Twelve European cities from ten countries join the third edition of the competition Rapid Applications for Transport (RAPTOR) programme by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. RAPTOR is an agile, challenge-based programme that swiftly creates and tests solutions to answer niche urban mobility challenges identified by the cities. The competition sees start-ups and SMEs propose promising innovative and impactful solutions to answer these challenges. Winners are awarded funding (35 000 euros) and customised mentoring to develop and pilot their solution across the five-month project period in the city.
Each of the cities identified a unique challenge they face, ranging from freight pollution, access to electric vehicle charging and cycling safety. The participating cities for the 2023 edition are: Akureyri (Iceland), Ankara (Türkiye), Ajka (Hungary), Barcelona Metropolitan Area (Spain), Capital Region of Denmark (Denmark), Debrecen (Hungary), Dubnicka nad Váhom (Slovakia), The Hague (Netherlands), Helsingborg (Sweden), Mechelen (Belgium), Munich (Germany), Stuttgart Region (Germany).
Gareth Macnaughton, Director of Innovation, EIT Urban Mobility: “RAPTOR uses agile, innovative solutions to solve concrete urban mobility challenges in European cities. The programme promotes innovative European start-ups and SMEs to partner with Cities to find and test solutions to their challenges. RAPTOR brings innovation to a local level freeing cities up from their dependence on big consulting or technology multinationals companies. EIT Urban Mobility welcomes these twelve new cities in their active role as driving force and enablers of faster mobility innovation.”
EIT Urban Mobility and cities are launching the open competition next week, for European start-ups and SMEs to propose solutions that address these challenges. The niche mobility challenges for each of these cities will be explained and detailed during the call information day happening on 15 March 2023, to support the SMEs and Start-ups in getting ready for the competition.
- Akureyri – How can intermodality between public transport and micro-mobility solutions be optimised?
Iceland’s current government has committed to cut emissions by 55% by 2030 (according to ESR 2005 numbers) and to become carbon-neutral by 2040. Today, the transport sector is a significant source of emissions, in 2021, it accounted for 31% of all emissions. The town of Akureyri is by far the largest urban area outside the capital area with just under 20.000 residents (about 8% of the population). In Akureyri, public transport is available via a free-of-charge bus system. However, most residents prefer to travel by private car and average ownership is more than 8 private vehicles for every 10 residents. Apart from the free public transportation, the town launched an app and a website which show the time it takes to walk or cycle from one location to another. Although it clearly reveals that cycling across town only takes about 15 minutes, the introduction of these measures has not yet proven fruitful.
- Ankara – How to increase efficiency in e-bike field operations?
In the city of Ankara, Türkiye, the existing electric bike sharing system includes more than 500 bikes, 40 charging stations, management, and end-user mobile applications. Bicycle charging stations are located at the metro exits. The implemented free-floating e-bike sharing scheme provides the availability of bikes at various stations within the system. Compared to the station-based scheme, it represents the more flexible model by enabling users to pick up and drop off e-bikes at any desired station with available bikes or parking spaces. However, the system lacks a decision-support feature, making it incapable of automatically optimising field operations. Field operations consist of collecting, balancing, replacing batteries, on-site maintenance, returning to workshop etc. and these are done by carrying vehicles. Since such operations create the highest costs to the budget the route optimisation of the vehicles is important and required for an efficient and smart management. Therefore, the goal is to establish an optimisation system for the e-bikes field operations through an integrated software that includes parameters derived from the existing system such as location, charge status, availability of e-bikes.
- Ajka – How can we optimize public transport routes using the possibility of a new bridge?
The city in Hungary, historically 6 villages that were merged, is today a central hub for work, health, and educational services. Today, more than 14 000 citizens commute to Ajka city centre every day. Over the last 10 years the number of cars in the city has increased by 24%. For this reason, Ajka has decided to re-organize and optimise the public transportation system to address the local and regional mobility issues that arise from high congestion rates and insufficient public transportation routes. The study of the possibility of the construction of a new bridge in the city is at the heart of this challenge as it will restructure the public transportation network and improve mobility flows in the city.
- Barcelona Metropolitan Area – How might we leverage data collected in loading/unloading zones to improve city logistics policies in the metropolitan area?
AMB Barcelona is facing several challenges in getting the most value from the data collected by their own app (SPRO) to monitor loading/unloading zones. One of the major problems is the complexity and volume of the data collected. Another problem is the need to ensure the privacy and security of the data collected. This is particularly important when the data contains sensitive information such as personal information or business-critical data. Furthermore, AMB Barcelona needs to prioritise investments in the right technology and infrastructure to support the use of data collected through the app. This includes data storage and processing capabilities, as well as tools for data visualisation and analysis.
- Capital Region of Denmark – How can overpriced EV charging be avoided and price transparency be ensured for users?
Denmark has a goal to electrify more than a million vehicles by 2030. For that, electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and its accessibility and transparency is key for the EV driver to make the right decision. When using a private electric vehicle, charging can happen at home, at work or at public charging stations. The public and on-street charging infrastructure in Denmark is well developed and is frequently located throughout the Capital Region of Denmark in parking lots, along streets and at various other locations. The price of EV charging in the Capital Region of Denmark is regulated by charging operators themselves, rather than by the government. There are several different charging operators and providers in the Capital Region of Denmark and each has its own pricing policy. The consequence of this is that the price of charging an electric vehicle in the Capital Region of Denmark can vary a lot, depending on factors such as the time of day, the amount of energy used and the type of charging station, operator and roaming policies. There is currently no solution that provides a holistic, real-time overview of the price of charging of all different EV charging operators, and this often results in EV drivers paying too much.
- Debrecen – How to connect citizens from low density areas to the public transport network through active mobility?
Debrecen, Hungary is quickly expanding which means even more pressure on urban travel and road congestion which makes everyone’s lives more difficult and frustrating. As excessive car usage and road congestion are key challenges for Debrecen, any useful and effective incentives are welcome, especially if they have worked well in other cities already. The city needs to support the citizens’ ability and options to use sustainable modes of travel instead of car rides. For these efforts relatively low cost and smart solutions come very useful.
- Dubnica nad Váhom – How to create safe bicycle parking possibilities for people from the housing estate?
Dubnica nad Váhom is a city in central part of Slovakia, with a population of around 25 000 inhabitants. It is an industrial city. Conditions of the city are rather favourable for higher rate of active mobility and the city is currently building its first bicycle infrastructure while working on a more strategic and long-term approach to increase the bicycle modal share. Therefore, the challenge is to provide a safe and accessible bicycle parking infrastructure for people living in the wider city centre.
- The Hague – How do we improve the in-city customer journey to the main Scheveningen recreational area by modes of sustainable transport on peak days?
Scheveningen beach in the Netherlands is a highly popular recreational area, especially on nice weather and event days. On these peak days, large amounts of visitors can be a challenge (think of crowded public transportation and long traffic jams). On peak days, it is noticeable that most out-of-city visitors skip sustainable modes of transportation and last-mile solutions. The beach area has many different sustainable models of transport, like cycling highways, free bike parking, but it can also accommodate car drivers by having garages close to popular spots.
- Helsingborg – How can the city of Helsingborg establish a bicycle culture?
Despite substantial investments in infrastructure, the climate crisis and high fuel costs, the people of Helsingborg in Sweden are travelling by bicycle to a lesser extent than people in same-sized cities. The focus of this challenge is to understand the behaviours of citizens and be able to develop a “bicycle culture” in Helsingborg, including ways to define and measure it.
- Mechelen – How to measure the CO2 emissions and its possible reduction for freight transport?
The city of Mechelen in Belgium has signed a covenant with 33 logistics service providers and interest organisations to realise zero emission city logistics by 2030. Yet currently there is no collection or analysis on data levels of the goal of zero emission city logistics, so the transition isn’t being monitored. Therefore, the city is looking for a solution to be able to start with this monitoring, define a baseline and follow the evolution in CO2 emissions.
- Munich – How can individual mobility patterns in a city like Munich be identified based on a data model?
The city of Munich with 1,5 million inhabitants is facing environmental and traffic challenges due to growing numbers of inhabitants and of private vehicles causing an increase in CO2 emissions. Approximately 400.000 commuters from surrounding areas come to Munich daily. The only data available that is collected from devices installed in public transport is the count of passengers getting on and off the subway/bus/tramway at the stations. There is no evaluation of other means of transport. Only 15-60% of all public transport vehicles are equipped with counting devices. Mobile providers can show streams of movement almost in real-time, but do not record short distances (under 1 km) and are not able to differentiate the means of transport. Whereas app-based solutions very often have the problem that there are not enough users and in addition to that, those users are not representative of the residential population and the tourists.
- Stuttgart Region – How can we change the arrival and departure culture to big events, what can be done to diversify transportation options, and relieve congestion on such events? The Stuttgart Region with its 179 municipalities is an innovative business location and one of Germany’s top-ranking locations for labour, competitiveness, dynamism and quality of life. Stuttgart Region hosts many events throughout the year. Large events can have a significant environmental impact, especially if transportation options are not sustainable. By diversifying transportation options and promoting sustainable modes of transportation, we can reduce the environmental impact of large events.