The R&D financed by the Ministry may be classified as short-term projects (quick state-of-the-art studies) and medium/long-term programmes. About half of the money is spent on long term programmes. The priority areas are logistics, transport telematics, scenarios and forecasts, interaction between land use and transport, e-commerce and information society.
In addition to the programmes, there are strategic subjects/themes of research going on. The content of these themes is changing all the time when some short term projects end and new ones begin. Some of these themes have also larger projects, even programmes. The research themes include:
- Development Programmes for Public Transport
- Goods Transport and Logistics
- Transport of Dangerous Goods
- Traffic Safety
- Environment and Vehicle Technology
- Transport Infrastructure
- Transport forecasts and Transport Economics
- Research co-operation in Neighbouring Areas
The R&D of Ministry of Transport and Communications is designed to achieve the goals of intelligent and sustainable transport system. An intelligent transport system is one in which technology is widely used in different transport functions, in personal mobility solutions and transport services, administration systems and individual activities. These technologies are increasingly using real-time data. Sustainability refers to a system that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. A sustainable system requires a more effective range of measures, full awareness of the impact of different measures, and careful targeting of the impacts for the equal benefit of different transport system users, the public at large and the business community.
In the Ministry of Transport and Communications, transport research and development is a tool to aid strategic planning, used to find a socio-economic optimum for the transport and communications system, and on the other hand an investment whose return is in the form of a more efficiently functioning system, with lower transportation costs, improved traffic safety and reduced environmental problems.
Within the Ministry's administrative sector, the transport and communications development work is generally shared. Each organisation has its own differentiated and specialised roles and responsibilities which are frequently reflected in the R&D work. The Ministry initiates co-operation and actively ensures the right conditions for successful co-operation at the programme and project set-up stage and in progress of the programme and projects.
The transport research and development is following the goals of Finnish transport policy of being a transport system in which personal mobility and transport services are intelligent and sustainable and have due regard for economic, environmental, social and cultural considerations.
In the programmes, a basic operating model is that the organisations within the administrative sector supervise the R&D programmes through e.g. management groups, while the practical project management is taken care of by full and part-time project leaders.
The development projects and other investigations commissioned separately or as part of various wider themes may use different operating models. The models feature joint funding, management groups, steering groups, co-ordinators or project secretaries as applicable.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications provides an average of EUR 8-8.5 million in funding for research and development activities. In addition, about EUR 0.6 million of the annual allocation for public transport development has been used for R&D projects. The Government's departments and agencies within the ministry's purview spend around EUR 23 million on research each year. This does not include research by state-owned enterprises and companies within the ministry's purview.
The total funding required for projects in the ministry's R&D programmes includes also funding provided by the project partners. The funding provided from the project partners is greatest in programmes that seek to utilise information technology (e.g. FITS, NAVI, MONA, HEILI and VALO). As the ministry's total funding for these programmes is about EUR 10 million during the programme lifetime, the funding by other partners will amount to about EUR 52 million.
With the Ministry's funding for all the projects amounting to EUR 8-8.5 million per year, a rough estimate is that the annual funding by other partners is EUR 20 million.