Who is Philippe Lovens?
- Co-founder and CEO of urbike.
- 41 years old, lives and works in Brussels.
- Passionate about the ecological and societal transition in cities, about mobility, and the co-creation of targeted solutions.
The Brussels cooperative urbike wants to accelerate the change in urban logistics, promoting the modal switch from vans and light trucks to bicycles. The keyword of the company’s CEO Philippe Lovens? Serendipity.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. You need to make mistakes because they often lead to improvements.
A job at the heart of innovation
urbike relies on BicyLift for its innovative model. This solution, which was developed by FlexiModal, was inspired by seagoing containers, connecting the world of bicycle couriers with that of international logistics.
For most road hauliers, the last mile, in the city, is proportionately more expensive, both on the economic and ecological level. Thanks to its innovative bicycle distribution model, urbike is able to offer an alternative to vans and light trucks. The couriers have trailers that can carry a pallet or a container and can deliver up to 1.5 m3 or 200 kg of goods in the city.
urbike, which is a cooperative, has also made social innovation its mission. Relying on a system of participatory governance, the company hopes to prove that you can reconcile decent working conditions with the platform economy.
Project in the spotlight
The BCklet project is overseen by the urbike team, in collaboration with a consortium of experts: Smart, Febecoop, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (MOBI) and Université Saint-Louis. Its goal is to prove that bicycle deliveries are a valid solution for last mile transportation in cities, regardless of the nature of the goods that are transported.
Since mid-2019, BCklet is testing its bicycle distribution model in the field, with four customers/partners: bpost (parcel service), Delhaize (supermarket), Multipharma (network of pharcies) and CSD (a provider of home-based healthcare services). The feedback from the pilot projects – with the bpost distribution centre in Schaarbeek and Delhaize’s Fresh Atelier Ravenstein – are very promising. Containerisation has required companies to take a new look at their logistics. It is moving away from green marketing, offering them a specific and efficient solution for their urban deliveries.
Brussels, City of Innovators
Brussels is an interesting testing ground for innovation. The city is sufficiently large, but still has a human scale. You can easily meet with the authorities and institutions. As a start-up, you are also given plenty of efficient support. Moreover, the capital of Europe is the perfect place to experiment with solutions, which eurocrats can then share in their respective countries. Finally, the congestions in Brussels and its logistical needs are an important incentive for urbike.
What he likes about his job
Philippe Lovens likes to work in the context of a start-up, with a dynamic team, engaging with people in very different worlds: commerce, politics, civil society, institutions… He also likes to devise and find solutions, that have a specific impact.
I need my work to be meaningful. I want to contribute to the resurrection of cities, on a more human scale, that is more respectful of nature and health. In a positive way: my main objective is not to teach people, but to lead them to solutions.
Philippe Lovens holds a degree in management engineering and an executive Master in Finance. In 2003, he went to work as a business analyst for ING Group. In 2006, he joined the Belvas chocolate company, an organic and fair trade company, as export manager and business developer. In 2014, Philippe co-founded CityDepot, a company that specialised in smart urban distribution, that was acquired by bpost in 2015. In 2018, he co-founded the cooperative company urbike, with Delphine Lefebvre and Renaud Sarrazin.
3 tips to Brussels innovators
2) Surround yourself with and advance the careers of the people who really want it.
3) Don’t be afraid to share your ideas: on the contrary even, discuss them with many people with different profiles.
2) 750 kg of goods transported every day.
3) Target for 2020: save up to 550 tons of CO2.