ERTICO’s work on EU-funded research and innovation projects is instrumental in pursuing our core mission to shape the future of mobility by making it safer, more efficient and sustainable in Europe and around the world. These projects, on which we collaborate with our partners, play a big role in supporting the European Union’s priorities and strategic goals by developing and deploying cutting-edge technologies, business models and policy recommendations for smart mobility. Where innovation is key, ERTICO’s expertise in innovation management is of immense value for achieving our projects’ ambitions, particularly within the Horizon Europe Framework.

Having extensive experience in EU-funded project management in the capacity of Project Coordinator, ERTICO’s expertise in managing and harmonising the efforts of the different consortia to achieve a common goal is invaluable. With a department dedicated to ITS Innovation and Deployment, ERTICO plays a pivotal role in ensuring the highest standards in the management of research and innovation projects aimed at the realisation of ITS in a safe, sustainable and efficient way, bringing positive change to the mobility ecosystem.

Because these projects aim to deliver a new or improved service or implement a new method or product, a common and consistent approach to managing the project outcomes needs to be adopted. Innovation management is therefore a crucial aspect in the overall execution of EU-funded projects. The term refers to the approach and strategies employed to harness new products or services throughout the project lifecycle and beyond, which is in line with the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Strategy. (For more details, see for instance the OECD’s Oslo Manual 2018.)

Managing innovation in EU-funded projects

Innovation management can only be effective if all the partners of a project are involved, as a successful outcome of the project with exploitable results is achieved from the work of different partners in different areas. Thanks to their solid experience with EU-funded projects, ERTICO experts have developed a proven method to monitor innovation within consortia through a robust innovation management plan. The plan takes a unified approach aligned with the European Commission’s strategy on research and innovation.

To boost and monitor emerging innovations, the European Commission has developed a number of tools and strategies, such as the use of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) to assess the level of development of solutions advanced within a project (typically 2-6 for Research & Innovation Actions and 6-8 for Innovation Actions). TRLs were formally adopted by the European Commission as an innovation policy tool starting with the Horizon 2020 framework programme after adapting the original definitions established by NASA.

Exploitation of the potential products or outputs after a project has ended is an integral part of the project’s scope, making it another key element of innovation management. Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) also need to be managed if applicable, for instance if the work within a project results in the creation of patents. Innovation management is not an isolated task within a project; it needs to be taken into account at every stage of the project development and implementation through the establishment of effective strategies and frameworks to ensure innovation remains a driving force. To help projects in this process, the European Commission has developed the Innovation Radar, which helps categorise new products based on market maturity and disruptive potential.

ERTICO as innovation manager establishes a consistent and efficient plan for innovation that involves all Work Packages throughout the project’s duration.

Innovation management in eBRT2030 and NextETRUCK

eBRT2030 and NextETRUCK, which aim to decarbonise buses and trucks respectively by proposing cutting-edge electric alternatives, are two recent projects under the Clean & Eco Mobility focus area that will benefit from ERTICO’s expertise as Innovation Manager. eBRT2030 will help improve the sustainability of urban public transport by proposing a new generation of advanced full electric Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) with new automation and connectivity functionalities, while NextETRUCK will provide zero-emission electric medium freight haulage, making vehicle fleets greener.

In eBRT2030, ERTICO is responsible for the Innovation Management Plan and Process and for managing and monitoring the innovation as well as the KPIs. The project’s work is based on several existing innovations for electric BRTs that will be further advanced to reach a higher TRL at the end of the project. The complete eBRT system developed as part of the project will integrate technological innovations related to the vehicle, the charging infrastructure, and automation, management and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity systems.

ERTICO also leads NextETRUCK’s innovation management, establishing a process to manage and monitor the development of the project’s five main innovations: ultra-fast charging; optimised Total Cost of Ownership (TCO); new business models and market uptake; digital twin, fleet management and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) virtual integration and e-powertrain. Together with consortium members, ERTICO will also identify and actively promote additional innovations that emerge throughout the project.