Transport has become a high-technology industry in Europe. This is to some extent due to the fact that the most recent research results have been transferred into practice. Both the European Commission's Framework Programmes and the national research programmes across the European Research Area are providers of transport research results. It is crucial to ensure that expertise and findings are made widely available, and the results are compared and coordinated in an appropriate way. In the new context of an enlarged Europe the instruments initially proposed in the Commission transport strategy (the 2001 White Paper) were reviewed and adapted. This has implicated changes in certain policy areas with the aim to provide solutions more conformable with national, regional or local inputs while nevertheless ensuring a Europe-wide transport market.
The 'Empowering transport research with the special focus on the new accession states and the candidate countries' (ETRA.CC) project was targeted to support European integration process in transport research under the special focus on Eastern European enlargement. The project therefore addressed the transition process, which encompassed a change from planning steered systems by the state to a market driven approach taking in account the specific characteristics of the research infrastructure in transport sector.
The main project objectives could be summarised as follows:
- to promote dissemination of past and present programs results over the standard exploitation activities of individual projects,
- to contribute to strategic objectives 1 and 2 of the call for research, technological development and integration in the frame of several research domains,
- to promote participation of new accession states and the candidate countries,
- to stimulate international cooperation,
- to prepare outputs for future community RTD activities and in the sense of the European Research Area.
ETRA.CC was based on existing networks of the partners INTRANSNET, the network of medium and large transport research facilities in Europe and the Portal thematic network. ETRA.CC also used materials from other projects centred on the transport research collected in TRKC (Transport Research Knowledge Centre, now known as TRIP, Transport Research and Innovation Portal - www.transport-research.info). The action plan delivered by project defined steps to achieve a network-oriented innovation system developing and diversifying R&D collaboration. Workshops and events would exploit TRKC, Portal and INTRANSNET contacts to actively promoting the content.
Between October 2005 and September 2007 various support actions were planned, organised and carried out, with the aim to promote dissemination of previous and current European transport research results in new member states and associate countries and to support participation of these countries in EC’s Frameworks program projects. ETRA.CC project activities focused on stimulation of international cooperation and analysis to support European Research Area by recommendations for further development. The ETRA.CC work plan has followed the classical project approach: investigation, planning, implementation and conclusion by evaluation. Because of the support action type of the project, main focus has been aimed at outbound activities.
As a result of ETRA.CC, the European transport research community is provided with a multi-lingual online internet based networking platform for all types of transport research, which can be accessed at www.etra.cc. By collecting and structuring operational knowledge, the website supports on one hand the stimulation and strengthening of cooperation and networking activities among researchers, research facility owners and users, facility operators, and educational organisations by and on the other hand motivates stakeholders to intense dissemination and networking processes.
Project outputs Evaluation of the project work and results has shown that the set goals were achieved. The project has met its objectives and provided main outputs as follows:
- A comprehensive multi-lingual web-based system has been set up, providing access to both detailed and user-oriented information on transport research facilities, research programmes and results across Europe.
- ETRA.CC has provided relevant information about facilities, technical equipment, parameters, and human resources on the base of the INTRANSNET network database www.intransnet.org
- ETRA.CC has offered operators of transport research infrastructure the possibility to go public with their facilities, to find new customers and to market free capacity with the aim to increase their own business and market position.
- The project has provided an electronic hub for inter-connecting European researchers and facility operators concerned with transport research into a clearly structured European network.
- ETRA.CC has provided high-quality analytical outputs on the current situation in the new European member states and associate countries.
- We recommended countries to set up policies in support demand of stakeholders.
- The project has raised awareness of the new services in those countries via project workshops and other dissemination activities.
- It has contributed in a way that researchers and institutions increase their effort on co-operation in their own countries as well as across Europe.