• English
  • Español
  • Innovation Interview: Kido Dynamics and how big data can predict mobility

    by Inés Zamarro & Alba Saldaña | Dec 10, 2020 | Reading time: 7 minutes | Blog


    Nowadays, the use of big data is one of the main strategies to get information and to make more effective decisions. What if we could use that information to analyse and predict the population mobility?

    We have met Ignacio Barrios, CEO at Kido Dynamics, who has told us the story about how they have built a start-up which can help us to generate deep knowledge in terms of Smart Tourism, Smart Cities, Smart Mobility and, also how it may forecast the spread of diseases like COVID-19.



    First of all, please tell us more about how you came up with the idea of your project. How did it all start?

    My confounder, Alberto Hernando, had been working with different sets of data during his PhD and post-doc. He’s a specialist in quantum physics. In the meantime, he was aware of Sandy Pentland’s work on social physics, and how human behaviour can be “expressed” or “interpreted” using physics-inspired equations. But human behaviour is somehow unpredictable, as it’s quantum mechanics, where physicists work with probabilities, not certainty. He connected the dots and decided to apply these quantum principles to human behaviour, and it worked.

    We met while I was working as an investment manager for a family office scouting for investment opportunities, and I fell in love with the technology. I’m an engineer as a trainee, so I could somehow grasp the potential behind this technology. Since I had been working in mobility for several years, there was a clear match in terms of complementary skills and vision, so Kido was born.

    Now that you have mentioned Alberto Hernando, your co-founder… Both of you are Spaniards, but you decided to base your company in Switzerland, which has been pointed out as the world’s most innovative country. Was the local innovation ecosystem one of the reasons behind that decision? In your opinion, what are the key factors of this success?

    The fact we were both in Switzerland was more of a coincidence rather than a deliberate decision since I was living and working here, and Alberto completed his post-doc at EPFL.

    Nevertheless, the Swiss ecosystem provides unique conditions to nurture and promote innovation, mostly when it comes to access to public funding, grants, and seed money. As a small country with limited natural resources (apart from its breathtaking mountains), it has decided to focus on high added value professional profiles and deep tech companies. 

    ETH (Zurich) and EPFL (Lausanne) have climbed to the top 10 best tech universities in Europe. Also different cantons, and hence public entities, are focusing on different edge initiatives such as Crypto Valley (in Zug, focused on cryptocurrencies) or Security Valley (in Geneva, which core is cybersecurity).

    So, I think it’s a blend between long term vision about technology, public support, and last but not least, a well-established network of early investors and public/private initiatives that provide early fuel to start-ups.

    Talking about that, we know that Kido Dynamics has built strong partnerships with relevant institutions and associations in the field of innovation such as Venturelab, Swissnex and Innosuisse, among others. Can you let us know how important it was to join them? How have they supported your company?

    All three of them are key components of these public/private initiatives. Since even if they are run as private companies, they receive important public support.

    This creates a virtuous circle, where new start-ups are identified, supported and nurtured, especially through Innosuisse (a public coaching program driven to a quality label) and VentureLab (public/private initiative with multiple learning modules and start-ups focused events), and then encourage internationalization and expansion through Swissnex and Swiss Global Enterprise (SG-E).

    There’s then a paved path that start-ups can follow, walk on solid ground, and learn while doing, with coaches, experts and professionals who have worked with hundreds of start-ups before yours. This creates an accelerated learning curve and makes start-ups ready for real business.


    There’s then a paved path that start-ups can follow, walk on solid ground, and learn while doing, with coaches, experts and professionals who have worked with hundreds of start-ups before yours. This creates an accelerated learning curve and makes start-ups ready for real business.

    Ignacio Barrios

    CEO, Kido Dynamics

    Let’s go in-depth on Kido Dynamics. Your offer includes different solutions for multiple industries including smart cities, smart mobility, location intelligence and Smart Tourism. How are you adapting your technology to the specific needs of each segment?

    As a mantra, we aim to democratize big data. This implies to make data easily accessible and available to anyone who is not a data scientist. So, from the very beginning, we had a very broad ambition, which we needed to materialize.

    We realized very soon that most of the industries depending on people (and you named a few) had very similar needs when it comes to understanding people’s behaviour. So, we worked with industry experts, defined those standards that were shared for all these industries, and tried to be able to answer multiple questions with the same data set.

    We know that this year Kido Dynamics has been working on analyzing the correlation between mobility and COVID-19, trying to predict the spread of the disease. Please, let us know more about it.

    As an academia born start-up, we always keep an eye on research groups and publications, and we maintain collaborative relationships with different institutions and working groups.

    One of these groups is IFISC (Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems, part of the CSIC), and specifically, we started to work with José Javier (JJ) Ramasco, with whom Alberto had collaborated in the past.

    When JJ was inquired to analyze COVID-19 spread in Spain, he thought of us to provide mobility information in a fast, scalable and accurate way. It was very easy for us to meet his requirements in terms of granularity and continuity since we were working with other private companies in the same terms.

    The results were brought out as pre-print in MedrXiv that had an important social and political impact.

    In line with this paper, we also published an essay linking mobility and social inequality which we consider an important factor when it comes to making decisions about future confinement or mobility restricted measures. 

    Specifically talking about your funding strategy, you have achieved both public and private funding. Indeed, you have recently raised a Pre-series A financing round of CHF 850,000. Can you tell us more about such a relevant milestone?

    Raising financing round, it’s not an easy task, especially during COVID. You have to bear in mind that we started conversations for this round in November 2019, and closed in August 2020, 10 months later and in the middle of a global pandemic.

    It’s true that in the middle we had to turn down initial investment terms that were not in line with our strategy, but it was still a long and exhausting road.

    From our side, we started building relationships with different investors pretty early, which creates a mutual trustworthy relation and eases things for investment.

    Since our development did not stop during COVID and we actually managed to close some important contracts in this period, it sent an important market signal about our capacity to overcome complex situations and navigate uncharted waters. This fact, along with our internationalization strategy and technology readiness, were key to close this round.

    This funding opportunity, along with the H2020-SME grant, has provided us with the necessary funding to complete our product development and boost our sales strategy, two key elements for our next Series A.

    Indeed, in regards to public funding, your company was granted with almost 1.5 million euros from the SME Instrument Program (now EIC Accelerator). How has the European Commission supported the development of your projects?

    The financing boost is obvious. With this vehicle, start-ups don’t need to continuously look at their bank account for almost two years, so you can really focus on technology development and growth. Nevertheless, it can also create a false security feeling, since money will disappear anytime, and a start-up needs to be ready for market fueled growth.

    Apart from the grant itself, there are multiple mechanisms of support for start-ups, such as accelerators, coaches, events, etc. It also puts the company in the radar of investors and other companies, while creating an invaluable marketing buzz. I might say that intangibles could be even more valuable than tangible perks.

    Very related to this, there is another turning point for a start-up: make a pitch to defend your project. Due to your successful path, we are sure that you should be a real expert in this area. What should be the most valuable advice you can give to someone who is going to face this challenge?

    I don’t really like to share my advice on this topic since every person is different, and most importantly, every start-up is different.

    Something I have learnt is that any pitch should evolve with the company. At the very beginning, we were very focused on the uniqueness of our technology, since we did not have customers or products. Once we engaged with initial customers, we highlighted the potential that this would represent. And now, with an important customers’ base and different products, we need to emphasize our growth metrics.

    So, I think it’s important to understand where a company is and what they are looking for, and obviously try to leverage its strengths.

    We have been pleased to work with you and take a little part in your project development. How do you think Evolution has helped you with your funding strategy? How was our collaboration?

    I’m still surprised about certain things when I go through some documents we have exchanged during this collaboration, and how we’re still using most of the material that was generated at the beginning. Actually, in some cases, we had to get back to it after some iterations.

    In that regard, I think working with very experienced coaches, as it’s the case of Evolution, helps start-ups to bring order out of chaos, and frame more adequately a proper value proposition, and to some extent to transform an idea/technology in a potential business.

    Last but not least, what are your expectations for the future?

    I hope bars and restaurants will open soon again and we might be able to have a proper Christmas.


    Thank you, Ignacio, for your time, and for sharing your experience with us. We hope you can continue developing your interesting project and achieving all your goals… And we really hope you can fully enjoy Christmas!