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Advanced Impacts Evaluation Methodology for Innovative Freight Transport Solutions

State of the Art - Background

Freight transport is a key element for the economy, raising various environmental, social, security or safety issues that are severely increasing in number. High investments in freight transport RTD are made but many RTD projects have never passed the commercialisation threshold.

Innovation is key. The success of innovation, however, is not only a question of techniques or technologies. Many non-technological (social, economic, legislative, etc.) factors have a strong influence and a range of research initiatives has integrated socio-economic issues in their approaches. Existing methodologies may require modifications to be accessible to non-expert evaluators (e.g. transport decision-makers, policy-makers).

Seven assessment types can be distinguished: technical, economic, socio-economic, financial, market, user acceptance and impact assessment. In the economic, socio-economic and financial assessments, the cost-benefit analysis plays an important role. The consideration of the time criteria is generally restricted to a comparison between zero state and the future and does not take into account the past. Classic analysis methods, like cost-benefit analysis, are sometime unable to assess the relevance (or non-relevance) of a concept or a product.


AIMS will develop a methodology to assess and evaluate projects supported by the Fifth and Sixth Framework Programmes (FP5 and FP6) in all fields of freight transport.

Based on the results and findings obtained from the evaluation and assessment of past FP5 and FP6 projects, recommendations will be developed with concerned transport and research actors to maximise the RTD benefits.

This Support Action requires an approach that can handle the complexity and transversal aspects of innovation in the freight transport system. In order to identify the framework conditions for freight transport innovations in not only a broader but also a technical sense, AIMS is based on the combination of a systemic approach and a socio-economic approach: the TST (Techniques, Society and Territories) approach.

AIMS will identify critical factors of RTD projects through analysing the success and failure of previous FP5 and FP6 projects. Based on results coming from the analysis of the past, present and future, AIMS will assess the positive or negative impacts of European research and projects, particularly in the economic, social and environmental fields. Guidelines for current and future FP projects will then be produced with the aim of minimising the risks of research, and providing recommendations for the definition of new research policy objectives.

Description of Work

The work plan of the project is divided into six work packages (WP).

WP1 is concerned with the overall project management, administrative and financial issues.

WP2 is dedicated to the analysis of past research projects in the field of freight transport for each mode of transport (road, rail, air, maritime, inland waterways and intermodal).

Within WP3, the current status of the research projects in FP7 will be analysed.

WP4 is covering the future related and available visions for research activities.

WP5 is concerned with producing conclusions and recommendations.

All dissemination activities, including the organisation of workshops and conferences, setting up the website and preparing the final publication is being done in WP6.

A selection of projects to be analysed will be made using specific criteria and in accordance with EC objectives. The data collection and analyses consist of desktop research, interviews and e-mail surveys. Different stakeholders will be interviewed to generate qualitative input for the research activities. Dedicated experts in each transport type will be constantly involved to review the project progress and results of the different work steps. The organisation of workshops with experts and different stakeholders is to contribute to an exchange of experience and knowledge in the field of European freight transport research.

Expected Results

AIMS will produce an innovative evaluation methodology to assess research projects in freight transport at European level. The methodology should help FP managers to set up RTD projects and programmes and improve the capacity to manage innovation in freight transport. Research actors will be better enabled to set up and implement RTD projects.

Furthermore AIMS will:

- elaborate guidelines for the success of RTD projects in the field of freight transport;

- contribute to the definition of new research policy objectives in the field of freight transport.

The results should contribute towards creating better chances for success of research activities and lead towards future, innovative research foci. AIMS will contribute to generating new knowledge on transport RTD and relevant social, environmental and economic issues, establish a better dialogue between policy, industry and research, ensure consistency between their approaches, and strengthen their competitiveness and innovation efforts toward a sustainable transport system.

View of the simplified TST approach
View of the simplified TST approach