EIT Urban Mobility Virtual Summit 2020: Post-COVID city challenges

The challenges posed to cities as a result of the COVID-19 crisis will be the central axis of the EIT Urban Mobility 2020 Summit, which will be held virtually from today until Friday. 

EIT Urban Mobility has supported in its first year of operations a total of 76 international projects that provide mobility solutions, with an investment of over EUR 27 million.

The Secretary of State for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda of the Spanish Government, Pedro Saura, the Councillor for Mobility of the Barcelona City Council, Rosa Alarcón, the Director of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), Martin Kern, and the CEO of EIT Urban Mobility, Maria Tsavachidis inaugurated the event.

Among the initiatives are: 

  • CDClean, a disinfectant to eliminate COVID-19 which is being tested in the metro and buses in Barcelona 
  • CITY RESTARTS, Europe´s first large-scale shared taxi service supplementing public transport in Milan 
  • InclusivEbike, developing and testing safe bicycles for vulnerable people to avoid risks in transport, which is being tested in Bilbao and Bergamo 

For three days, experts on urban mobility, scientists and businesses will present their proposals to make cities more liveable and will analyse how cities, industry and research and academia try to overcome the crises affecting urban mobility related to climate, health and the economy. The Secretary of State for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda of the Spanish Government, Pedro Saura, the Councillor for Mobility of the Barcelona City Council, Rosa Alarcón, the Director of the European Institute of Urban Innovation (EIT), Martin Kern, and the CEO of EIT Urban Mobility, Maria Tsavachidis, opened the event.

The conference will feature an exhibition area, multiple networking activities, as well as sessions on successful mobility strategies in times of COVID-19, digital opportunities in future mobility, and urban mobility perspectives from experts coming from all over the world. In addition, the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility promoted by the European Union to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050 will be addressed.

Visit EIT Urban Mobility Virtual Summit 2020 

EIT Urban Mobility is a European knowledge and innovation community consisting of over 150 leading companies, cities, universities and research centres. The community, supported by the EU´s European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), started in January 2019 and 2020 has been its first year of operations, during which it has financed a total of 76 international projects and supported 61 start-ups, with an investment of over EUR 27 million. Nearly EUR 5 million have been allocated to fund 11 innovation projects as part of the exceptional COVID-19 Crisis Response call to address urban mobility challenges posed by the pandemic. As part of EIT’s Crisis Response Initiative, these projects directly contribute to the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Projects related to COVID-19 

Among the projects are CDClean, a disinfectant to eliminate COVID-19 which is currently being tested in the Barcelona metro and bus network. This is an initiative promoted by Ferrovial, global operator of sustainable infrastructure, and could be applied in airports, bus, metro and railway stations throughout Europe as of January 2021.

Another notable project is InclusivEBike, through which safe electric bicycles are being developed and tested for vulnerable people to avoid risks related to COVID-19 in public transport. The bikes are being tested in Bilbao (Spain) and Bergamo (Italy). 

In Milan, Europe´s first large-scale shared taxi service to supplement the city´s public transport and address the impacts of COVID-19 is being rolled out through CITY RESTARTS.  This initiative strives to increase access to safe and affordable public transportation, provide additional income for taxi drivers, mitigate the increased usage of single occupancy private vehicles, and thus reduce the overall environmental impact of the mobility system.  

Among the initiatives related to COVID-19 is also FutureMob, a project led by the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB), and also implemented in Hungary, which aims to contribute to the improvement of air quality in cities through active mobility and guiding citizens in taking COVID-19-safe mobility decisions using a gamification approach. Through an online application, citizens are informed about current challenges related to health, teleworking and shopping locally, advising them at the same time about possible clean and active means of transport they can use and guiding them with taking COVID-19-safe mobility decisions. 

An opportunity to innovate

Looking ahead to next year, Maria Tsavachidis, CEO of EIT Urban Mobility is clear that It will be crucial to maintain the momentum and support cities in their transition towards green and affordable mobility and liveable places for all, in addition to taking into account that the transition towards sustainable mobility and liveable places must be inclusive and affordable.

This has been an exceptional and financially very challenging year for many of our partners but the pandemic has accelerated the development of EIT Urban Mobility as an organisation and as a community. To recover from COVID-19, cities more than ever need support from the ecosystem around them. We have doubled the number of partners year-on year from 2019 to 2021 and we will be engaging 230 partners from 26 countries by next year. We are diversifying our city base, adding smaller and medium sized cities, such as Debrecen and Saint Germain-En-Laye, which now account for almost 40%.

Maria Tsavachidis, CEO of EIT Urban Mobility

Representatives from Greece, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Serbia and Slovenia, which have recently joined EIT Urban Mobility through the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS), will also participate at the Summit. EIT Urban Mobility’s Regional Innovation Scheme is designed to boost the ability of countries classified as modest or moderate innovators by the European Innovation Scoreboard to enhance the local innovation ecosystem to support innovation in urban mobility by sharing good practice and expertise.