Urban mobility: a cross-cutting challenge

The theme of smart, green and integrated transport has been identified as one of the major societal challenges which will be addressed within the framework of Horizon 2020. The 2011 Transport White Paper further reinforces the importance of taking action in this domain during the next decade. Urban mobility is a particularly challenging task. It addresses a number of topics such as transport (including new mobility concepts, transport organisation, logistics,transport systems safety and security), environmental issues (reduction of greenhouse gases, air pollution and noise), urban planning (new concepts for bringing work and living closer together), and has an important impact both at the economic and social levels (new business creation, employment, social inclusion, housing and location strategies). The overarching aim is to improve the quality of life of European citizens who – in increasing numbers – live in large urban conglomerations where much of Europe's economic performance is generated.

Sustainable urban mobility can only be achieved if breakthrough innovations leading to greener, more inclusive, safer and smarter solutions are found. Failing to achieve this will – in the long run - result in high societal, ecological, and economic costs. However, new innovative mobility concepts – in particular when individual means of transportation are to be replaced by public and collective means of transport – should be accepted by citizens. Bringing about behavioural changes with no disadvantages for the quality of life and the cost of living in urban areas will be one of the great challenges to be addressed in this area.

Expected Impact

The key objective of a KIC on urban mobility will be to ensure a greener, more inclusive, safer and smarter urban mobility system.

As already outlined above, the theme is highly relevant from a societal and public policy point of view. It also is highly relevant from a socio-economic perspective since it involves important economic sectors in GDP and employment terms, such as the automotive or the construction sectors. Urban mobility is, in addition, linked with environmental protection strategies and fully embedded in policies of social inclusion, location, housing and urban design.

A KIC on urban mobility is both in line with the priorities defined in Horizon 2020 and with Europe 2020 strategy objectives of achieving a smarter, more sustainable, low carbon and inclusive urban development. A KIC in this thematic area could contribute to each of Europe 2020 strategy objectives by, for example, the promotion of ecoefficient solutions, intelligent ICT schemes for traffic management, and provision of more efficient and affordable transport services.

In fact, since urban mobility is by nature systemic, a KIC on this area could offer many possibilities for innovation along the innovation chain, such as the development of multi-modal transport systems, and smarter and more sustainable transport solutions.

A KIC on urban mobility draws on a solid technological and industrial base and offers a potential for new products and services2, in particular in the fields of sustainable planning and eco-industries.

Furthermore, the development of innovative urban mobility models will also benefit from the strong policy attention and support that this thematic priority profits from. In addition, these innovative urban models can have a global impact if they are transferred as best practices to the massively growing urban conglomerations in other parts of the world, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

A KIC in this area will put urban mobility and urban transport planning in the wider context of sustainable urban planning and spatial development at local and regional level. The KIC would thus have the advantage of working in a multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral field and of contributing to overcome the current levels of organisational fragmentation the sector faces. It would create the opportunity to establish a closer cooperation between public authorities (mainly at local, regional levels), local associations, and the private sector (such as developers and infrastructure actors), research institutes and universities (integrating the knowledge triangle).

Bringing together world-class partners in new configurations will give the KIC on urban mobility the possibility of optimising existing resources and exploit the business opportunities created through these new value-chains.

The KIC on Urban Mobility will focus on those activities of the innovation triangle which can benefit from additional Union support specifically via the EIT. In reality, the major added value of a KIC in this area will be its role in integrating the three strands of the knowledge triangle and in bringing systemic change in the way the innovation players work together. Likewise, KIC focus on people-driven innovation, which puts students, researchers and entrepreneurs at the heart of KIC efforts, will be fundamental to address the challenges outlined above. Consequently, there will be a strong emphasis on education/training, entrepreneurship and deployment of results, e.g. developing skills and knowledge of urban transport professionals in local and regional administrations (life-long learning / staff exchange programmes / professional training), proposing specific higher education programmes in Urban Mobility (summer schools / exchange schemes), taking innovative transport concepts successfully to the market (support for spin-offs and start-ups from universities and research institutions, etc.).

Moreover, the concept of co-location could be strengthened within a KIC focussing on this theme, since naturally this thematic area has a strong local and regional dimension.

Cross-cutting Priorities

  • Open Innovation
  • Socio-economic science and humanities
  • Cross-cutting Key-Enabling Technologies (KETs)
  • International cooperation
Application date
Social sciences : Management and Public administration, Economy