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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article16 June 2023

Innovation capacity in the European transport sector

A report has been published on TRIMIS by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in May that provides the latest assessment of innovation capacity in the EU transport sector. TRIMIS provides periodical assessments of transport innovation capacity through macro-level indicator analysis at EU level.

The report analyses research and innovation (R&I) indicators and presents an updated review of overall transport innovation capacity, including private and public investment in R&I, the number of transport researchers and R&I personnel, patents and capacity bottlenecks. It offers a general view on the transport sector innovation engagement, supporting the reflection on main sector’s trends and possible research and policy measure to support its enhancement.

In May 2017, the European Commission adopted the Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda (STRIA) as part of the ‘Europe on the Move’ package, which highlights key transport R&I areas and priorities for clean, connected and competitive mobility. The role played by R&I is central to achieving a more sustainable transport system as part of the European Green Deal, which aims to reduce emissions by 90% by 2050.

Some of the main conclusions identified by the analysis include:

  • The private sector maintains its key role in R&I activities in the transport sector, which in 2019 amounted to €38 billion. Total EU public investment was substantially lower, at €2.4 billion in 2020, a 25% fall from 2010.
  • In 2019, 250,000 researchers and R&I personnel worked in the transport sector, or 1.8% of total people employed, with males resenting 87.4%.
  • The total number of EU patents granted to the transport sector between 2010 and 2020 was approximately 71,400.
  • The type of innovation introduced by transport companies was mainly associated with process and product innovations. A main barrier suggested to increasing R&I activities was insufficient financial support at local, national and EU level.
  • A lack of market cooperation among transport stakeholders, uncertain market trends and a lack of qualified and skilled personnel are also considered major barriers. With 2023 being European Year of Skills, this is more relevant than ever. See here for more information.

The conclusions of the report suggest a general negative trend in the innovation capacity of the transport sector in the EU, compared to the previous years.

To read the full report, click here.



Publication date
16 June 2023
Policy and research