International Road Federation (IRF )

IRF Start-up Label

Our endorsement is a fundamental building block of trust for Mobility start-ups who have the potential and the ambition to make a difference.  ​

Our experts assess each start-up’s application, determine whether the company can create a significant impact in terms of innovation, safety, efficiency, and sustainability and evaluate the viability of their business model. ​

The IRF Start-up Label is a seal of quality recognising impactful companies. 

About the Label

Every founder knows that establishing a new company requires building confidence with clients, investors, current and future employees.  ​Our goal is to support impactful mobility start-ups by helping them build trust with their stakeholders. Our seal of quality recognises trustworthy organisations: 1) led by credible teams that have developed an innovative and impactful product, service or value proposition; 2) that can prove technically achievable goals and capacity to protect their innovation and to execute a sustainable business strategy.  

By receiving the IRF Start-up Label and IRF’s official endorsement, start-ups are enabled to demonstrate credibility and earn sustainable trust with their stakeholders.  ​Awarded Start-ups also benefit from IRF’s most valuable assets:  ​

Unique knowledge and expertise

Broad networking capabilities

Extensive data services

To obtain the label, each start-up goes through a thorough assessment process. Each application is examined by a pool of IRF experts in charge of delivering a global evaluation of the company. Experts analyse the following criteria: impact on IRF’s key fields of action​; environmental and social impacts; level of innovation and the company’s capacity to protect it ​; market traction i.e. the degree to which the product or the service satisfies an existing need, its viability and its scalability; and founders’ profiles.

Who can apply?​

Any start-up operating in at least one of the following areas (click on the title for more details): ​

Road financing and economics  

An ever-recurrent problem in the road sector is to have funding at a sufficient level to keep road assets in a stable condition and to find ways to finance necessary extensions of the road network. Structural underfunding has led to infrastructure deficits. Finding other mechanisms to fund roads than by public budget, based on the paradigm shift from viewing road fully as public goods towards a more economic approach enabling the application of the user-pay principle, might offer opportunities, as could increasing involvement of the private sector. IRF is committed to advocating sustainable funding for roads to serve nations’ economies as the infrastructure backbone and to preserve value for road users and tax-payers. ​

Road Safety

UN data estimates that nearly 1.3 million will die this year due to road traffic collisions, 3,000 deaths each day. More than 20 and 50 million more people will sustain non-fatal injuries from a collision. WHO also described  Road-related death and injury as a  “major public health and development crisis”. But progress towards safer roads as the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2011–2020 the “Decade of Action for Road Safety”, the goal of “stabilizing and reducing the forecasted level of global road fatalities”. As a key voice, IRF will provide support on the international, regional, and national levels to support the Decade of Action. ​

IRF’s contributions under the Decade of Action include the following:​

  • IRF Road Safety Group Experts:  a policy development/working group advocating for safe road development, raising awareness for maintenance and operation, policy  guidance, exchange of knowledge and best practices. ​
  • Networking & Information Sharing: annual set of conferences, workshops, meetings, IRF members share best practices, exchange ideas, and meet policy-makers to promote evidence-based solutions to road safety problems.​
  • Technical assistance: through its membership, IRF provides technical assistance and guidance to policy-makers, practitioners, and the broader road infrastructure sector to address road fatalities, and injuries.​
  • Advocacy: The IRF utilizes its key platform to advocate for the implementation of evidence-based policies designed to reduce road-related death and injury. ​
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)  

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) contribute to all major transport policy objectives. ​

  • Safe roads and safe driving: ITS play an important role in preventing accidents mitigating their impacts. ITS also helps to implement ambitious policy objectives set by national governments and supra-national bodies. ​
  • Delivering road sustainability: Many ITS applications work to either optimize the available supply of road infrastructure or reducing demand for it. The result of ITS technology is an efficient and reliable road transport network with a minimized effect on the environment. ​
  • Data collection: ITS can capture a range of roadway information. I.e. number of vehicles passing and their average speeds to weather conditions.  ITS technology can even follow the positioning of vehicles through mobile tracking or satellite systems. ​
  • Data transfer, processing and analysis: ITS can communicate the data to central units where it’s transformed into information used to determine future actions. ​
  • Informed decision-making: Processed data can then be applied in numerous ways to ensure the efficient operation of road networks. I.E, road operator can use ITS data for highway management, road user can use data to update their traffic route.  ​
  • IRF believes that road managers have a cost-efficient tool to save lives, reducing emissions, increase the reliability of road travel. ​
  • IRF strongly supports the implementation of ITS in order to make better roads for a better world. ​
Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility (CCAM) 

The introduction of technologies related to connectivity, automation, electrification, and digitalization has launched a challenging and exciting transformation of the transport sector. This latter transformation is characterized by an equally challenging transitional period towards a new ecosystem.​

While most progress and debate around these issues are centred on vehicles, it is becoming evident that the road infrastructure sector will play a significant role. Our sector must ensure that all the relevant parts of this new ecosystem work harmoniously in the same direction, to provide seamless, safe, efficient, and sustainable transport.​

The areas of work are the following: 

  • Regulatory and policy challenges ​
  • Technological innovations ​
  • Future workforce and social needs ​
  • New business models 
Road efficiency and sustainability   

Environmental concerns have been the top agenda priorities for governmental entities. ​

There is no longer doubt regarding the impact of human activities on environmental degradation and climate change. Now the challenge ahead is to balance economic growth with responsible energy consumption and environmental protection. ​

This is particularly important for the road sector. The provision of efficient, flexible, safe and clean transport infrastructure can become a precondition for economic development as it boosts productivity by facilitating the movement of people and goods. On the other hand, the rapid development of roads and highway construction and an estimated 70 million vehicles entering the market every year presents environmental challenges that need to be addressed in the interest of long-term sustainability. ​

The road sector has suffered from a reputation of “unsustainable industry”, but on the contrary has been extremely proactive in advancing research and developing and implementing new environment-friendly technologies and sustainable solutions. The sector is effectively implementing cost-efficient solutions that are sought to bring real improvements in environmental indicators. Moving forward, better roads must be planned, designed, built and operated by practitioners who are knowledgeable and willing to take responsibility for the environmental impact of the road infrastructure sector. 

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash


By obtaining the IRF Startup Label, your company will benefit from IRF’s official endorsement during 3 consecutive years:​

Year 1 – Mentoring and Exposure

You will access to mentoring provided by a qualified IRF expert focusing on a topic of your choice. You will also gain exposure to relevant audiences by co-signing 1 official press release with the IRF and having the opportunity to participate in IRF’s networking events.

Year 2 and 3 – Networking

You will define your yearly priorities with an IRF representative. IRF will then help with a number of key networking actions: introduction to relevant companies, experts, public bodies (depending on your goals and IRF’s capabilities).

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“The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something”

Seth Godin