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“In cities, the resilience of transport infrastructures will become increasingly important”

eu mobility grants

The mobility and logistics sector in cities is evolving rapidly. To cope with these changes, the European Commission is implementing grants for innovative projects. Patricia Bellver, R&D&I management consultant in the Mobility knowledge area of Zabala Innovation, outlines these opportunities and warns: “In the future, issues related to resilience and the reduction of the environmental impact of transport infrastructures, appropriate environments for reliable data and the monitoring of emissions from multimodal transport chains will gain more weight in the European Commission’s funding for innovative projects in the field of urban mobility and logistics”.

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They are the EIT Urban Mobility and the multimodal transport, infrastructure, and logistics topics within Destination 6 of Cluster 5 of the Horizon Europe programme.

It is an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, an independent body of the European Union. EIT Urban Mobility usually launches several calls for proposals. One of the most interesting is the Main Innovation Call, which addresses various urban mobility challenges around nine thematic areas: active mobility, intramodality, infrastructure, accessibility, logistics, public spaces, mobility of the future, energy, and sustainability. The call is published annually and closes this year on 4 June.

The current EIT Urban Mobility call focuses on three main themes: urban logistics, public transport, and transport electrification and alternative fuels. Projects are sought that have a very advanced technological maturity level (TRL) and are close to the market and that allow companies to implement their solution in two urban areas as a demonstration, which gives them visibility and projection towards other cities.

In the case of the urban logistics theme, it can be companies whose activity focuses on transport planning and operation, or the distribution of goods in urban areas. In the case of public transport, these are companies that provide public transport management services, transport optimisation, concessionaires, companies working on new models of shared mobility. In the third case, the electrification of transport and alternative fuels, we are talking about projects conducted by companies that promote or implement zero-emission vehicle solutions or alternative fuels in urban environments.

Yes, it is sufficient that they are entities established in the Member States or in third countries that are associated to the Horizon Europe programme. Projects must be managed by consortia involving at least one commercial entity, two cities or urban areas, and one transport concessionaire.

The EIT Urban Mobility has allocated 8 million euros to this Main Call, divided between the urban logistics topic with 2.5 million euros, the electrification topic with another 2.5 million euros, and the public transport topic with 3 million euros. The funding usually allocated to each approved project ranges from 250,000 euros to 500,000 euros, which represents a co-financing rate of 35% of the eligible costs.

There are four topics with a deadline of 5 September. The time to prepare them is now, as these calls require a certain margin. The first topic aims to optimise multimodal transport to improve passenger and freight mobility, including validated solutions for secure data exchange, detection, and resolution of bottlenecks in the transport network, and tools to reduce delays and pollutant emissions. A 30% reduction in travel delays, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is expected. The second aims to demonstrate the implementation of 10 standard processes in logistics nodes, ensuring seamless access and scalability. Standardised multimodal transport units will be developed and models with artificial intelligence and IoT will be applied to improve efficiency and promote emission-free vehicles in logistics networks.

In the third, projects should include improvements to transport infrastructure through technologies such as IoT and decentralised artificial intelligence for real-time decisions and safety, solutions to convert raw data into smart data and optimise infrastructure management. This topic promotes data sharing to move towards smart mobility concepts, and at least three pilot demonstrations are planned. Regarding the fourth topic, it proposes to analyse the influence of policy makers on sustainable and non-sustainable transport policies, highlighting the impact on accessibility in peripheral areas and seeking synergies with reforms of EU governance instruments to gradually reduce the use of private vehicles.

The topics are aimed at solving the problems of infrastructure operators, traffic and urban mobility managers, and companies in the logistics and transport sector, which are necessary participants. However, as these are innovation projects, companies, research centres and universities with expertise in digital and data sharing are also essential. The budget for these four topics is 48 million euros, and around eight projects are expected to be funded.

Not in 2024. By January 2025, within Horizon Europe’s Mission Cities call, there are four topics in which mobility plays a relevant role. They aim to redesign public spaces in a climate-neutral way, to achieve pollution-free cities, to promote lifestyles towards shared and sustainable mobility, and to integrate peri-urban areas in the transition towards climate-neutral cities.

First, because we have a constant and close dialogue with different European initiatives, associations and public and private organisations that deal with these issues. Not forgetting that, in projects related to sustainable mobility, energy agents usually play a relevant role, and Zabala Innovation has a lot of experience and valuable contacts in this field. Since the 7th EU Framework Programme, we have been involved in different initiatives in the field of sustainable and connected mobility, such as the Smart Cities marketplace, ETIP SNET or Batteries Europe, and we have provided support in the development of successful proposals such as Logistar or Timon. We are also partners in some projects such as Senator, Stardust, Replicate or Atelier, in which we are involved both in the communication and dissemination of results, as well as in social innovation activities to ensure the dynamisation of debates between local agents (citizens, operators, managers and regulators).

I believe that, in Destination 6, the topics dealing with resilience in transport infrastructures and the reduction of their environmental impact will become increasingly important. Thus, the importance of maintenance, operation and decommissioning of infrastructures with an environmentally friendly perspective will increase. There will also be a strong emphasis on the creation of reliable and efficient frameworks for data sharing and best practices for monitoring emissions in multimodal transport chains.