The transport sector is being reshaped by the mitigation of climate change, with development and deployment of innovative technologies, utilising innovative mobility solutions fueled by data, and creating value-adding collaboration between the private and public sector.
All of these blocks are also crucial in maintaining and boosting European competitiveness. Strong European competitiveness equals strong competitiveness of Member States. How can we and how should we utilise results from research and innovation to shape policy-making at all levels to create sustainable growth and a European transport brand that is competitive and sustainable?
Since systemic change means change for all of us, we need to find the right paths and tools together. Answering the complex challenges requires innovative technological solutions and new ways of collaboration in different clusters. We need to find ways to build up partnerships that create win-win situations and enable not only the development but also the deployment of innovations.
Europe needs to invest in radical innovations and truly seize the emerging opportunities arising from collaborative and circular economies in order to claim a place as the frontrunner. The responses from the RDI are crucial in finding the right mix of enablers and identifying the barriers that need to be removed in order to boost European competitiveness.
Different transport modes are evolving towards more environmentally friendly operations to comply with the more stringent legal framework. The transition towards a greener transport sector is not only to comply with legal requirements but also based on the industry’s own initiatives to be more responsible and answer the green calls from the users.
At the same time, legislators are trying to strike right balance between predictability and flexibility – to give legal certainty and enable innovation. What kind of policies are needed to give the right guidance? How to regulate and deregulate in the right balance so that the correct mix of skills can be achieved to support competitiveness?
Besides moving towards greener transport, we need to consider the social fairness of future developments, especially the impacts of automation. How can we, with help from research, find the means to mitigate the negative impacts of the change that the transport sector is going through? Instead of boosting digital divide, we need to work together to allow socially fair transition. We also have to take into account the massive set of new skills needed to be able to respond to the changing environment.
We can do a lot with legal tools and creating financial incentives to guide us towards more sustainable and fair growth. However, it is also about the companies themselves. We should shed light on whether business policies of transport companies need to change in order to keep up with the pace of developments in society.
Are we hungry enough for success to foster an atmosphere of cross-sectoral co-operation beyond transport? It is time to bring forth showcases of demand-driven innovation and strong entrepreneurship and move from technical discussion to policy level in order to respond to the challenges shaped by collaborative and circular economies.
In this plenary, the focus will be on measures that need to be taken in order to accumulate investments to foster European competitiveness, to map out the emerging trends in innovation policy that support the fundamental modernisation of European mobility. We need to rethink the ways the research community can support and guide the transition at hand, from reassessment of professional competencies needed in the new era to horizontal issues, such as cybersecurity.