Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

People-centric research and innovation welcomed by ITF

The European Commission's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme has provided funding of around 80 billion euros to bring innovative technologies to market, driving economic growth and creating jobs. From 2021 to 2027, a new programme - Horizon Europe - aims to pursue a revised, mission-orientated policy approach to research and innovation. But how can European research respond adequately to pressures to become more relevant for policy implementation and the deployment of new technologies in the mobility sector?

ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim explored these issues in depth during a panel discussion to celebrate the European Conference of Transport Research Institutes (ECTRI) 15 year anniversary in Brussels, Belgium, on 12 December (photo). Mr Kim welcomed the new initiative's fundamental strength being its focus on investment in people. He commended the EC's thorough consultation process with stakeholders in this respect. He highlighted ITF's work with partners in the EU and beyond to anticipate the potential impact of new transport technologies, including drone transport in cities and blockchain implementations for global freight chains.

Young Tae Kim pointed out that Horizon Europe research activities should lead to policy development within Europe since the funding is from European taxpayers and the EC should prove the value of their investment for research and innovation. Mr Kim also emphasised that the effective use of funds is essential if investments are to facilitate horizontal cooperation within governments to address transport sector challenges.

Secretary-General Kim cited support for policies to combat climate change, air pollution and congestion as critical priorities for Horizon Europe. Innovation in computer science and artificial intelligence were crucial to achieve green, safe, efficient and inclusive transport, he said. He explained how the ITF works with researchers to ensure policymakers can fully leverage transport innovations, including managing access to the curb in cities for the automated cars of the future. While the temptation can be to direct funding to bringing technologies to market, Mr Kim pointed out that Horizon Europe correctly recognises the importance of research on policy. Although he cautioned that this priority will require defending.

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