€6.33B in Horizon 2020 for a European transport system that’s better for the environment and citizens

19 Dec 2013 | News
As negotiations come to an end and attention shifts to the finer details, Science|Business examines the Horizon 2020 work programme in Smart, green and integrated transport

With a budget of €6.3 billion over seven years, the ‘Smart, green and integrated transport’ challenge in Horizon 2020 is the world’s largest R&D programme in transport research and innovation. The aim is to make Europe’s transport system more competitive and resource-efficient, climate- and environmentally-friendly, safe and seamless for the benefit of all citizens, the economy and society, according to the work programme. 

The programme will get from €540 million for three calls in 2014, as announced by the Commission on December 11, while also earmarking €35 million of that for SMEs and the new fast track to innovation scheme.

The programme is structured in four broad lines of activities: 

a) Resource efficient transport that respects the environment: this will aim to make more efficient use of natural resources, while reducing dependency on fossil fuels 

b) Better mobility, less congestion, more safety and security: to meet growing mobility needs, while also providing modern transport systems

c) Global leadership for the European transport industry: Aim to reinforce the competitiveness and performance of European transport manufacturing industries and retain areas of European leadership, such as aeronautics

d) Socio-economic and behavioural research and forward looking activities for policy making: Improved policy making to promote innovation and meet the challenges raised by transport, whilst meeting citizen’s needs

These activities are addressed under three calls for proposals: 
1. Mobility for Growth 
2. Green Vehicles 
3. Small Business and Fast Track Innovation for Transport 

Mobility for growth

The Commission has identified mobility for growth as one of twelve priority focus areas across the entire Horizon 2020 package, reflecting the fact that transport accounts for about 63 per cent of oil consumption and congestion costs the EU around €80 billion.

One of the main aims of this call, which will receive €375 million in 2014, is the deployment of traffic management and information systems, advanced traveller services and efficient construction and maintenance technologies in transport networks. This will include funding for research in low-emission vehicles and vessels, projects to reduce urban road congestion and intelligent mobility. 

The call will be structured around aviation, rail, road, and water and four cross-cutting issues – urban mobility, logistics, intelligent transport systems and infrastructure. 

The final funding line under this call will be for, ‘Socio‐economic and behavioural research and forward looking activities for policy making’. 

The European Conference of Transport Research Institutes (ECTRI) objected that a mode multi-model, collaborative approach was not taken in this call, saying that socio-economic transport research should be, “embedded in the challenge it is supposed to address,” rather than added on at the end. “Social innovation supports, and is often a pre‐requisite of, technological innovation,” said the group in a statement. This research needs to be “considered in an integrative, multi‐modal way”.

Green vehicles

This second call will see €159 million spent in 2014 on research and innovation to improve the energy efficiency of vehicles, including the use of unconventional energies in road transport such as electricity and renewable fuels. 
Activities will include advanced power-train technologies and new vehicle architectures, weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and component development for alternative fuel vehicles. 

Projects under this call will attempt to bridge the gap between research and the market in areas such as electrical vehicles, which so far have failed to entice consumers. This will include a complete revision of the electric and electronic architecture of electrical vehicles to improve energy efficiency and an ICT-based recharging system management. 

Small business and fast track to innovation

The new dedicated SME instrument, which will allow SMEs in all fields of science, technology and innovation to apply for funding singly, or in groups, will feature strongly in the transport research programme, with €35.87 million in 2014 available for small companies.

The funding will be split into two phases, beginning with a grant of €50,000 for technical feasibility and economic viability studies over six months, followed by a second stage of funding of between €0.5 million and €2.5 million for development, prototyping and other demonstration work for 12-24 months. After this, the Commission will connect SMEs to other programmes that provide funding for the commercialisation phase. 

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