Times (FT) reported the new requirements are among the first signs the Bank of England (BoE), the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) central bank, will implement its promise to strengthen capital planning and governance at fast-growing, smaller lenders.

Before the rule change, Monzo was required to have capital worth at 9 percent of its risk-weighted assets as a shield against losses.

FT reported a check of recent regulatory filings revealed the number was increased by more than half. That’s more than more than twice as high as many mainstream banks in the U.K., the newspaper reported.

In May, a Monzo investor noted that the bank needs at least 20 million pounds ($26.3 million) to avoid violating the BoE’s revised regulatory capital requirements.

Regulatory experts told FT the central bank was implementing higher standards among fast-growing, so-called challenger banks, the name given startup digital banks, as a condition of easing restrictions that have limited competition.

Small- and mid-sized banks have objected to the costs, insisting that it makes it a challenge to grow in the U.K.

In July, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the BoE division that supervises large banks, warned that some new lenders had underestimated the cost required to become an established bank, and called for improved planning, stronger governance and clearer paths to profitability.

“They’re saying, ‘you wanted us to treat you like adults and we’re doing so’,” Monique Melis, global head of compliance and regulatory consulting at Duff & Phelps in New York, told the FT. “We will flex requirements a little bit to make it a survivable environment for mid to small banks. However, if we do this you’d better behave as grown-ups too and listen to everything we say both in terms of conduct and prudential regulation.”

A source close to the regulator told the FT that its recent changes were not targeted at any one bank. Monzo’s annual report, released last week, showed auditors raised some of the same concerns.

In its audit, Ernst & Young  wrote the pace of improvement is not keeping up with the pace of growth in the business and the accompanying risks.

Last month, Monzo CEO TS Anil said the bank,  damaged by the pandemic, is betting new products will help it to survive. He pointed to new services including business and premium accounts as ways Monzo would be able to weather the pandemic and come out solvent.

Originally posted

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Gold Level Contributor

The London mayor has set TfL the goal of achieving a zero-carbon railway by 2030 - Adobe

Sadiq Khan wants to change the way the Transport for London tube network is supplied with electricity and make the move towards a greater use of renewable energy.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has set out plans to change the way the Transport for London (TfL) Tube network is supplied with electricity and make the move towards a greater use of renewable energy.

The aim is that all electricity requirements for the London Underground are met via zero-carbon sources by 2030.

Environment strategy

All passenger rail services operated by TfL are electrically powered and, as part of the London Environment Strategy, the mayor has set TfL the goal of achieving a zero-carbon railway by 2030.

TfL is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the UK, with a requirement for 1.6TWh per annum, equivalent to the electricity consumed by more than 437,000 homes. It currently sources electricity directly from the National Grid via the Crown Commercial Service.

By developing plans to purchase power from renewable generators through power purchase agreements (PPAs), TfL would enable the rail network to be supplied by energy sources including wind and solar power, rather than a mix of power generators that emit carbon into the atmosphere.

The market testing will explore all elements of these contracts so TfL can secure a good deal for London and will also look at the potential for meeting the GLA group’s wider demand for renewable electricity – a total of 143 GWh which includes Greater London Authority (GLA), London Fire Commissioner (LFC), Transport for London (TfL), Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and Old Oak Common and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC).

“As one of the single biggest purchasers of energy in London, it is important that TfL leads the way on green energy. This is a vital step towards my ambitions for TfL – and London – to be zero-carbon by 2030,” said Khan.

He added: “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact but as we recover we want to make sure that we build a better, greener and more equal city. This work to secure cost-effective and renewable energy for the rail network, with ambitions to include the wider GLA group and beyond, will play a key role in London’s green recovery and accelerating action on the climate emergency.”

With the current financial challenges facing TfL, the mayor wants to ensure that the energy used to power its rail network is both cost effective in the long-term and taken from clean sources. The intention is to start with a TfL PPA with energy generators in a phased approach, with the ambition of considering purchasing up to 10 per cent of its demand by Spring 2022 subject to market testing and approval from TfL’s finance committee later this year.

Wider demand

The mayor will also look at opportunities to meet London’s wider public sector electricity demand with renewables, helping achieve zero carbon faster through collaboration with London’s local authorities’ offices, schools and leisure centres. In total these organisations along with the GLA group currently consume around 3TWh of electricity every year – equivalent to the electricity consumed by more than 820,000 homes which is 22 per cent of homes across London. 

“As one of the largest electricity consumers in the UK, we have a duty to explore fully the contribution that renewable energy can make to running our services,” said chief safety, health and environment officer at TfL, Lilli Matson. “This early market engagement will help us better understand generator preferences, their impact on price and their ability to decarbonise our future power requirements.”

The introduction of renewable PPAs is one of a number of initiatives underway at TfL to help reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. For example, waste heat from the London Underground network has been providing heating and hot water to more than 1,350 homes, a school and two leisure centres in Islington since earlier this year thanks to a pioneering energy centre at Bunhill, and TfL is talking to the wider market about potential future opportunities across its network.

Originally published by
SmartCities World News Team | July 20, 2020
SmartCities World

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Silver Level Contributor

LOTI supported London boroughs to use data more effectively during the pandemic

The all-party group highlights how the London Office of Technology and Innovation helped councils identify the digital tools and processes they can use to adapt to the new challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus has made local government’s ability to innovate and adopt digital technology "more important than ever", according to the cross-party group, London Councils, which represents the UK capitals 32 boroughs and the City of London.

Marking the first anniversary of the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI), the boroughs highlighted the need for faster adoption of digital and data to support the capital’s post-pandemic recovery.

Digital tools and processes

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, boroughs worked swiftly to support their residents, with LOTI helping councils identify the digital tools and processes they can use to adapt quickly to an array of new challenges.

For example, LOTI supported boroughs to use data to understand which of their residents may be most in need as a result of Covid-19. The LOTI team also identified barriers to and solutions for cross-organisational working, produced a guide to holding online council meetings, and compiled recommendations for improving the Government’s Devices for Children laptop provision scheme.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has put unprecedented strain on boroughs – but this has also made it clear that technology and innovation in public services are more important than ever,” said Philip Glanville, mayor of Hackney and London Councils’ Digital Champion.

“London local government made excellent use of digital tools to adapt speedily to the difficult new circumstances we found ourselves in, with LOTI helping to facilitate this work, breakdown silos, and co-ordinate learning between the boroughs.

“While there remain massive challenges ahead, boroughs and our small but incredible LOTI team are determined to continue improving our use of digital resources for the benefit of our residents. Since it was established last summer, LOTI has been integral to pushing forward this agenda. I have no doubt its role will become even more crucial in the months and years to come.”

LOTI was launched in 2019 as a collaboration between the London boroughs, with a mission of bringing the best of digital, data and innovation to benefit London residents, communities and businesses. Hosted by London Councils, LOTI is also supported by the mayor of London as part of his commitment to the digital transformation of public services across the capital.

LOTI dedicated much of its first year to addressing barriers to using data, improving technology procurement and building boroughs’ digital skills. This work will continue alongside a substantial programme to help boroughs use digital and data to support their communities recover from the pandemic.

“LOTI is making it easier for London and its 33 local authorities to harness the power of tech and data to improve Londoners’ lives,” said Theo Blackwell, London’s chief digital officer.

“By acting as an incubator for the adoption of new ideas and working closely with councils, City Hall and Transport for London, it has been able to tackle complex city-wide problems during the pandemic. I have no doubt that in the years to come LOTI will continue to drive city-wide change with solutions designed to meet Londoners’ needs.”

Originally published by
Smart Cities World News Team | July 16, 2020
Smart Cities World

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Gold Level Contributor

The project aims to understand how positively Londoners are responding to interventions

The Odysseus project’s overall goal is to help manage the Covid-19 crisis, inform the return to normality, and act as a springboard to London’s economy in the long term.

Researchers from the Alan Turing Institute in partnership with Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) have been mobilised to provide crucial insights to help London authorities during lockdown and support planning for the future after Covid-19 lockdown.

The remit of the project, codenamed ‘Odysseus’, falls under the themes which help to understand “London’s busyness”, and how positively the public are responding to interventions. London is regarded as a “particularly complex and varied environment”, in which to understand how the pandemic has affected people’s lives and how they are responding to it.

Manage the crisis

The project’s overall goal is to help manage the crisis, inform the return to normality, and act as a springboard to London’s economy in the long-term.

The institute was already working on a collaboration with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL) through the Data-centric Engineering programme, funded by LRF.

Now, working alongside a team of researchers from the universities of Warwick, Cambridge, and UCL, the team has repurposed their existing models, infrastructure, and machine learning algorithms from the air quality work, shifting focus and deploying similar techniques to understand how and when ‘busyness’ is changing across the UK capital in the wider context of Covid-19. Microsoft is a key partner, bringing Azure Cloud and AI services, and expertise, to the project.

Outputs from this research are already providing insights to the GLA’s Strategic Coordination Group (SCG) and Public Health England.

“The data, algorithms, and outputs from our research have the potential to act as an early warning system to trigger different interventions and more targeted policies.”

According to the partners, there has been a significant amount of anecdotal information about how busy parts of London have been during lockdown. The aim of this work is to provide a more consistent picture of behaviour to deliver:

  • a comparison to normal levels of activity
  • a comparison to levels of activity during lockdown (such as, the weeks immediately after 23 March)
  • a greater level of detail on changes in behaviour.

The project is founded on detailed data privacy and ethical protections, with much of the data already in the public domain and other data just looking at high level patterns and trends. Researchers are also using their expertise in detecting “change points” (revealing where and when changes are occurring) and integrating the evidence from a range of heterogeneous data sources to build an intricate and granular model of activity.

“The data, algorithms, and outputs from our research have the potential to act as an early warning system to trigger different interventions and more targeted policies. They can shed light into how the transmission of the virus is driven by human mobility, social interaction and social distancing across the city,” said Theo Damoulas, deputy programme director for the Turing’s Data-centric Engineering programme, and Turing’s lead on this project.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with our university partners, the GLA, TfL and others to provide valuable real-time insights to support planning for London’s managed emergence from the pandemic.”

The research uses open data to help explore information gathered from vehicle and transport movements, traffic cameras, economic activity and data from running apps.

“Bringing together open data gives us another tool to understand how the capital is responding to public health measures.”

The team is also collaborating with London First and the London Data Commission to understand how businesses themselves might use the busyness data to inform their recovery planning.

“City Hall has been doing important work with the Turing on air quality and this is now being repurposed to help deepen our understanding of Londoners’ movements during the lockdown,” added Theo Blackwell, London’s chief digital officer.

“Bringing together open data gives us another tool to understand how the capital is responding to public health measures, as well as how our high streets and shopping centres are doing, as we move from restrictions to recovery.”

Originally published by
SmartCitiesWorld news team | May 14, 2020
Smart Cities World

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Gold Level Contributor

London has made improvements to boost social distancing using temporary infrastructure

Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London said the UK capital needs to prepare for a possible 10-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London (TfL), have unveiled plans to repurpose and transform London’s streets to accommodate a possible 10-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased.

With London’s public transport capacity potentially running at a fifth of Covid-19 pre-crisis levels, millions of journeys a day will need to be made by other means. If people switch only a fraction of these journeys to cars, London risks grinding to a halt, air quality will worsen, and road danger will increase. The London Streetspace initiative aims to prevent this happening.

 Huge challenges 

Khan said the capacity of the capital’s public transport will be dramatically reduced post-coronavirus as a result of the huge challenges faced around social distancing.

“Everyone who can work from home must continue to do so for some time to come. The emergency measures included in our major strategic London Streetspace programme will help those who have to travel to work by fast-tracking the transformation of streets across our city.”

He continued: “Many Londoners have rediscovered the joys of walking and cycling during lockdown and, by quickly and cheaply widening pavements, creating temporary cycle lanes and closing roads to through traffic we will enable millions more people to change the way they get around our city.”

Working with London’s boroughs TfL will make changes, focusing on three key areas:

  • The rapid construction of a strategic cycling network, using temporary materials, including new routes aimed at reducing crowding on London Underground and train lines, and on busy bus corridors
  • A complete transformation of local town centres to enable local journeys to be safely walked and cycled where possible. Wider footways on high streets will facilitate a local economic recovery, with people having space to queue for shops as well as enough space for others to safely walk past while socially distancing
  • Reducing traffic on residential streets, creating low-traffic neighbourhoods right across London to enable more people to walk and cycle as part of their daily routine, as has happened during lockdown.

Euston Road is one of the first main thoroughfares to benefit from temporary cycle lanes. Park Lane could follow suit under plans being studied.

Read more here

Originally published

May 7, 2020
Smart Cities World

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Silver Level Contributor

Despite the travel industry taking a hit from the pandemic, London-based company Culture Trip is still holding its own.

With a global mindset, this startup has a triangle approach bringing together travel, media and entertainment. The website already has thousands of curated experiences and places to stay that can be booked on site and in-app, but it goes further than that – also delivering inspirational content that encourages curious travellers to go beyond their cultural boundaries and experience what is unique, special and meaningful about a location. 

It’s this ‘inspirational exploration’ aspect that makes Culture Trip (2011) unique. Focused on this, founder and CEO Dr Kris Naudts, who trained as a medical doctor and psychiatrist, has now grown the website to 80,000+ pieces of inspirational storytelling content and a team spread across  London, Tel Aviv, Shanghai and New York. 

We caught up with Kris to talk about why people need inspirational content now more than ever, the growth of ‘virtual’ or ‘cloud’ tourism, what ‘glocal’ (global and local) travel is, why Culture Trip has always had a strong work from home policy, and his tips for early-stage startups on creating impactful content with a low budget.

Thank you for joining us Kris! To set the scene, we have read that you trained as a medical doctor and psychiatrist before starting Culture Trip. Many entrepreneurs build up their first career before starting their side-hustle and finally launching their own business. How do you think this previous experience prepared you for starting Culture Trip (if at all?)

I have always considered myself an entrepreneur who happened to train as a doctor and a psychiatrist, rather than the other way around.

The discipline, rigour and comfort with the unknown, that were necessary to building my career in medicine and psychiatry have also been assets as a founder, where tenacity is key – and the unexpected is the norm. 

For me the question has always been around where I could have most impact – and this increasingly felt for me to be less about individual consultations and more about building something creative and important that would have reach far beyond what I could have as a physician working with individuals, or than would be possible in the near term via neuroscience research and papers.

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