Road safety technology company Acusensus is on a mission to reduce road deaths globally – and it recently cracked the Indian market. Key success factors included:
When Alexander Jannink’s friend was killed by a distracted driver in the US, Jannink saw an opportunity to improve road safety. Across the world, around 1.35 million people die each year due to road traffic accidents, according to the World Health Organisation. Distracted driving – which includes using a mobile phone – is increasingly a leading cause of deaths.
In 2018, Jannink and Ravin Mirchandani co-founded Acusensus to develop an automated camera system that could capture dangerous driving behaviour. The company developed and deployed the world’s first mobile phone enforcement program in New South Wales, which went live in 2019. Acusensus’s solutions harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive behavioural change.
With its vision of making a global impact, Acusensus is now working with governments and transport authorities in Europe, the US, Southeast Asia and the United Arab Emirates.
India has a high rate of road accidents, with an estimated 299,000 road deaths per year, according to the World Health Organisation. Meanwhile, Acusensus was keen to enter the market.
Over several years Austrade arranged introductions to well-placed Indian federal and state government officials. In early 2021, Acusensus’s first deployment in India went live, after three years of planning and negotiation.
‘Winning this important contract would not have been possible without Austrade’s advice and support,’ says Ravin Mirchandani, Acusensus Chairman.
A test bed for Australian technology
The Indian Government has installed a ‘road safety corridor’ along a 30-kilometre stretch of road modelled on an Australian road corridor, as part of the Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project. Acusensus has now deployed a speed-enforcement system along the corridor. It comprises radar-based mobile speed enforcement camera trailers and fixed installations.
In partnership with Ador, India’s largest provider of traffic safety and enforcement solutions, Acusensus developed the solution for the Indian market. It requires minimal power and no fibre optic data cables. Acusensus also worked closely with SaveLIFE Foundation, an Indian not-for-profit working to improve road safety.
‘By being involved on the ground innovating for and with India, we believe we can make a huge difference in starting to bring down the road toll,’ says Jannink. ‘We also hope this will open doors for other model safety corridor projects that can involve other Australian companies.’
Four keys to success in India
Four factors were critical to Acusensus’s success:
- Selecting a partner with shared values
Acusensus’s partnership with Ador was especially important during COVID-19, because the Acusensus team couldn’t travel to India.
‘Choice of partner is critical, so don’t rush it,’ says Mirchandani. ‘Find a partner that aligns with your values.
‘Keep in mind that a lot of the work a local partner is doing on the ground isn’t being seen. So being aligned on values helps with that trust and communication.’
- Designing a market-specific solution
Mirchandani says Indian governments are receptive to Australian technology, particularly in road safety.
‘Market-focused technology is critical,’ says Jannink. ‘Take the market seriously and understand it is different and probably needs a unique approach.’
‘It is a market that is in some ways challenging but it has the ability to provide a great set of opportunities for a business,’ says Mirchandani. ‘It is also a market that is eager to work with Australian companies.’
- Having patience in the process
Mirchandani comments that a strategic approach often works best in India. This means taking a long-term view and adopting a step-by-step approach.
‘India is a market that requires investment to understand the local context of where you can make a difference, and … to align your offering with that,’ he says.
- Leveraging local connections
Building personal relationships with the right people in India has been vital for Acusensus.
‘That’s where Austrade has played a really important role,’ says Jannink. ‘We’ve worked with Austrade not just in India but across the world in a lot of the emerging markets we’re looking for.
‘Austrade can facilitate a warm introduction, which makes it so much easier. It ensures a softer landing.’
Austrade networks generate vital contacts in India
Acusensus’s relationship with Austrade goes back to the company’s very beginning. Austrade connected Jannink with Mirchandani when he was looking to establish the business in 2017. Since then, Austrade has provided market knowledge, facilitated connections and assisted with funding access throughout the company’s export journey.
‘Austrade’s network has been phenomenally helpful,’ says Jannink. ‘With Austrade, you don’t have to go it alone. There are skilled people who can help you articulate what you’re wanting to achieve and support you in finding the best market.’
Looking ahead, Acusensus is leveraging its success in India to enter new markets.
‘The unique speed enforcement solution we developed for India has presented major opportunities to export into other emerging markets, particularly Africa,’ says Mirchandani.
Africa has the highest rates of road deaths in the world. Acusensus hopes to bring its innovative Australian technology to improve road safety and ultimately save lives.
How Austrade can help
Austrade is ramping up initiatives to help Australian companies export to India. This is because opportunities are growing fast.
Market liberalisation is affecting multiple sectors of the Indian economy – from mining to passenger transport. India is on target to become a US$5 trillion economy by 2025.
To help Australian businesses explore and pursue opportunities, the Australian Government has launched the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) program.
AIBX provides insights, advice, and business connections to grow two-way trade and investment between Australia and India.
Find out how to get involved in AIBX. Contact Austrade online or call 13 28 78.
The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s international trade promotion and investment attraction agency.
We deliver quality trade and investment services to businesses to grow Australia’s prosperity. We do this by generating and providing market information and insights, promoting Australian capability, and facilitating connections through our extensive global network.
To discover how we can help you and your business, visit austrade.gov.au or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 13 28 78 (within Australia).