Tier takes over Belfast Bikes scheme after acquiring Nextbike

Micromobility operator valued at $2bn after recently closing $200m funding round

Micromobility operator Tier is to take over the running of the Belfast equivalent of the Dublin Bikes scheme as part of a deal that sees it acquiring Nextbike.

The company, which is one of more than 20 operators seeking to operate shared e-scooter services in the Republic, said the deal with the Leipzig-based bike-sharing company takes the number of cities in which it operates from 160 to more than 400. Overall, it now offers more than 250,000 bicycles, e-bikes, cargo bikes, e-scooters and e-mopeds to users.

The Belfast Bikes scheme, which began in May 2015, has 450 bikes available from nearly 50 stations. It averages 25,000 rentals a month. Nextbike, which has operated the scheme since it launched, was founded in 2004 and is active in about 300 cities in 28 countries.

Berlin-headquartered Tier, which this year has expanded its presence to 16 countries in Europe and the Middle East, recently closed a $200 million funding round that values it at $2 billion. Its backers include Japanese conglomerate SoftBank.


Safety standards

Tier, which also recently announced a $60 million debt raise from Goldman Sachs earlier this year, is part of a major e-scooter research project at Dublin City University to set new safety standards. It is collaborating with Irish micromobility tech platform Luna, the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics and Smart DCU to monitor how artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision can improve safety for riders and pedestrians.

No financial details regarding Tier’s deal for Nextbike have been publicly disclosed.

Long-anticipated legislation allowing the use of e-scooters on Irish roads was approved by Government in October and is expected to be concluded before or shortly after Christmas.

Other operators seeking to run shared e-scooter schemes locally include international heavy hitters such as Voi, Bolt, Tier, Dott and Lime, as well as local players like Zipp, Zeus, Moby, Bleeper and Frog Mobility.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist