Key Danish role in major European innovation alliance

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DTU is one of the main architects behind a new large European network aimed at developing the cities and transport solutions of tomorrow.

With funding from an EU grant running into several billion Danish kroner, an innovation network—perhaps the largest in the world—for future transport challenges will soon see the light of day.

A consortium of 48 European core partners—including DTU, City of Copenhagen, and the Danish energy company E.ON—has been given the assignment of gathering and coordinating European initiatives aimed at creating the sustainable transport solutions and urban communities of tomorrow. The network’s Northern European activities are to be managed from Copenhagen.

Three to four years ago, DTU took the initiative to gather the international consortium to which the EU’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has now awarded the partnership, which has officially been named ‘EIT Urban Mobility’.

There was fierce competition between several consortia to win the competitive tender. But the winning consortium was the strongest tenderer—not least because of the 48 strong core partners which include leading European universities, a number of large European cities, and super heavyweight industrial groups. The partners include—for example—Siemens, BMW, and Oracle, as well as a large number of other players with special competencies necessary to develop the urban communities of tomorrow.

"As a core partner in the new EIT Urban Mobility, we ensure that Denmark is at the forefront of this development."
Marianne Thellersen

EIT Urban Mobility will have a total economic volume of EUR 1,6 billion (DKK 12 billion) with EIT being expected to fund EUR 470 million (DKK 3.5 billion) over the next 15 years.

According to Marianne Thellersen, Senior Vice President—Innovation and Entrepreneurship at DTU, it will make itself felt that Denmark has played a key role in the creation of the new network:

“Participation in the EIT alliance is extremely important for both Denmark and DTU. Especially because it further strengthens our international collaborations with the leading technology companies of Europe and the world. The transport sector is rapidly developing into a key technological area comprising many engineering disciplines. As a core partner in the new EIT Urban Mobility, we ensure that Denmark is at the forefront of this development when it comes to research, innovation, and education,” says Marianne Thellersen.

The task of the partnership is to boost the initiative to create urban communities which can meet the growing need for collective and individual transport of people and goods, while also meeting the requirements of the populations for modern cities offering liveable urban spaces with a high quality of life.

The network is now to be organized as a legally independent organization. It is divided into five regional so-called ‘Innovation Hubs’ responsible for coordination of the activities. Copenhagen will house the Northern European hub, which—among other initiatives—will focus on the development of intelligent transport systems and sustainable transport.

Henrik Morgen, Senior Executive Officer, Office for Research and Relations, is part of EIT Urban Mobility’s European management and has been appointed Acting Director of the North European hub.

The alliance will be headquartered in Barcelona, from where the southern region of the network will also be managed. In addition to Copenhagen, the other regions of the network will have their offices in Germany (Munich), the Netherlands (Helmond), and the Czech Republic (Prague).

DTU researchers’ contribution to EIT Urban Mobility

The reason why DTU could play a key role in the successful bid for the network is the University’s leading position in a number of the fields of research which will be essential to the development of the transport solutions and urban communities of tomorrow.

Including—for example—the development of smart grids, which couple sustainable—but still unstable—electricity supply from wind turbines with the existing electricity supply, green onshore and offshore transport systems, drones, logistic solutions for transport of persons and goods, etc.