The project was funded by the European Commission through the 7th Framework Programme. Along with four other research projects it formed part of a broader initiative in the Transport Research Programme for developing specific impact assessment methodologies for EC-funded projects.
The main objectives of the SITPRO PLUS project were to use the results and findings from FP5 and FP6 projects in the transport programme to contribute to:
- the definition of new research policy objectives and;
- intermediate performance targets for FP7.
Regarding the first objective, in the context of European transport research, policy objectives were determined by several factors: the specific objectives of the Common Transport Policy (CTP), the broader objectives of other Community policies and the development of the European Research Area (ERA). On the basis of those objectives a research agenda was drawn up which in turn determined the content of the transport research programme and the specific research projects. To achieve the second project objective, i.e. to set out performance targets for FP7, SITPRO PLUS developed methodology to assess and evaluate transport research projects supported in FP5 and FP6 based on an objectives led approach.
The SITPRO PLUS project analysed the impacts of transport projects funded by the European Commission within the 5th and 6th Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. Its aim was to use these findings to define new transport research policy objectives and to provide the European Commission with a methodology for impact assessment in the ongoing and future Framework Programmes.
The main findings of the SITPRO PLUS project are:
- Applied research targeting industrial applications, often in collaboration with universities, is the standard and mainstream type of research within the transport field unlike in other research areas.
- There is a gap between the stated and actual use of transport research results by relevant stakeholders or users. Between 30 and 60 percent of research goes unexploited. Exploitation in this context means “documented use” as through reference or acknowledgement in documents. The degree of lack of exploitation is higher if the actual implementation of research results is considered instead. The fall-out rate of the use of transport research is high, not only among policy institutions (such as the EU institutions or national public administrations) but also within the industry: a surprising finding considering that the industry is the main beneficiary of transport research contracts.
- Transport research continues to produce two main types of outputs: academic outputs such as publications and methods on the one hand and transport modelling tools and components, on the other. Neither technologies nor policy relevant outputs are as important, contrary to the rhetoric of some Framework Programme documents on the subject.
- The policy impact of transport research is often more by name than real. Six out of ten projects consider their results policy-relevant and four out of ten projects think that their research contributes to policy harmonization. However the policy relevance dwindles when specific transport policy objectives such as rail harmonization, road policy or the TEN-T are considered. The gap, which cannot be explained away by the thematic variation of the projects, is the combined result of two factors, namely, the comparatively low specific knowledge of transport policy issues among some project coordinators in conjunction with the transport modelling paradigm still dominant among those in charge of designing the European transport research programme.
- All transport projects are, as expected, actively involved in disseminating their results through the standard means of publications, workshops, conferences, websites and project reports. The latter are, however, considered the least efficient means for disseminating project results.
- Projects which are large in terms of partnership (often also involving users and stakeholders in their consortia) and diffused in terms of contents (i.e. having
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