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Empowering Transport Research with the Special Focus on the New Accession States and the Candidate Countries

Final Report Summary - ETRA.CC (Empowering Transport Research with the Special Focus on the New Accession States and the Candidate Countries)

Transport has become a high-technology industry in Europe. This is to some extent due to fact that the most recent research results have been transferred into practice. Both the European Commission's Framework Programmes and the national research programmes across the European Research Area are providers of transport research results. It is crucial to ensure that expertise and findings are made widely available, and the results are compared and coordinated in an appropriate way. In the new context of an enlarged Europe the instruments initially proposed in the Commission transport strategy (the 2001 White Paper) were reviewed and adapted. This has implicated changes in certain policy areas with the aim to provide solutions more conformable with national, regional or local inputs while nevertheless ensuring a Europe-wide transport market.

The 'Empowering transport research with the special focus on the new accession states and the candidate countries' (ETRA.CC) project has been targeted to support European integration process in transport research under the special focus on Eastern European enlargement. The project therefore addresses the transition process, which encompassed a change from planning steered systems by the state to a market driven approach taking in account the specific characteristics of the research infrastructure in transport sector. As a result of ETRA.CC the European transport research community is provided with a multi-lingual online internet based networking platform for all types of transport research, which can be accessed at http://www.etra.cc. By collecting and structuring operational knowledge, the website supports on one hand the stimulation and strengthening of cooperation and networking activities among researchers, research facility owners and users, facility operators, and educational organisations by and on the other hand motivates stakeholders to intense dissemination and networking processes.

The project has been based on the existing network of partners formed by previous INTRANSNET project, the network of medium and large transport research facilities in Europe. In order to realise the goals set we brought together three partners to achieve the critical-mass and to find technological solutions as well as to exploit the project results.

The project team implemented multilingual web-page with the aim to motivate the stakeholders to use project services more easily and frequently. It should lead to encouraging European cooperation and networking. This web page has provided numerous services to support and stimulate cooperation: knowledge directory, download centre, event database, information on technologies and RTD news, information on calls and funding, etc. The core service is the access to database of transport research facilities in Europe. Users can take advantage of searching in the database's many features, including information on research facilities on test beds, model testing laboratories, prototype engineering and simulators. Work also concentrated on a human skills database, which offers researchers the opportunity to add their research profile into the database. This database provides a list of these researchers, their particular areas of interest and expertise together with links to more detailed information (papers, posters).

It has become manifest that transport research institutions in the new European Member States are not yet fully involved in existing networks, associations and projects. The project recommended a policy supporting the build up of new demand on the one hand and to improve qualification on the other hand. In a market driven environment, state owned concepts have failed and industrial demand in the new member states missed. It was not up to ETRA.CC to formulate national policies for the development of these regions but to think about financial incentives for global industry not only to produce transport products (like cars) in the new member states, but also to have part of the research and development there.

It is also helpful to develop local medium sized industry active in research to fill the gap between the producing foreign enterprises and very small local initiatives of individual researchers. This will also help to keep young well educated researchers in their country and to foster cooperation between different countries and between different research institutions and industry. Only with the demand and close co-operation between industry and research institutions / universities applied research can be successfully carried out and applied to effective transport solution and services. This all will help to create an innovative friendly climate and trigger the development of creative solutions by introducing radical new ways of thinking. Further activities should employ inter-functional participation and communication and encourage Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) for future technologies with high potential.

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