In line with the European Research Area (ERA), there are two key pillars of the Lisbon Strategy that foster structured optimised and integrated R&D efforts in the area of European road research. These are the two European technology platforms:
- European Road Transport Research Advisory Council (ERTRAC), which gathers all relevant stakeholders of the road transport sector, and
- European Construction Technology Platform (ECTP), which includes specific elements on transport and road infrastructure issues.
Partners from the new Member States, and even more so from the other Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), have contributed very little to these activities. The main reasons were lack of experience in European co-operative research, financial constraints (difficulties in obtaining national contributions) and poor comprehension of English by the users of the results, which prevented the main results of the European research projects being properly implemented.
This has been happening despite road transport being the primary means of mobility for all European people and goods, including the new Member States and the CEEC. It is crucial for the economic and social development of the entire continent that the road network is in good condition throughout Europe. CERTAIN will assist in overcoming these difficulties and pave the way for more efficient incorporation of the new Member States and CEEC partners into the European research activities.
The main objectives of the CERTAIN Coordination Action were:
- to provide a platform for coordinated work and efficient dissemination of results of the two STREP proposals on road infrastructure, dedicated to the new Member States: SPENS (Sustainable Pavements for new Member States) on pavements and ARCHES (Assessment and Rehabilitation of Central European Highway Structures) on highway structures;
- to establish and reinforce links with stakeholder in the new Member States and CEEC by organising dedicated workshops and providing the key project deliverables in national languages;
- to set the route for more efficient incorporation of new Member States and Central and Eastern European countries partners in future European research by organising training courses for the research project managers from these countries.
The following tools were applied to achieve these objectives:
1. Formation of the CERTAIN cluster in order to:
- establish and maintain efficient links between the new Member States' projects and other relevant projects from the area of road infrastructure (Heavyroute, INTRO, NR2C, SILENCE, FORMAT, SAMARIS), and
- register the end-users from the new Member States and CEEC, and organise their activities.
2. One of the major reasons that the results of European research have limited effect in the new Member States and CEEC countries is the limited proficiency in English at the level of the end-users. This was addressed through:
- development of a multi-lingual web-based platform, to provide links with the end-users, and the means for consistent and efficient promotion of the results;
- organisation of regional workshops in national languages. The participation of end-users from the new Member States and CEEC at international conferences was far too low to allow for the efficient dissemination of European research results;
- translation of the key projects' documents (executive summary reports) brought the results closer to the end users and will facilitate their faster transition into practice.
3. Organisation of project management training recruited potential coordinators for major European research projects. Obtaining qualified people from the new Member States and CEEC for these positions in the area of road infrastructure was a serious challenge.
The CERTAIN deliverables are as follows:
- Project brochure, website and posters.
- Multi-lingual web platform for the clustered projects, in order to bring their results closer to the endusers.
- Establishment and maintenance of the database of end-users from the new Member States and CEEC, in order to collect and maintain information about experts from these countries in the area of road infrastructure.
- Organisation of five national workshops in the languages of the organising countries.
- Organisation of training programmes for managers of the research projects, to qualify people for the management of the future European research projects.
- Translation of the key reports (executive summaries) of the clustered New Member States projects in up to five different languages of the new Member States and CEEC to be easily understood by the broadest end-users’ society.
- Joint dissemination materials for clustered projects to facilitate spreading the results of the clustered projects at diff erent conferences and workshops.
- Presentation of cluster activities at the main European transport research events, such as the European Research Arenas in Gothenburg in 2006 and Ljubljana in 2008.
The synergistic clustering action led by Forum of European Highway Research Laboratories (FEHRL) actively sought to integrate and shape current and emerging practices with other national and international projects using the extensive network of FEHRL institutes and relevant partner organisations.
By definition of this Coordination Action, special focus was paid to the needs of the New Member States and other non-EU European countries. This was achieved through close links with other projects and by integration into the current FEHRL Strategic Road Research Programme (SERRP) Cluster.
One of the main goals of CERTAIN project was to connect research sector with the industry and end-users. Considering research sector, CERTAIN project mainly focused on NMS and CEEC countries.
Until the beginning of CERTAIN project, partners from some NMS countries took part in EU-funded projects on road infrastructure research, but without major responsibilities. CERTAIN organised training courses for leaders of European research projects, so that partners from non EU-15 countries could play a much more active role in future European research activities. These courses were very successful and CERTAIN educated nearly 50 potential future project managers, 50% of whom came from NMS or CEEC countries. CERTAIN prepared a consistent multi-lingual internet platform for the projects and managed the common end-users group (road administrations, designers, construction companies, industry etc.). This now provides an effective link between road research activities (on European level and wider) and implementation at local level.
Since language can be a major obstacle for the efficient dissemination of European research results in the NMS and CEEC, CERTAIN organised numerous workshops in mother languages to attract a higher number of interested end-users and people from the industry that usually do not attend international conferences. For the same reason, some of the key documents of the SPENS and ARCHES projects were translated into the mother languages of different NMS (CEEC) countries.