Virta bringing smart and easy EV charging to the Western Balkans

Sustainable transport is slowly but surely gaining ground also in the Western Balkan region. Belgrade-based company MTKOMEX is building electric vehicle charging network in the region. Thanks to the partnership with Virta, MTKOMEX can offer companies the opportunity to enter the growing EV charging market in an easy, smartand reliable way. Together with Virta, they are helping companies such as Gazprom Neft, BMW and Heineken to futureproof their business.

The world is moving full force towards electrification. In Europe, Norway, Iceland and Sweden are leading the charge. In 2020, plug-in electric vehicles accounted for 74.8%, 45% and 32.2% of the car registrations, respectively At the same time in Serbia, only about 300 fully electric cars are cruising throughout thecountry, together with 2000 hybrid vehicles. 

But the future of mobility is electric also in the Western Balkan region. The Serbian government has announced that the purchases of electric and hybrid vehicles will be subsidized with one million euros in 2021, the same as in 2020.  

Sustainable transport is slowly but surely becoming mainstream in our country, too. E-mobility and EV charging business is expanding in Serbia and we are proud to be at the center of it”, says Miloš Kostić, the CEO of Belgrade-based company MTKomex. 


MTKOMEX is the undisputable forerunner in bringing e-mobility to the Western Balkan region. The company has almost three decades of experience in the construction of solar power plants. In the past ten years, they have gradually expandedtheir core business to include electric vehicle charging and have actively participated in building the charging network for electric vehicles in the Western Balkans.

Early on, the company realized that it is not enough to just install the chargers. The EV drivers need an easy way to find the charging locations & charge their cars. In order to put this idea into practice, MTKOMEX started looking for a partner. 


Virta’s commitment to merge renewable energy and mobility as well as the extensive experience of running 1000 professional charging networks made Virta an interesting option for MTKOMEX. Virta is also an expert in EV energy demand response solutionsthat will become increasingly important when EV markets expand and energy systems transition to renewables. 

“Virta – as a global innovation leader and one of the world’s leading vehicle-to-grid technology providers – stood out. We were also impressed by the extensive support and service solution package that Virta offered”, says Kostić. 

Kostić and his team contacted the Finnish Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia and the embassy helped MTKOMEX to get in touch with the Virta team. And the rest is history. 

Soon the process of acquiring know-how started. Together we found the best approach to integrate Virta’s Charging Solution into MTKOMEX’s business model. We are glad to say that the cooperation has been great, and our team has gotten valuable training”, states Kostić. 


In cooperation with Virta, MTKOMEX launched in 2020 the charge&GO platform, and a mobile application. The web platform gathers all the information about the charging network, charging methods, electric cars and MTKOMEX service offering. Kostić is even more proud of the branded charge&GO mobile app which makes it easy for EV drivers to find available charging stations, start and end charging sessions as well as make in advance payment and reservation of the chosen charger

With a help of Virta, MTKOMEX is able to offer the only integrated EV charging solution in the Western Balkans region.  

“The results of our cooperation with Virta are already fantastic: We have entered the market with our own brand and gotten clients and customers in a short time span. This is a tremendous outcome concerning the fact that EVs are still scarce in Serbia. As the number of EVs in Serbia is growing, we are getting more and more inquiries and new clients”, says Kostić. 

Read the full case story on Virta’s web page: Case MT-KOMEX – Bringing smart and easy EV charging to the Western Balkans

Telia’s smart solutions boost sustainable transport

Public transport can transform cities – but only if we, the citizens, give it a chance. Public transport needs to be more than an economical option; it needs to be the most efficient and enjoyable ride. That’s why Telia started from the commuter experience and worked outwards to build an end-to-end connected public transport experience. We are redefining what public transport means for commuters, transport operators and cities.

Telia Connected Vehicle also helps transport and logistics companies to optimise their business by consolidating their onboard systems, reducing fuel consumption, and handling vehicle and fleet management more efficiently.

Let us inspire you with some customer cases.


Telia Connected Vehicle

Telia launches a new service that makes vehicle and fleet management more efficient, helps promote more environmentally friendly driving, and enables fuel consumption to be reduced by up to 12 percent.

Telia Connected Vehicle is built on the Fältcom platform that was originally developed and proven in the public transport industry. As well as providing “out of the box” features, it is also an open platform that enables transport and logistics operators to consolidate their own and third party applications.

”Several logistics and service companies, such as Neste, have been involved in the development of the new service,” says Kalle Mehtola, head of IoT sales at Telia Finland. “We aim to create completely new types of services for the industry, simultanerously enhancing operations and saving both operational costs and the environment”.

Read more on Telia’s website.


Data Insights help Helsinki Regional Transport Authority measure impact

The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority spent € 1.2 billion on a subway extension from Helsinki to the suburban city of Espoo in order to improve the commute for thousands of travelers while reducing CO2 emissions. To optimize connecting bus routes and also measure the sustainability efforts of the subway extension, they used Telia Crowd Insights.

Telia Crowd Insights are based on anonymized mobile network data providing information regarding where crowds are coming from and going to at a particular time. In this way, HSL was able to get clear and lucid views of exactly how the travelers used the existing bus services. This gave HSL a reliable basis for decision-making in order to re-plan the connections. And immediately after the new services began to operate, HSL was able to see how the travelers´ moving patterns changed.

“Benefiting from the new data source and continuous data requires changing the way we operate,” says Tapio Levä, Senior Business Development manager for data insights in Finland. “In the past, many organizations have based their operations on statistics that were updated once a year, for example, but now they have constantly updated data available on, in this case, the flow of people.”

Read more on Telia’s website.


Fuel savings and better driving habits for is a leading long-distance bus service in Finland. The company that started its business with one bus between the cities of Tampere and Pori has rapidly grown into one of the best known brands in Finland, revolutionising the entire public transport business and making buses once again a considerable means of travel. With Telia’s Connected vehicle solution, the company is primarily seeking fuel savings.

“ was among the first ones in Finland to start using Telia’s Connected Vehicle offering, that has been designed to optimise the operations of heavy equipment using real-time operating data. The service will be installed in all 68 double-decker buses and possibly also in the 60 single-deckers,” says Telia logistics solution specialist Satu Orava.

“Connected vehicle provides many benefits compared to the present state. With the service, we can combine many services that were previously sourced from several vendors. The number of mobile subscriptions has decreased from seven to two, and we can access the vehicle’s CAN bus errors, allowing us to fix things,” says Lauri Helke, CEO at

Read more on Telia’s website and watch Telia’s video on the subject.


Telia connects 2,000 buses to smart heating

Telia Company has, together with public transport company Nobina, developed an IoT-service for smart heating of buses. 2,000 buses in Sweden have been equipped with the solution which will lower power consumption equivalent to the yearly output from two wind turbines. Nobina is the Nordic region’s largest public transport service provider.

The usual way of heating buses is to heat them at the garage before they are dispatched. The new IoT-service makes the heating more efficient. 2,000 buses have been equipped with connected temperature sensors and control systems that ensure that the proper amount of energy is supplied at the right time to keep an ultimate temperature profile. The connected temperature sensors are screened in real-time and the temperature profile is updated depending how the buses are utilized.

The IoT-service lowers Nobina’s power consumption with 22GWh yearly which is equivalent to the output from mid-sized two wind turbines.

Read more on Telia’s website and watch Telia’s video on the subject.


Improving traffic flow in New York

New York is where the term gridlock was invented: traffic jams that block all directions grinding the city to a halt. And with ever more vehicles competing for road space with cyclists and buses, it’s a problem that effects all New Yorkers. The New York City Department of Transportation is approaching the problem in two ways:

  1. Firstly, traffic management: using data to identify stoppages in the traffic system so they can fix them before they compound into larger problems.
  2. The second way is to make bus services a better experience so more New Yorkers will choose the bus instead of the car. Part of this is to make bus services more predictable by providing accurate real-time bus arrival times displayed at bus stops and pedestrian information signs.

They needed a robust, plug-and-play edge gateway that could be fully managed remotely, without needing to send technicians out to physically reconfigure. They also needed one with high enough security to work in the city’s closed communications network. By connecting traffic lights and bus stops, Telia is delivering real-time data to help the NYC DOT keep traffic flowing and make public transport a better experience.

By providing real time bus arrival times to passengers, the NYC DOT aims to deliver a better service. When people know exactly when the bus will arrive – in minutes away rather than stops away – it is more predictable and a better experience.

Buses send position data to the traffic control center which calculates how many minutes away the bus is. This data is then sent on to Telia IoT Edge Gateways installed at bus stops and pedestrian information signs to feed real-time data for digital displays. The information is also provided via text-to-speech for the visually impaired.

Read more on Telia’s website and watch Telia’s video on the subject.

Picture: Telia Company

Whim, Mobility as a Service –
Every kind of transport together in a single intuitive mobile app

Finnish MaaS Global is the world’s first true MaaS, Mobility as a Service -operator. With their award-winning Whim app they’re set to make the change in transport by combining different transport options from different providers.

Increasing amount of people own a car, yet many of these owners use their vehicles very scarcely. Cars easily cause a lot of expenses and fossil-fueled driving is behind a lot of emissions which doesn’t support sustainable lifestyle. Individual cars also tend to cause traffic jams and blocks at cities. In addition to these problems, drivers also face difficulties with planning their routes in changing cityscapes and finding places to park their cars. However, owning a car is a necessity for many.

Solution: Easier and more eco-friendly transportation

The founder of Maas Global, Sampo Hietanen, had thought and planned about starting MaaS (Mobility as a Service) for a long time before taking the first steps for creating it. In order to make his idea more concrete, it needed new digital technologies, crumbling infrastructure, close cooperation between the authorities and the private sector. In hindsight it is fascinating how a whole country was turned into an incubator to make MaaS happen.

It took MaaS Global, the company that grew in this fertile ground, twelve years to develop into what it is today.

Today MaaS is an international concept of traffic as a service, where the user gets all their needs for mobility organized with only one UI. MaaS is a hassle-free and environmentally sound alternative to private car ownership, helping people to go places easier and more efficiently than ever before.

The core idea of Mobility as a Service (sometimes also referred to as Combined Mobility or Transportation as a Service) is to see mobility through the needs of the customers and through the service layer. Instead of buying cars, folks would buy the services they needed. A taxicab could itself be mobility as a service, but if everyone steps into a cab nobody will get anywhere. Different modes of transportation must be combined to optimize the traffic flow, and for this to work the switch from one mode to another must be pleasant in the physical realm and totally seamless in the virtual realm. All transportation must be behind one service, for example an app. This would include all transport options, from public transport to taxi rides, from car rental to bike rides. Instead of buying single tickets, people would be buying mobility for example, for a month.

Implementation: Close collaboration with various operators

Sampo Hietanen may have been the first to publicly talk about packaging mobility at transportation conference in 2006, but he was not alone in seeing transportation through the service layer. The authorities were also on the move. As digital and as sexy as the words smart and intelligent sound when attached to old things like traffic, energy or cities, those words also express very practical means to make more of what we’ve got.

In order to make MaaS work, legislation and regulation, customer interfaces, technology, application interfaces, billing and the will to get it all done had to align. This tremendous challenge was acknowledged early on. In an age when so much revolutionary and disruptive thinking is thought to bloom despite of governments or corporations, the story of MaaS relies on these actors – with some entrepreneurial spirit thrown in to spice up the magic stew.

In 2009 the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communication published the first intelligent transportation strategy in the world. It defined intelligent transportation as “usage of information and communications technologies to optimize the transportation system”. It also recognized that this would mean a major shift in focus from maintaining and developing traffic routes to customer based operating of the whole traffic system.

In January 2010 Finland, as the first country in the world, reformed its transport agencies. Later that year the Finnish Ministry of Transport presented a report that started shifting the official policy from infrastructure to a more holistic approach. Close collaboration with different partners and the changes made by the Finnish officials made MaaS-operations possible in Finland.

The concrete process was finally started during 2014, when Hietanen presented his idea of MaaS in Finnish science center Heureka. The conference was called “A Starting Event for the World’s First MaaS Operator”, which held for more than 250 curious attendees. Out of these people, 24 different organization members believed in Hietanen that they agreed to fund business plan. In 2017 all of this resulted in the launch of Whim-application, the first all-inclusive MaaS solution commercially available on the market.

Results: More than 6 million journeys

Whim application has won many national and international awards, among them the prestigious Red Dot Award, the iF DESIGN AWARD, and the Future Unicorn Award. International expansion started when Whim was launched in Birmingham, UK in Spring 2017 and in Antwerp, Belgium later 2017. New investment rounds followed.

In August 2017 MaaS Global announced it had raised 14.5 million euros, while the target had been 10 million euros, and brought in new investors such as Toyota Financial Services and DENSO from Japan. In October 2019 MaaS Global completed another investment round with 29.5 million Euros raised. MaaS Global attracted also new investors, such as Mitsubishi and BP.

At their headquarters in downtown Helsinki MaaS Global has high on the wall for everyone to see, a black display on which bright LED numbers count trips taken with the Whim app. Right now the amount of journeys made with the help of Whim is more than 6 000 000. MaaS isn’t just alive – it is scaling.

Contact information:
Veera Aalto
Communications Lead

SmartRail ecosystem accelerating sustainable mobility and growth

The diverse SmartRail ecosystem is accelerating sustainable mobility and the development of user-centric mobility services whilst creating new business opportunities.

Transport is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and is influenced by many megatrends such as climate change, urbanization, servicitation, networking and moving towards autonomous operations. The revolution in the transport sector provides excellent opportunities for diverse Finnish know-how and new operating models to create new innovative solutions and new business to meet market needs. The SmartRail ecosystem, which combines the diverse expertise of companies, public authorities and research organizations, will accelerate the implementation of sustainable, smart and user-centric urban transport while increasing the competitiveness of its members.

Data and services will be at the core

Urban environments aim for a sustainable and user-centered transport system that can serve its residents safely and smoothly. Digitalisation, advanced technologies, human-centric design and new operating models are key tools in responding to the challenges of climate change and transport demand increase. Emission-free intelligent solutions based on public transport and new mobility services will be pivotal to this. The transport system will become electrified, service-oriented autonomous. Transport is becoming the most important sector in developing the data economy, since transport is currently within a process of increasingly interconnecting with information and energy networks.

Electrified public transport with its user-centric services is the direction of future urban transport – and the SmartRail ecosystem is one of the driving forces in accelerating this transformation. The ecosystem aims to become the most attractive provider of tram-integrated functionalities and services within the market sector. The technological focus is to deliver the best tram in the world in terms or passenger and life cycle services, and to provide solutions that increase the safety and flexibility of trams and trains in the transition towards autonomous operations.

A diverse network of experts and co-development will increase the competitiveness of a growing ecosystem

The annual turnover of the SmartRail ecosystem with its associated mobility services is estimated to be several billion euros in 2030. The competitive edge of the SmartRail ecosystem is centered around the diverse expertise of companies, public authorities and research organizations, that is harnessed to serve a common goal. A systematically guided co-innovation process and the deployment of a world-class development environment for rail-related mobility services are key tools in achieving this goal. These will accelerate the development of the companies’ service and product development and hence the market uptake of solutions that add value and benefits for the end-users and cities.

SmartRail is a growing ecosystem that is being developed in stages and can be joined by new actors along the way, bringing their own contribution to the ecosystem. SmartRail’s first innovation phase with its RDI projects was launched in early 2019 with the support of Business Finland. The first stage main themes are tram and subsystem automation solutions, information systems and virtual technologies – and also, ramping up the business oriented innovation ecosystem. The second innovation phase was launched in February 2020 with the main themes of proactive situational awareness, user-driven solutions and impact assessment. Impacts will be evaluated from the perspective of enterprise-driven international business as well as from the perspectives of the environmental and socio-economic benefits for mobility within the urban transport system. The third innovation phase focusing on tram-related mobility services and other services is to be launched later in 2020.

In addition to the ecosystem anchor company Skoda-Transtech and the research coordinator VTT, the organisations implementing the SmartRail innovation phases include Mevea, Mipro, 3D House, Creanex, DA-Design, Lumikko, Tamware, EC Engineering, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere Tramway, City of Tampere, Business Tampere, Helsinki City Transport and Traficom. The SmartRail ecosystem is supported by Business Finland and currently includes also Ambientia, Proxion, Teknoware, Cinia, Vinka and Isoft as members of the ecosystem. For more information visit the SmartRail ecosystem website .


Picture: Tampere Tramway Ltd.

The act on Transport Services – Mobility is a service

The Finnish Act on Transport Services has been described as globally groundbreaking and unique in the field of transport sector legislation. What led to the creation of this law?

Earlier, the transport market in Finland was strictly regulated and guided by public measures. At the same time, however, the digitalisation of transport was emerging, and the digital knowledge, communication and automation were becoming an essential part of all kinds of transportation. Finland wanted to be the forerunner in this section, which led to the development of the Act on Transport Services. One of the reasons behind creating the Act was also to promote fairness of competition in the passenger transport market and competitiveness of the service providers of both passengers and goods transport.

Solution: A unique transport sector legislation

The new Act on Transport Services, created in 2017, aims at proactively supporting new transport services and innovation through significant regulatory change. The Act granted access to data on timetables and pricing of different transport providers and deregulated taxi transport, also allowing third parties to sell transport tickets by opening ticket interfaces.

The Act was prepared in an open manner, in cooperation with different kinds of stakeholder groups and business representatives. As digitalisation was proceeding and intelligent transport systems were being developed further, the consensus was that the Act should enable future transport solutions and improved services to citizens and users.

The Act was expected to promote novel service concepts and innovation in businesses by encouraging old and new actors to rethink. The new legislation also paved the way for new mobility services and applications by removing barriers. These kinds of new services and apps are thought to encourage people to choose for example carpooling, taxi or public transport instead of a car.

Implementation: The Act was carried out in three stages

The Act on Transport Services was carried out in three stages due to its wide-ranging content.

In the first stage, provisions on road transport were brought together under the Act on Transport Services. A significant part of the regulations concerning the transport of people and goods was combined and renewed. The Act eased the regulations in the taxi industry especially.

A central aim of the Act on Transport Services is to promote digitalisation of transport services and more efficient use of data. The data regulation, which aims at creating prerequisites for open data and a better use of data resources, was a central element in the first stage. The Act sets out new obligations for transport service providers regarding the interoperability of information and ticketing systems, as well as the openness of interfaces.

Provisions on air, maritime and rail transport markets and on the qualifications of transport personnel were added in the second stage. The second stage of the Act also continued the opening of data regarding the use of mobility services.

Providing travel chains and combined services was made easier by enabling service provides to act on behalf of another person. This means that a provider of a combined mobility service can incorporate tickets for all modes of transport, car renting services, different kinds of seasonal and serial products and discounts by acting on the customer’s wishes and on their behalf.

Viewed from the international perspective, in Finland the authorities’ registers are very precise and exhaustive, and better utilisation of them could be a significant competitive factor. Reform of the regulation on transport registers strengthens the possibilities of those in the register to use their own data themselves and to benefit from better mobility services. The reform means considerable deregulation, as about ten current registers relating to transport and the separate laws concerning them were consolidated to form one integrated register of transport affairs that contain data on operator permits, transport vehicles and personal licenses such as professional qualifications.

The third stage of the project finalised the Act. Provisions were laid down on professional qualifications, preparedness, opening up of postal information for development purposes, and positioning in heavy road transport and railway and rail transport.

The Act entered into force, for the most part, on 1 July 2018.

Results: In legislation, mobility is now seen as a whole

The Act on Transport Services is an extremely extensive regulation reformation that brought together and streamlined regulation, enabled deregulation of transport markets and created globally groundbreaking regulation. In legislation, mobility is now seen the same way as in peoples´ everyday lives: not as single bus lines or railways but as a whole.

The user orientation and data regulation involved in the Act aligned Finland with the global forerunners in promoting a large-scale change in the transport market. By enabling new kinds of mobility services, we are striving for better fluency and safety of transports as well as significant emission reductions. New mobility services are also expected to reduce the use of private cars and enable the huge potential growth of service market.

Along with the data regulation in the Act on Transport Services, mobility service providers have opened a wealth of interfaces for essential data, and the opening of sales interfaces has also started. According to feedback from operators, new services and systems have actively been developed.

The number of companies and drivers in the taxi field has increased considerably, and the services and pricing models seem to have diversified.

The key aim of the Act on Transport Services was to support long-term processes of change. Therefore, final conclusions about its effects should only be drawn later.

Finland recognised for implementing forward-looking policy

Act on Transport Services has gained international recognition. Finland was awarded an important recognition for its merits in implementing a forward-looking communications policy and legislation. The GSMA Government Leadership Award was presented to Finland in Barcelona on 26 February 2019.

In the award justifications, Finland was praised for its forward-looking communications policy as part of the transformation of transport. The new Act on Transport Services in which data is seen as an integral part of the transport system, as the fifth mode of transport, was mentioned as one of Finland’s central achievements.

Gacha robotbus – The first autonomous shuttle bus in the world for all weather conditions

Sensible 4 combined their expertise with Japanese MUJI to create an elegant robotbus, first in the world to function in all weather conditions. For this shuttle Sensible 4 provides the autonomous driving technology which ensures the vehicle with superior positioning, navigation and obstacle detection performance. MUJI provides the vehicle its famous design and user experience.

Weather plays a critical role in opening the market for autonomous buses or robotaxis. Currently heavy rain, fog or snow are preventing autonomous vehicles from driving as the existing technologies are mostly being tested and developed in warm climate conditions. Meanwhile, Sensible 4 has focused in technology test and validation under the arctic Finnish Lapland conditions giving the company a unique advantage over the other self-driving technologies.

Elegant robotbus that drives through rain, fog and sleet

The advanced technology of autonomous driving has a lot of potential in urban environments but also in the countryside where decreasing birth rates and aging populations are causing problems in these communities. The GACHA autonomous shuttle bus can be shared among the community which paralleled MUJI’s philosophy. Thus, the collaboration with Sensible 4 started in 2017 through introduction made by Helsinki Business Hub and GACHA was launched in Helsinki in March 2019.

“The GACHA development got started when Sensible 4 team, working back then with the first generation of robot buses, noticed that they just don’t perform at all even in light rain, not to mention the typical winter conditions in Finland. Completely autonomous self-driving technology is not here yet. Most self-driving cars can operate only in ideal weather conditions and well-marked roads. This is what Sensible 4 has managed to change through repeated tests in the harsh winter conditions of the Finnish Lapland”, says Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4.

Sensible 4 is an Espoo-based startup that delivers systems to autonomous vehicles and aims on collaborating with the leading automotive OEMs and their suppliers. Their software can be integrated into any autonomous vehicle platform from small cars to full -size buses. The company provided the technology for GACHA, including superior positioning, navigation and obstacle detection to allow year-round autonomous driving regardless of the weather. MUJI, a Japanese lifestyle retail company, provided the vehicle’s design, developing the functional aesthetic and optimum user experience.

Aside from its all-weather capabilities, MUJI’s design differentiates GACHA from similar projects, in particular the vehicle’s lack of a front or rear. The interior seating follows the soft rounded square shape of the bus, creating more space for passengers while the LED light belt serves as both headlights and an external communication screen. Inspiration for the design came from a toy capsule, a universal shape that embodies joy and excitement, bringing peace and happiness to those who encounter it.

Integrating robotbuses into the daily transportation service chain

Finland is leading the way in developing autonomous system and the government is committed for further enabling future intelligent mobility. One major advantage is the favorable Finnish legislation for new experiments – the Finnish legislation not only allows automated vehicles to be used in public roads but also encourages the digitalization of all transport services. The recent heavy deregulation makes it easier for new types of transportation services to enter the market. Also, the cities of the Finnish capital region are committed and open in enabling new mobility services and solutions, like GACHA, being developed in the area.

“We are developing these vehicles so that they can become part of daily transportation service chain. Autonomous vehicles can’t become mainstream until their technology has been insured to work in all climates”, says Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4.

After the preview in March, GACHA began pilot operating for the general public in Espoo in April 2019, later rolling out to Hämeenlinna, Vantaa and Helsinki. MUJI and Sensible 4 are currently planning to produce the first GACHA fleet for use on public roads in 2020 for various cities in Finland and abroad. MUJI and Sensible 4 aim for the self-driving shuttle fleets to operate as a part of the cities’ existing transportation systems in 2021, with a long-term objective of establishing partnerships with other pioneering cities around the world.

Contact information: