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EU transport research goes to China

A delegation from the European Commission’s DG Research Transport Directorate travelled to Beijing in October 2007, with the aim of bringing Europe and China closer together on transport research. Meetings targeted Chinese government institutions, academia and industry and focussed on the identification of future collaborative projects.

Beijing Exhibition Centre
Beijing Exhibition Centre

Speaking at the he SIMBA China National Event on 9 October 2007, the Director of the European Commission’s DG RTD Transport Directorate András Siegler described the context of EU-China science and technology research co-operation, the main challenges for international co-operation in transport RTD, and the Commission’s expectations based on SIMBA outcomes.

Later, European Commission Project Officer Patrick Mercier-Handisyde presented the FP7 transport theme, with special attention to possibilities for international co-operation.

European and Chinese stakeholders from industry and academia discussed transport research needs and impacts, identifying global and Chinese mobility challenges. The main priorities for joint EU-China collaboration were identified, including traffic information and traffic management, road vehicle and infrastructure safety, and public transport.

What is SIMBA?

SIMBA is an FP6 Coordination Action aimed at fostering international co-operation on road transport research with emerging economies, including Brazil, South-Africa, India and China. The China National Event was the second to be held this year, organised by SIMBA coordinator ERTICO and the local host ITSC (Intelligent Transport Systems China). It will be followed by further events in Brazil and India later this year.

ITS World Congress

András Siegler
András Siegler

Following the SIMBA event, EC representatives moved on to the 14 th Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress, also held in Beijing, from 10-13 October 2007. This important event, including a major exhibition, is organised every year, once in Europe and then either in Asia or America, and gathers around 5000 participants from the global ITS community.

András Siegler delivered an important strategic speech on ITS in emerging economies, again focussing on new possibilities for research collaboration under FP7. At the same session, Hans-Joachim Schade, Vice-President of Business Development at Siemens AG, described business models for ITS applications based on the first SIMBA results. Exhibition stands were devoted to industrial ITS developments, mostly for urban transport and traffic management, and for automotive applications.

Another interesting session was organised by Transport for London and was aimed at establishing a forum on benchmarking of cities. The ‘BENEFIT’ initiative, as it is called, will foster the exchange of best practices between cities around the world, with a view to developing the next generation of traffic management systems.

Right time to move on EU-China collaboration

For Patrick Mercier-Handisyde, the timing of the trip was excellent. “Both EU and Chinese science and technology (S&T) strategies in surface transport seem to be in line in terms of content and political momentum,” he says. “The potential for co-operation is therefore considerable. We share a number of areas of joint interest, identified during the SIMBA National Event. China is now putting transport at the heart of its economy, supporting growth, social progress, capacity building and addressing global challenges such as climate change.”

Next steps outlined by the EC include the further expansion of opportunities for international co-operation under the Union’s Research Framework Programme (FP7), hopefully drawing increased participation by the emerging economies on topics identified at the SIMBA national events. There could be a specific call for tenders on international co-operation in 2009. A final SIMBA conference will be held in Brussels on 25 February 2008.

Also, Chinese experts are to be invited to the TRA 2008 conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in April 2008, a major event being co-organised by the EC, CEDR and the ERTRAC Technology Platform.