The power of association
Transport is evolving. Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) will have a huge effect on the way we think about travel in the future, especially how we move around our towns and cities. Making transport greener, reducing congestion, improving the quality of travel and at the same time making it safer are just a few of the areas being funded. Now EU support for research pioneered by one Belgian company is helping it get in on the ground floor, linking it up with other small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and technology providers, to create an eventual ecosystem of ITS standards, products and services right across Europe.
Over the next 10 years, it's expected that car traffic in Europe will grow by 30% and freight by 60%. Intelligent transportation systems are the weapons European governments will use to fight congestion and environmental pollution, as well as improve safety.
Regional and national 'test beds' - where companies collaborate on all aspects of future ITS development - play a vital 'intermediary' role before such systems are deployed. But getting in on the ground floor to develop applications and services for such systems as well as standards that will help them work together is nigh on impossible for individual SMEs. However, associations of SMEs, such as the national ITS associations - with their strong networking expertise - are well placed to do so.
Research for SME Associations funding is therefore helping the ITS TEST BEDS project research how an expected myriad of applications and services, ranging from in-vehicle technologies to national infrastructures, will work together and provide a range of new business opportunities for SMEs across Europe.
'The Commission agreed funding for the Europe-wide project because of its span and the strong industry involvement and collaboration with the research partners,' says Karel Renckens, Project Manager at ITS Belgium. The company's research into ITS has led to the project being created.
'When fully deployed, we expect that the new ITS ecosystem this project creates will generate tens of thousands of European jobs, many of which will be offered by SMEs,' adds Mr Renckens, who points out that their flexibility, drive and ability to innovate makes SMEs stand out as the perfect candidates for ITS development.