VTT promoting transport research and innovation cooperation between the EU and the USA
According to an expert study, there are differences in the research cultures of the EU and the United States of America, which can be utilised to create new innovations in joint research projects. The study of the EU and USA transport research coordinating bodies, ECTRI (European Conference of Transport Research Institutes) and TRB (Transportation Research Board) surveyed for the first time the role of research in relation to the transport market and innovations in the sector. The experts note that more research cooperation should be implemented because the objective is to create larger research projects in the future.
In the study, the experts reviewed transport sector research management, funding and innovation architecture in the USA and the EU. The report describes funding arrangements and assesses their functionality, and also studies which kind of research and innovations the systems promote.
There are major differences in transport research and innovations between the EU and the USA. In the United States, research activities clearly focus on road transport to find practical market-based solutions, whereas the EU research activities more comprehensively cover other forms of transport – such as railways and waterborne transport – and thus have a broader approach. Both research cultures could benefit from each other’s strengths and, on the other hand, compensate their own shortcomings. When different approaches are combined, a variety of differences in opinion and practical problems are likely to arise. On the other hand, the combination will offer preconditions for new innovations, related to both research processes and the results to be utilised. One of the important conclusions of the report and a major argument in favour of increased cooperation is that the challenges created by transport are almost completely homogenous – only the manner in which the problems are solved by means of research and the nature of innovations differ from each other.
The workgroup proposes several concrete measures which, if implemented, would allow researchers and research organisations to participate in more extensive, genuinely global research programmes. New innovations will also more likely be discovered when the interaction in transport research between the EU and the USA increases.
The report proposes the mobilisation of research networks between the EU and the USA, development of cooperation models and methods as well as the creation of joint research and technology programmes. Barriers to cooperation should be systematically reviewed and eliminated, and the effectiveness of communication should be improved by creating shared databases, for example. Plenty of opportunities to improve cooperation also lie in research training and the creation of shared training programmes. Furthermore, the report proposes enabling shared research funding by, for example, combining the EU framework programme funding and the US federal funding.
The workgroup’s proposals have been presented to the EU Commissioner Responsible for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik, and the proposals will be utilised when planning future EU research programmes. VTT Chief Scientist Pekka Leviäkangas was a member of the workgroup named by ECTRI and TRB and which conducted the study. Technology Manager Heikki Kanner was VTT’s representative in ECTRI.
An online report is available at International Collaboration in Transportation Research - EU/US Transport Research Collaboration: Challenges and opportunities (pdf):
+358 20 722 6210