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08.09.10 - The MIT Technology Review has listed Jochen Mundinger among the 35 most innovative entrepreneurs. The EPFL scientist is the founder of Routerank, a travel planning service. Here’s our interview.

Could you explain the concept of Routerank in a few words?
Jochen Mundinger: Basically, it’s a software for planning your travel itinerary. A version is available for everyone at www.routerank.com. It’s most interesting feature is that it takes into account all the forms of transport – road, rail and air. It enables you to plan a complete journey, practically door-to-door. Imagine that I’d like to go from Ecublens to Cambridge in the UK: there are hundreds of combinations of ways to get there. I can take the metro to Lausanne and then the train to Geneva, where I can fly to London Luton and finish my journey by taxi. Or I could drive to Basel, then fly to London Stansted, where I could take a train to Cambridge. Routerank allows you to categorize all your itineraries according to different criteria, such as travel time, cost, and even CO2 emissions.

Could this recognition from the USA herald a phase of international expansion for the company?
To be frank, I rather underestimated its importance to begin with. Then I began to receive lots of congratulatory messages from around the world. The award has really helped us to bridge the Atlantic! We’ve received numerous European awards, but the recognition from Technology Review shows how relevant our work is at international level, and we’re very proud of that.

The whole of Europe is now covered by Routerank. What about the rest of the world?
Flights are already covered at international level, and European and North American roads have been integrated. Rail networks and public transport are included for Europe, and increasingly for the U.S. and Canada.

That must mean compiling hundreds of data sources!
We have an enormous variety of sources. We use the data of Via Michelin, companies like the Swiss and German Federal Railways, and more than 700 airlines. These data sources are all very different, as are the underlying technologies. That’s a real challenge, not to mention the necessity of developing a complex algorithm.

How is Routerank financed?
We develop and sell customized solutions to companies like the WWF, Nokia, and the Swiss Confederation. For example, we’ve adapted the data sources in line with special rates offered to the Swiss Confederation and some airline companies, and also implemented selection criteria that take account of time available for work during the journey. Our public platform, www.routerank.com, contributes revenue from advertising, while also increasing awareness of the product.

Author:Lionel PousazSource:Mediacom
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