Securing the Future of Urban Mobility Research & Innovation in Europe

What should urban mobility R&I address?

In the previous framework programmes, the focus of most urban mobility R&I projects has been on close-to-market deployment of innovation. This path is worthwhile continuing. However, more is needed than just developing new solutions and technologies. There should be increased attention for and effort on preparing and enabling local authorities to work with and deploy innovation. The R&I efforts within the field of urban mobility should create a policy outfit for cities and regions that makes it possible for them to point innovation, disruptive or planned, in the appropriate direction, in a way that it serves sustainable mobility policy goals.

The position of transport and urban mobility in Horizon Europe

Polis appreciates the new conceptual framework launched on the 2nd of May with regards to innovation funding programmes. However, as it stands, transport research would not see its own dedicated work programme – which was the case in the previous framework programmes. Transport will be part of a clustered challenge “Energy, Climate and Transport”. Polis regrets this choice: the importance of transport, and within that urban mobility, might become diluted.

Polis asks that transport research should receive an equal and balanced share in the clustered work programmes and be not made subsidiary to the policy fields it is clustered with, i.e. energy and climate. Also, within transport, a dedicated urban mobility stream of call topics should be defined, with appropriate budgets allocated to these topics. Transport should also raise its profile in those parts of the research programmes that currently fit under Energy (such as the Smart Cities and Communities Light House project stream), and ICT.

Urban mobility as a key issue in Horizon Europe missions

The concept of missions as part of the global challenges pillar is refreshing. Polis looks forward to further information about how they will take shape in concrete terms. The clear reference to clean mobility in the EC communication is welcome. A mission on clean mobility should clearly relate to ambitions and targets that have been expressed earlier in relevant EU policy documents, e.g. carbon-neutral logistics in cities by 2030. Polis would also welcome the mainstreaming of urban mobility in other missions. Indeed, most missions could clearly have an urban mobility or transport component. To name just a few, reverse logistics when referring to circular economy, healthy lifestyles and active travel as well as air quality improvement, when referring to the fight against cancer and obesity.

R&I Governance and instruments

Polis welcomes the overall view of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, including Horizon Europe, that funding should be better targeted to policy relevant outputs. Polis calls for more policy relevance in research and innovation. Instruments for policy transfer and upscaling of solutions should be fostered. More funds for exchange and capacity building targeted at cities and regions – similar to the former IEE - STEER programme, which never saw a proper replacement – is therefore needed. Upscaling, transferability and replication approaches are also instrumental in making sure that EU-funded innovations and solutions do not disappear after having been piloted, but are taken forward through a legacy that allows for further roll-out, deployment and exploitation on a larger scale and on the longer term.

A full version of the document is available here. To read other Polis position and discussion papers, click here.