Although the existing framework as described above provides several possibilities for funding innovative mobility solutions and for knowledge sharing, there seems to be room for improvement to match them even better to the needs of the cities and functional urban regions.
The following bottlenecks can be identified:
1. Lack of knowledge at local governments about existing funds and their objectives
For employees working for cities, especially the cities that are not involved in European projects regularly, it’s not always clear what the existing framework is and which fund is suitable for their specific project. The difficulty arises inter alia from the number and complexity of the existing instruments.
2. Most funds focus on bigger projects, many local authorities want to pilot smaller projects first
Most of the funds focus on bigger projects, worth multiple millions of Euro’s. For example: the indicative EU contribution per project in the Urban Innovative Action is € 5 million. This is challenging for many cities and regions, because:
- Most innovative projects need less funding than multiple millions, but cannot be implemented without external funding.
- Cities frequently lack funding to co-finance large projects.
- Some of the smaller cities lack the capacity and the knowledge to manage such an extensive project.
- There is the need for subsidy in phases: first start off with a relatively small pilot and if that is successful: more money for a scaleup.
Occasionally, the ERDF allows smaller projects, but is not always open for (innovative) mobility projects. This is a matter of regional priorities of the ERDF funds.
3. Heavy administrative burden and low success rateCities perceive a heavy administrative burden to apply for a subsidy and the success rate is often quite low. That is discouraging for some cities. An extra administrative burden is for voluntary co-operating municipalities in poly-centric regions, not being a formal regional authority. Most funds require a consortium with several international partners. That is difficult and time-demanding to arrange. UIA doesn’t ask for those partnerships, but out of the 93 applications, only five projects were granted funding. Therefore, a lot of cities won’t apply at all. Although the failed UIA actions are in principle still eligible for “regular” ERDF support, we notice that not all ERDF-funds are able or willing to fund these kind of projects. In the exploration phase of this action, we want to get more clear what the perceived bottlenecks are.
4. Innovation demands new business and governance models and cooperation between many actors. The current framework does not always match this new approach.We see that mobility solutions are more and more a responsibility of several private and public partners, rather than just the local government. It is a shared task and a shared interest and risk for all interested parties involved:
- the cities and regions (interest: getting better results for less resources);
- the businesses (interest: development of new, successful business);
- the state / federal government (interest: supporting activities connected to achieving national or international goals, and promoting businesses with new innovative ideas of global potential);
- the bigger employers (interest: making sure their employees, students, customers can access their company).
This means that the framework must be flexible enough to deal not only with technical innovations, but also take new business and governance models and partnerships into account. That could lead to local authorities investing in providers of new mobility services that can help them solving their specific problems.
5. It is difficult to scale up a successful pilot and the dissemination of knowledge about successful and failed pilots can be improved.Pilots can provide us with a lot of useful information and insights, whether the pilot was successful or not, but we don’t always learn from the lessons learned. When a pilot is successful, you might want to scale it up in the same city or apply in other cities with other characteristics to see if the innovation also works there. That could help improving the innovation. Documenting the knowledge at an accessible location could help other cities to identify what measures are most promising for their specific conditions. When a pilot is not successful, it could be even more valuable to learn from, although it is difficult to admit failures. The problem with upscaling is that the initial pilot is innovative, but the upscaling is not eligible for funding anymore because it is not a completely innovative project anymore. A staggered subsidy could be a solution. Or maybe a funding percentage that is depending on the degree of risks and innovative character of the project. We want to sharpen this problem in the exploration phase of this action.
- Create an overview of the prevailing funds and their objectives and create a flow chart to help cities and regions to pick the right fund for their project.
- Write recommendations to optimise existing funding schemes to make it easier for cities and regions to apply for and get funding for smaller innovative projects, e.g. for UIA.
- Write recommendations to make the upscaling of successful pilots in the same city and in other cities easier in order to elaborate those innovations, e.g. by a staggered form of funding, or a subsidy to consolidate initiatives in a slightly altered manner, so there are still lessons learned. This could give EC funding more of a red thread.
- Create a more innovative approach on funding aspects, considering the fact that mobility solutions are the responsibility of a consortium of partners (such as Public Private Partnerships) and new business models are created.
- Write recommendations to improve the dissemination of knowledge about successful and unsuccessful pilots.
- Support private sector driven innovation and establish mechanisms to harvest the successes.
Phase 1: exploration
The first phase is the further exploration of the bottlenecks that authorities and innovative businesses experience. The main bottlenecks are described in the action fiche, but we need a more detailed insight in the general bottlenecks and specific bottlenecks per funding scheme, and collect ideas for improvements. We want to do this in three ways:
A questionnaire that will be distributed among the PUM partners with the request to fill it in and to distribute within to their own networks. Because multiple actions have proposed a questionnaire, it could be wise to combine some of them in order to reduce the amount of questionnaires.
- In-depth interviews with a maximum of ten specialists of European subsidies from regions and cities and the Commission.
- This might be supplemented by desk analysis.
- Although the response rate of questionnaires is usually low, we still want to use one to explore the bottlenecks and possible solutions with European stakeholders. The in-depth interviews will provide us with a more specific insight in the bottlenecks and possible solutions.
Phase 2: elaborate draft recommendations
We want to create a taskforce to elaborate the recommendations. This taskforce will consist of members of the PUM. If needed, they will consult external parties like mobility innovators.
Phase 3: consultation
We will consult a broader group of experts and other stakeholders, so they can react to the draft recommendations.
Phase 4: finalise the recommendations
The recommendations will be finalised with the input from phase 3, and this will be the starting point for the implementation of the recommendations.
- Introduction to the Draft Action Plan of the Partnership on Urban Mobility
- Draft Action 1
- Draft Action 2
- Draft Action 3
- Draft Action 4
- Draft Action 6
- Draft Action 7
- Draft Action 8
- Draft Action 9
- Background document
- Urban Mobility full Draft Action Plan
- About the Public Feedback