EU Funding for transport SMEs and Start-ups


The modal share of intra-EU rail freight transport has slightly declined in the past decade. The industry’s stagnation can be explained partly by the existence of legal barriers restricting competition, but also by problems of an operational and technical nature, which impact the overall capacity and performance of the sector.

The cost competitiveness and reliability of freight services need to be improved considerably if the sector is to meet the ambitious objectives set in terms of developing rail freight: almost doubling the use of rail freight compared to 2005, achieving a shift of 30% of road freight over 300 km to modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030, and of more than 50% by 2050. Rail freight must be in a position to offer a cost-effective, attractive service to shippers that helps to shift freight away from the already congested road network.

Shift2Rail address this issues in the IP 5. Especially the technical demonstrator  ‘Access & Operations’ (TD 5.2) aims to improve service planning and operation, thereby supporting better utilisation of available capacity, by optimising access and operation of local hubs (e.g. marshalling yards and sidings) which are essential but cost-intensive subsystems for rail freight business.

In the Multi-Annual Action Plan of  the Shift2Rail joint undertaking defines following concept and objectives for access and operation of the freight transport:

An improved accessibility to rail freight and the provision of highly reliable and flexible solutions is of highest importance for the competitiveness of the system, especially in market segments like the maritime and continental intermodal transport, where the truck is a very strong competitor. The objective is to get to the same level of flexibility and accessibility and to be even better concerning reliability…

Within the digitalisation scope for future rail freight, the proposed TD serves to optimise access and operations of local hubs (e.g. marshalling yards and sidings) which are essential but cost-intensive subsystems for rail freight business. Local hubs, which have collecting and distributing function in the rail freight system along the European corridors, are key elements for delivering last mile operation and have a decisive impact on punctuality, availability and cost efficiency of rail freight services…

Furthermore, the freight sector should more build on best practice from the passenger sector and from other modes, in terms of information, planningand  monitoring systems. An essential starting point is a common understanding of the transport chain and the important information flows. Stakeholder needs and restrictions have to be taken into account when defining interfaces and data structures. Besides standard interfaces, which ensure the accessibility of the systems for everybody, dedicated interfaces to existing IT-systems of the stakeholders will be developed to allow integration and full market uptake. The annual timetable planning is a very important key to an efficient capacity utilisation, stable operations and reduction of disturbances. The continuation of the planning during the year of validity for the time table is called the ad-hoc process. Today, these processes still involve much manual planning and the changes from one timetable to the next are often incremental. Improved decision support tools and analysis tools have shown to have a great potential. Now they should be based more upon real-time information.

Shift2Rail organise an Open Calls for non-members with the focus of Small-Medium sized enterprises.

fiware Accelerator programme

fi-ware Accelerator programme

Another funding project of the European Union for disruptive innovations is FI-WARE foundation. The FI-WARE Community is an independent open community whose members are committed to materialise the mission to build an open sustainable ecosystem around public, royalty-free and implementation-driven software platform standards that will ease the development of new Smart Applications in multiple sectors.

This community is not only formed by contributors to the technology but also those who contribute in building the ecosystem and making it sustainable over time. As such, individuals and organisations committing relevant resources in FI-WARE Lab activities or activities of the FI-WARE Accelerator, FI-WARE Mundus or FI-WARE iHubs programmes are also considered members of the FI-WARE community.

The FI-WARE Acceleration Programme aims at promoting the take up of FI-WARE technologies among solution integrators and application developers, with the special focus on SMEs and start-ups. Linked to this program, the EU launched an ambitious campaign in September 2014 mobilising 80M€ to support SMEs and entrepreneurs who will develop innovative applications based on FI-WARE. Similar programmes may be defined in other regions. FI-WARE has successfully supported 70 startups included 6 startups in the transportation & logistics sector in various countries.




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