Transport research - the road to recovery
One of the most important European forums for the transport sector is being held this week in Athens. The Transport Research Arena (TRA) Conference, which opened on 23 April and runs until 26 April, brings together more than 1,200 stakeholders from across the transport sector.
The Conference is organised by the European Commission, the Greek Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, the Conference of European Directors of Roads, the European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC), the European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) and the European Technology Platform (ETP) WATERBORNE. Held every two years, it aims to contribute to innovation in sustainable mobility for Europe and to major policy.
The organisers note that this is the first time that all modes of surface, road, rail and waterborne transport are being represented. With this new expanded format, it gives everyone attending the ability to exchange ideas and share their experiences across different research sectors.
Expert speakers from Europe and abroad have been invited to speak over the week in plenary and strategic sessions about future prospects of the transport system, its role in the societies of tomorrow and the steps to be taken towards desired targets.
Opening the conference on 23 April, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn spoke to a packed conference hall and stressed the important role that research and innovation can play in generating growth and employment.
'Our future depends on competitive industries that are able to create jobs. This means investing in research, in new technologies and in creating a climate that boosts innovation. Europe 2020 sets a clear goal of investing 3% of GDP [gross domestic product] in research and innovation by 2020. Many Member States, however, still have some way to go,' she stated.
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn also added that it is Europe's leading knowledge and innovation economies that are 'weathering the economic crisis better.'
The latest statistics compiled in the 2011 Innovation Scoreboard show that while overall innovation performance has improved across Member States, there is a strong correlation between the economic rebound of Member States in 2010 and their average level of research and development (R&D) investments over the period 2004-2009.
'The rule seems to be: the higher the average R&D intensity in the past, the better the economic growth today,' said the Commissioner.
She also emphasised the role Horizon 2020 will play: 'From 2014 onwards, it will make our support for research and innovation simpler, more efficient, and more effective at delivering the bigger impacts needed to sustain growth and tackle societal challenges such as climate change and energy security. Horizon 2020 aims to strike the right balance between supporting scientific excellence, boosting industrial competitiveness and finding answers to societal challenges.'
Following the opening speeches, the Commissioner then visited the individual stands showcasing European research as well as those of companies representing the transport industry.
First stop was the stand for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)-funded project SAFERIDER ('Advanced telematics for enhancing the safety and comfort of motorcycle riders'), which received EUR 3,473,899 of funding under the 'Information and communication technologies' (ICT) theme.
Representing the project was Stella Nikolaou who showed the Commissioner the innovative advances that had been developed as part of the project. Speaking to CORDIS News, Mrs Nikolaou commented that the Conference gave researchers like herself the chance to expand their knowledge and get inspired by new ideas. 'This conference allows researchers like myself the ability to share more technical data in person as well as allow the cross-fertilisation of ideas across the different modes of transport.' She said another important part of the conference was the ability to showcase research: 'Research like SAFERIDER are not well known, not even in Greece, and this event allows us to show what we and Greece are capable of.'
This was a sentiment echoed by many other attendees.
'The conference is an occasion to meet stakeholders involved in research for all transport modes and discuss common challenges,' said Xavier Aertsens from the ERTRAC stand.
Meanwhile, the staff at the ETP WATERBORNE stand were pleased at the inclusion of water transport in this year's conference. 'We mustn't forget that in many parts of Europe, inland waterways are used just as much for freight transport as roads are. Ports meanwhile are the interface between road and rail transport with water transport. A third importance of including water transport in this conference is that we all share the same technical issues such as reducing pollution so there is a lot that we can share and learn from each other,' said one staffer.
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn was also on hand to present the awards to the winners of the Young European Arena for Research (YEAR) 2012 competition. The YEAR awards are open to early stage researchers (ESRs) of all ages and just as the TRA conference has been expanded to include more modes of transport, so have the YEAR awards been expanded beyond the original focus on road transport.
The winners were: Rawia El Rashidy from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, who won in the field of Governance of the transport system; Nan Zheng from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, in the field of Transport, mobility and infrastructure; Anthony Winterlich from the National University of Ireland, Galway, in the field of Safety and security; Pejman Keikhaei Dehdezi from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, in the field of Energy, environment and resources; Riccardo Panciroli, University of Bologna, Italy, in the field of Design and production (vehicles, vessels and infrastructure); and finally Lijun Wei from the Université de Technologie Belfort-Montbéliard, France, in the field of Complementarities of transport modes.
All 30 nominees had the opportunity to present their posters and showcase their efforts at the conference.
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Category: General policy
Data Source Provider: CORDIS News attendance at Transport Research Arena Conference in Athens, Greece
Document Reference: Based on CORDIS News attendance at Transport Research Arena Conference in Athens, Greece
Subject Index: Aerospace Technology; Transport