Benchmark of Nordic Transport
Benchmark of Transport research
Dokument nr.: 7450021
Revision nr.: 3
Udgivelsesdato. August 2005
Udarbejdet: SK and AE
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Table of content
Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 4
1. Executive summary ...................................................................................................................... 5
2. Methodology and perception of transport research...................................................................... 6
3 Transport research in the Nordic countries .................................................................................. 9
3.1 Sweden ................................................................................................................................. 9
3.2 Norway ............................................................................................................................... 13
3.3 Finland ............................................................................................................................... 16
3.4 Denmark ............................................................................................................................. 19
3.5 Iceland ................................................................................................................................ 22
4 The Research Chain ................................................................................................................... 25
4.1 Identification of research themes ....................................................................................... 25
4.2 Organisation of research .................................................................................................... 27
4.2 Funding of research ............................................................................................................ 28
4.4 The research process and the institutions ........................................................................... 30
4.5 Dissemination of research .................................................................................................. 31
4.6 Evaluation of the research process and results................................................................... 32
5 Identification of benchmark parameters .................................................................................... 34
5.1 Identification of research themes ....................................................................................... 34
5.2 Organisation of research .................................................................................................... 34
5.3 Funding of research ............................................................................................................ 35
5.4 The research process and the institutions ........................................................................... 36
5.5 Dissemination of research .................................................................................................. 38
5.6 Evaluation of the research process and results................................................................... 39
All the Nordic countries have a tradition for transport research with a strong national focus to support the
domestic industry and policy decisions. The volume of research has always been different in the Nordic
countries. One of the reasons for this being that Sweden has a long tradition for car manufacturing, Finland a
huge IT production and Denmark, Norway and Iceland none of these. But several other differences in the
strategic approach to transport research can be identified.
Several attempts have been made to compare transport research in the five Nordic countries to learn from the
successes and failures of each other. One of these comparative descriptions was carried out by NTF in 1998
as a background study for a Nordic and Baltic seminar on transport research. The outcome was an interesting
paper presenting both similarities and differences in national transport research. Never the less it was agreed
that a more systematic approach in the comparison would greatly improve the outcome.
In the beginning of 2003 the Board of NTF decided to start a benchmark analyse in order to get a systematic
background for assessing strength and weaknesses in the national transport research activities. The project
focuses on the follow issues:
procedures for conducting transport research
the volume of research
the main themes for the research activities
and finally the project will identify relevant indicators for a benchmarking exercise.
Right from the start it was agreed, that the project should avoid the endless discussion of how „research‟ and
„transport‟ should be defined. A very broad limitation was applied, so the project covers all transport modes,
the vehicles and the transport system as well as its consequences for society. When talking about research we
do not limit ourselves to strict scientific work, but do incorporate also knowledge based development work.
The term used could be innovation systems within the transport sector. The above mentioned definitions are
deliberately loose in order to lead the project through the process.
The overall objective of the project is to assess the relation between the way to organise the transport
research and the strengths and weaknesses of the transport research in the five Nordic countries. The project
is based on quantitative information on the research procedures and volume and on qualitative assessments
on how the system works viewed from different stakeholders in the five countries. The public funding for
universities mostly from the Ministries of Education is not included in the assessment. This funding does
provide funds for university research in the transport field, but is probably of the same kind in all countries.
The project does in no way try to assess the quality of the research. It is an important task to do so and this is
included in the research procedures of most countries, but is fully excluded from this project.
The benchmark exercise will not lead to “the best way” to organise transport research, but rather identify the
strengths and weaknesses from alternative ways to organise the different steps in the overall transport
research set-up. In a long term perspective the system can also be used to assess the development in the
The authorities in the Nordic countries have been very cooperative and provided lots of information and
selected actors have been willing to participate in the group interviews. Without this spirit of cooperation and
support, it would not have been possible to carry out the project, so all participants are hereby thanked for
their participation in the process. The Board of NTF have played a specifically active role in the process of
work, through active support, information and contacts and furthermore through critical comments
throughout the work process.
1. Executive summary
The benchmark of transport research in the Nordic countries showed several similarities in the way to
organize and carry out transport research. However several differences also emerged, some seems to be a
result of a clear political priority and others more based in a tradition.
In most countries there are research programmes with open calls and transparent procedures. There are also a
fair amount of less transparent procedures typically managed by the road and rail directorates. Finally there
are funding for basic research as a lump sum to the major research institute, but generally of a much lower
In all countries there are several funding organizations with slightly different procedures for the management
of the research funds. Mechanisms to coordinate the funding are under way, but not yet fully developed in all
There are lots of research institutions and research groups competing for the funding. Universities, National
Research Institutes (except Iceland), consultants and in house researchers at authorities participate in
Furthermore there seems to be a relative weak link from the researchers to the end users of the research, even
though dissemination is given high priority and done with all kinds of means.
In all countries there is a clear need to ear-mark funds for transport research. There are only few examples of
successful competition in general research councils. This is probably due to the nature of transport research
as a cross-cutting sector close to implementation. The general research councils are more focussed on in-
depth discipline oriented research.
The differences are in the volume of funding. Measured in Euro per inhabitant Sweden spends more than the
double amount of public funds the other countries. Finland and Iceland are the second highest in funding,
Norway is at lower and finally comes Denmark with only 1/10 of the Swedish amount. In Sweden and
Finland the private sector contributes nearly as much as the public sector. An explanation could be that high
public commitment in transport research encourages the private sector and it could be the research areas
given high priority.
A difference is the research areas. Sweden has a very high focus on industry oriented research in vehicle
technology. In Finland the focus is mainly ITS and inter-modal transport. In Norway the focus is on policy
support tools. In Denmark it is also policy support which is high on the agenda, but with more focus on
development of new methodologies. In Iceland the main focus in the development of technical solutions for
road construction and awareness and information in relation to safety.
Finally there is an obvious difference in the priority of different types of research institutions. In Norway and
Denmark – with the lowest level of funding – the focus is on one or two research institutes. In these countries
the universities get only limited funding and the link between research and education is rather weak. In
Sweden the main focus is support to universities and several large university institutes get sufficient support
to create critical mass. In both Finland and Iceland also the consultants play an important role in transport
A brief characteristic of the research organization in each country is presented below:
Denmark: In Denmark the focus is to build institutions with critical mass, so the limited funding is
concentrated in the national research institutes. The volume of funding is low and has furthermore been
varying a lot. There is hardly any private contribution to research funding. These procedures do not involve
competition and are generally not transparent. The focus of the research is development of policy tools and
new methodologies mainly within economy, transport modelling, road construction and safety.
Finland: The level of funding has been growing fast and is relatively high. It is for the major part given in
competition using clear and transparent procedures. There are a long term focus on ITS and inter-modal
transport solutions, but generally most fields of research is covered. The Finnish transport research is
organised in programmes, but divided in small projects for implementation. This means that the major part of
research activities are short term and the basic research seems to suffer. Clustering of funding is used
actively to involve industry and local authorities in funding of transport research. Industry tops-up with 80%
of the public funding.
Iceland: The volume of funding is large due to a rule of ear-marking 2% of the road budget for research. The
procedures are not well developed because all stakeholders know each other and the transparency is ensures
by the person to person contact. The research is carried out both at universities, in house at the directorates
and at the consultants. The main areas are road construction and safety.
Norway: In Norway the transport research have been very stable in the last years both in the volume of
funding and in the priorities. The volume is relative low, but the stability gives “value for money”. High
priority is given to the two major research institutes and the universities have difficulties in maintaining
critical mass in transport research. This is well in line with the focus on policy support as the main area.
Industry does provide a minor part of the funding. The procedures for calls are transparent for a major part of
the research, but some of the funding is for in-house research in the road directorate without competition for
Sweden: In Sweden the volume of funding for transport research is very high. There is political focus on the
overall selection of research areas which means that despite a high level of funding specific research areas
can face situation without funding to compete for.
Universities are the backbone of the Swedish transport research, but both the national research institute and
the consultants have a role. Industry is funding a large part of transport research in Sweden - the public
funding is doubled by industry. A large part of the research is organized in transparent calls with clear and
open procedures, but a substantial part is still in less transparent procedures managed by the road and rail
administrations. Coordination mechanisms have been institutionalized Long term funding is available in
some areas by clustering funding into 5-10 years contracts with one research group, including Ph.d projects
2. Methodology and perception of transport research
In order to assess transport innovation systems or transport research as it will be called in this report, it is
necessary to introduce a framework. Without getting into very specific discussion of how to define the
different types of research it will be beneficial for the following discussion of research activities to divide the
research area into three different types of activities. By type is meant different thematic focus, different ways
of funding and different types of institutions to carry out the research and finally often different strategies for
dissemination of the research results. Three main types of research in the Nordic countries have been
The strategically managed research,
Research and development activities
They can be described in the following ways.
Strategically managed funds in programmes: This type of research is characterised by research
programmes, often involving also the private sector in both financing and identification of the specific
research themes. The themes can vary, but will generally be rather broad and orientated at solving problems
at a long time perspective of an interdisciplinary nature. The research management is professional and
transparent with competition for funding in open calls. A major effort is also into dissemination of research
both to the direct users of results (industry and policy makers) and to the international research community.
Research and development: This type of research is characterised by short term “problem solving” projects
and is typically driven by the funding institution, i.e. road or rail administrations. The procedures of selecting
projects for funding will often be less complicated and involve far fewer actors. There is however a variation
in this type of research organisation. In some cases there are tenders at project level and in other cases the
terms of reference for a research project is simply negotiated. The themes treated in this type of research are
rather limited in their scope and will typically involve one or two disciplines. Demonstration projects can be
part of this type of projects and they will often be close to implementation. This type of research is directly
disseminated to the problem owner and will often – if successful – be implemented. There is a limited effort
in dissemination both to a broader public of users and to the international research community.
Basic funding for research institutes: The basic research represents the free research with a long-term
scientific focus. This type of research is basically funded by directly earmarked funds to specific research
institutes and universities. In this type of research the researchers have a significant influence on the research
tasks. There will only rarely be competition among research institutions for this funding, but of course a
competition between individual researchers. In some cases there is competition between various areas but in
other cases the funding is earmarked for transport research. The dissemination will be to the international
The research chain
In order to discuss the research process, it is important to look at all the steps of what could be called the
research chain. The chain covers all steps taken in the research process from the very first identification of
the need for research in a certain area to the end use of research results. The research chain will have at least
the following steps:
Identification of the research theme
Allocation of funds for the research
Selection of the researchers to carry out the research
The research process
The dissemination of results
Evaluation of the research process
Identification of research themes The process of identifying research areas and themes can be organised in a
transparent procedure involving the policy level in the overall priority and relevant stakeholders in the more
detailed identification of themes. The process can also be less transparent and involving a group of end users
Organisation of research This can be done in a transparent procedure with open calls for proposals within
well-defined areas. The selection of proposals for funding can be done after criteria, which has been well-
known by all researchers. An external panel of scientists can be involved in the selection of proposals for
funding in order to avoid the suspicion of nepotism. There can be a procedure which is more closed and
either with limited calls or a less transparent procedure for selecting the proposals for funding. Furthermore
research funds can be administered by providing funding for certain institutes without any competition
between research institutions.
Funding of research The number of research funding institutions and the way they divide the responsibility
can have a large impact on the research carried out in the different counties. Several funding organisations
can create an unclear picture and add to the risk of overlapping. The funding can be allocated in few large
programmes or divided in small projects and the solution will have an impact on the research.
The research process and the institutions The research can be carried out in different kind of research
institutions and involving different disciplines in the work. There can be procedures for support to various
parts of the research environment as for instance PhD‟s. There is an obvious difference in the structure of
research institutions between the countries which somehow is due to different funding mechanisms but also
could be due to different traditions in the research process. Priority to multi-disciplinary research teams
could be given or priority to building capacity in few institutions, with critical mass.
Dissemination of research results Different ways of dissemination can be a demand from the funding
institutions, but will generally be an outcome based both on the funding institutions and the research
institutions. Dissemination will normally be directed towards other researchers in scientific publications or
towards the policymakers through reports and conferences. The way to organise dissemination can influence
very much the final use of the research results.
Evaluation of the research process and results Much knowledge can be gathered trough a stringent
evaluation of the research process, the research results and the end-use. The traditions to evaluate research
are very different within the different funding bodies and within the different research themes and types.
It is with this framework the organisation of research is described in order to identify how the strength and
weaknesses relate to the way the transport research is organised. Naturally the volume of research and the
available funding from both public and private side will also be part of the assessments.
To what degree the private sector is involved in research has both to do with the size of transport relevant
industry (like car manufacturing) and with the research policy. A policy orientated towards fulfilling the
research needs of the industry makes it more likely to see a strong industry involvement.
The input to this benchmarking exercise is gathered through a questionnaire send to the primary transport
research bodies in the Nordic countries. In addition a group interviews with all stakeholders in the transport
research chain have been held in each capital in order to create a direct dialogue on how the different actors
see the strength and weaknesses of the transport research system in their own country.
Based on this joint picture of the transport research landscape of the Nordic countries the benchmark
parameters are identified. They have been selected based a qualitative assessment of the information
gathered and with the aim of providing a benchmark system, which easily can be repeated. This demands
rather simple benchmark parameters, which anyhow explain the strengths and weaknesses. The benchmark
system will be adequate to compare the transport research cross country, but the systems can also be used to
assess changes in the systems over time both in each country and in a region as a whole.
3 Transport research in the Nordic countries
This chapter outlines the transport research landscape of each of the Nordic countries. As many facts as
possible are presented to provide a solid background for the following comparison. The following aspects
will be covered in the description:
The structure of the transport research sector providing information on the funding organisations
with the volume of research,
Which institutions organise the transport research,
Who carry out the research
How is the research disseminated
How is evaluation of research carried out
On this background the different characteristics of transport research and the volume is identified. Next step
is to describe the international relations of the research in each country, specifically how the EU funded
research is organised and if there are other types of international cooperation influence the research
activities. Finally the strength and weaknesses of the national transport research is presented partly based on
the group interviews and partly based on a first comparison between the countries.
The volume of transport research is large in Sweden compared to the population. The total public funding for
transport research is around 80-90 mills Euro and has been rather stabile at this level for more than a decade.
There are around 10 institutions involved in funding transport research, but the four major players are the
Road Directorate, The Energy Authority, VINNNOVA and the Rail Authority.
Directorate Directorate Industry
R&D areas fuel/vehicle Public related Industry
”F&U områden” programmes related programes
Rail Universities Other public Consultant Industryt
Road Business Schools
Directorate research Institutions
Directorate VTI, SSPA
The total public funding for transport research in Sweden is 765 mills. SKR, which corresponds to 85 mills
Euro. Four major funding institutions provide 96% of this funding. They are:
The Road Directorate finances 31,4 mills. Euro,
The Energy Authority finances 22,3 mills Euro.
VINNOVA finances 20,3 mills Euro.
The Rail Authority finances 7,8 mills. Euro
Other public organisations financing transport research is MISTRA, which is a foundation financing strategic
research on the environment and a part of their funds (around 1 mill Euro) are used for transport issues.
Another major contributor is The Maritime Authority (Sjöfartsverket) with a yearly budget of 0,55 mills.
Euro for transport research. Other minor contributors are The Research Councils, the Rädningsverket and
“Invest in Sweden”.
Also the private sector contributes to transport research. It is mainly the vehicle production industry, which
contributes with around 28 mills Euro to joint public private research funds. The car manufacturing industry
probably spends even more internally on research and development. Minor contributions from industry are
also seen in the entrepreneur business. They contribute with 50% to a research programme on innovative
road building and maintenance procedures.
The research institutions
The major research institutes with activities in the transport sector are the following:
Universities and Business Schools:
University of Stockholm, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)
University of Lund, Lund Institute of Technology (LTH)
University of Linköping, Blekinge Institute of Technology
University of Göteborg, Chalmars Institute of Technology
University of Umeå, Luleå Institute of Technology.
Universities of Ôrebro, Karlstad, Växjö and Uppsala.
National Research Institute in the transport area:
Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)
Consultants in transport research:
Furthermore the vehicle industry has in house research departments
The Road Directorate and the Rail Directorate also carry out in house research.
The overall research themes are defined by the Government and currently focus on the creation of economic
growth in the Swedish society. The themes are translated into annual research objectives for each of the
funding institutions and based on these research objectives a research strategy is developed.
Being based in the same overall objective, the focus tends to go in the same direction for all research
activities and currently, most research themes focus on industrial development in order to strengthen the
Swedish industry in the international competition.
There is however wide limits to define the specific research tasks under the headlines defined by
Government, and each funding institution pursue their own policy, when defining the research themes.
VINNOVA use a formal procedure based on the triple helix, which involves industry, researchers and
authorities in the identification of research themes. The Directorates define the research themes to support
the development of their overall tasks, but their obligation as funding institutions are broader in order to
provide results for the whole transport sector.
The current major priorities in Swedish transport research are for:
Vehicle research: Energy efficiency, bio fuels, environment and safety
Freight transport: Innovative systems,
The rail system: Competitiveness, efficiency, safety and environment
Maritime transport: Safety and environment, new types of ships
Safety: Intelligent vehicle safety system, safer road infrastructure
The transport system: Sustainability, human aspects, safety, the transport system of tomorrow, ITS,
improved information for the road user.
Sweden is actively involved in transport research in the framework programmes of EU. VINNOVA provide
support for researchers developing proposals for Integrated Project‟s, but apart from that the cost and risk of
proposal writing is on the researcher. There are options to achieve national funding to add up the EU
funding, but the research groups cannot be sure in advance if additional national funding is available.
On a small scale the national Swedish research programme already finance foreign researchers at foreign
research institutions. In some cases there is a demand for international input for workshops etc, but in other
cases mainly foreign research project are being financed by Swedish funding. There are no legal barriers to
As a basic principle the funding institution organise its own funding procedures. This means that the Road
Directorate accounts for their own funding, the Energy Authority for theirs, etc. Clustering of funding for
large programmes does exist. A programme for vehicle research is established with a total funding of 10
mills Euro from the public side and a smaller amount from the industry. The public funds are contributions
from the Road Administration, VINNOVA, The Energy Authority, and small contributions from others.
There is other similar clustering of funding, but PFF (The Programme for Vehicle research) are by far the
To create a larger degree of coordination amongst the individual research funding institutions TRANSAM
has been formed in 2002. TRANSAM is the forum where clustering and co-financing of programmes by the
individual providers can be decided and potential gabs and overlaps between the different funding
institutions can be avoided. TRANSAM has been established as a coordinating network involving 10
institutions. In the new strategy for transport research published in 2004 TRAMSAM is expected to take a
more powerful role in the coordination and cooperation.
Transport research is organised in several different ways. One part is organised in so called Competence
Centres. There are currently four such competence centres three in the area of vehicle motor development
and one in rail infrastructure. These centres have well-defined organisations with clear procedures for
selection of research areas for such centres, a certain share of funding for Ph.D.‟s at the universities as well
as clear procedure and budget for an ongoing evaluation process. The full funding for the competence centre
is decided in one call, so after the establishment of the competence centre the relation between the funding
institutions and the research group is a question on how to fulfil the contract and not a discussion on further
funding. The competence centres are financed by the Energy Authority and VINNOVA. The main idea is to
give a signal of permanence and a long-term financial commitment from the public institutions that they are
prepared to provide funding for at least 10 years with an annual budget of 0.67 mills. Euro per competence
Another part of the transport research is organised in major programmes. The identification of research
themes is done in a transparent process involving industry, authorities and researchers. Each programme has
a well-defined area of research and call for proposals are opened one or more times during the life of the
programme. Different research groups can attain funding within the same programme and no cooperation
between the researches groups are demanded from the funding institution. The selection of research
institutions to carry out the research is done in open and transparent procedures involving international
scientific referees and a panel of external members to provide recommendations to the board, taking the final
decision on funding. These types of calls cover the major part of the funding from VINNOVA and the
Energy Authority. Also a part of the funding from the Road Directorate is organised in programmes.
Parts of the funding from Road and Rail Directorates have a simpler procedure. There are open calls for
proposals, but the evaluation of the proposals are done in house and do not involve an external panel. Criteria
for attaining funding are however clear and the themes open for research proposals is well defined. The R&D
activities in the road and rail directorates include also a substantial amount of demonstration projects. The
research is carried out in a project organisation. Each project is funded, carried out, disseminated and closed.
A prolongation of a project will demand a new process right from the start. A major part of the research
themes are closely connected to the immediate needs of the directorates to fulfil their obligation in
development of the road and rail system.
Basic research - the long-term research creating the grounding for the strategic research- is mainly provided
through the competence centres and the major programmes. The Research Councils (FORMAS, FAS and
Vetenskapsrådet) have funding for basic research within all fields of research, but hardly any funding is
provided for the transport area. Currently the funding from this side accounts for only 0,1% of the total
public funding for transport research. VTI, the national research institute receive basic funding of around
20% of their budget.
Dissemination and evaluation
The dissemination and evaluation of the research activities is carried out as a responsibility of the funding
institution and no common procedures exist. Both areas seem to have clear procedures and funding in the
competence centres. In the programmes of the Road Directorate the dissemination is carried out during the
research process by connecting a group of relevant actors to follow and advice the research process.
VINNOVA hosts a research conference each year where the research results is presented and discussed
between researchers and policy makers.
Clear procedures for evaluation of the transport research do not exist and it seems to be done as spot check.
Resources for evaluations are not allocated for this as part of the research funding.
Strength and weaknesses
The major strength in Swedish transport research is a large and constant volume of transport research. The
funding of 80 – 90 mills Euro has been provided by more or less the same sources year after year, which
means that the research institutions can plan for the future, but of course within a competitive environment.
There have been some substantial changes in the organisational structure, with the change from KFB to
VINNOVA, but the transport research has survived the change even with a slight increase in the funding.
The research institutions in the transport are spread out on several institutions and some of those have
difficulty in attaining critical mass even with the high volume of public funding available. Competence
centres and virtual research organisations try to counteract this, but do not seem to be totally successful.
The Swedish transport research system is characterised by clear overall objectives formulated by
Government. The advantage of this system is the transparent and policy driven approach to research. The
disadvantage seems to be that a large part of the research is in the same area in a certain period. Currently the
demand for growth is the overall objective and research to support industrial growth has the highest priority.
This means however that other themes get less funding and the impression is that research in the basic
understanding of the transport system as well as the human and policy sides of transport research is given
less priority. The research environments within these fields might vanish if the period without funding for
this kind off research gets too long.
A large number of funding institutions provides a fragmented picture and the division of labour is not totally
clear. Overlapping research will however be avoided by the coordination forum TRANSAM. From
researcher side it is however pointed out that this initiative do not counteract the fragmentation and avoid
overlapping and gabs in the transport research.
Transport research in Norway is rather stable both in the volume and in the research organisations. There are
compared to other Nordic countries few actors which makes the procedures relatively simple.
Trade and In-house
Ministry of Ministry of Road
Universities, Business Schools
Independent Research Institutions
The total funding for transport research (2003) is 124 mills. NKR, which corresponds to 15 mills. Euro.
There are five major actors in financing transport research in Norway: Ministry of Transport, The Road
Directorate, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Fishery and the Research Council. By far the major
part of the funds is gathered in The Research Council and they organise the research process. The funding
institutions provide their funds to the research council but leave a smaller amount for research and
development work in direct relation to the knowledge demand of the institution. The Ministry of Transport
have a total of 6.7 mills. Euro and leave 3.5 mills to be managed by the research council. The rest is earmark
for support to EU funded projects, policy oriented analyses, which are managed in house and a smaller part
for sustainable transport and alternative fuels. The main funding institutions are:
Ministry of Transport 6.7 mill. Euro
Road Directorate 3.5 mill. Euro
Research Council 0.5 mill. Euro
Industry 3.7 mill Euro
There are other small funding organisations as other state directorates and local authorities.
The contribution from industry is mainly to one research programme PULS (logistics and freight transport),
and apart from this significant contribution, industry play a minor role in the funding of transport research.
The Research Institutions
In Norwegian transport research two major research institutes are dominating. Transport Economic Institute
TØI is the biggest research environment in the transport area. TØI is an independent institution with no
formal relations to neither to the Ministry of Transport or the universities. Around 20% of the income at TØI
is financed by basic funding of which one part is earmarked for TØI and the rest is attained in competition
with other areas and institutions. TØI employs around 60 researcher in the field of transport and cover
mainly economic aspects of transport. Another significant institute in Norway is SINTEF. SINTEF is more
involved in the technical fields of transport research. 48 researchers are working with transport research in
SINTEF. SINTEF is an independent institute just as TØI, but with close cooperation with the University of
Tronheim. The division of labour being that more scientific aspects is taken care of by the university and
issues closer to market and policy by SINTEF.
Furthermore some of the research funding is used for in house research in the Road Directorate. Around 1
mill Euro of the total funding is used for that.
Universities and business schools are relatively little involved in Transport research. Agderforskningen,
University of Stavanger, The Business School in Møre and NIBR has been working in the transport area, but
the number of researchers in the transport fields has not exceeded five in the latest years in each of these
institutions. It is a clear policy from the funding organisations not to spread out the funding on too many
institutions which can not obtain the critical mass.
On the other hand some consultants are involved in transport research in Norway. Norsk Veritas is dealing
with maritime transport, Econ Analysis with economy and Asplan Viak with transport planning. There seems
to be a clear division of labour with the universities and business schools involved in the scientific and
discipline orientated research and deal only very little with transport issues. Institutes (TØI and SINTEF)
carry out transport research both basic research activities and strategic analyses. Consultants are involved
mainly when applying the research in short-term analyses close to market or policy.
The major part of the transport research in Norway aims at support to development of the transport policy.
The overall research themes are identified by the Ministry of Transport due to the sector responsibility. The
Ministry earmarks funds for this specific research area and ask the research council to organise research
within this specific area. The more detailed identification of the research theme is the first step of the
research process headed by the Research Council and decided by a group involving all relevant actors within
the field, including the researchers. The procedure seems to be clear and transparent and relatively simple.
The research council will in this process also search for additional funding from other actors if that is
beneficial for the research area.
The Road Directorate have their own procedures to identify relevant research themes. The area has been
closely linked to the tasks of the Directorate, but a broader view on research needs have developed in the last
period i.e. a focus on public transport.
The main areas are:
Traffic safety and driver behaviour
Transport and health
Logistic and freight transport
Regional development and infrastructure
Financing and organising public transport
Transport data and modelling to increase the understanding of the sector.
Norway is a full member of the research cooperation in EU and participates in the transport research
programmes. Researchers can get funding for writing proposals, 50% of cost are covered.
Furthermore there are earmarked funds for the additional funding for EU projects which attain funding.
Generally 25% is given on top of the EU funding which leaves a gap of 25% for the research organisation to
find in other ways, which proves to be very difficult. Norwegian researchers have had great success in the
The experience is that participation in international research is administratively heavy, and judged by the
output of the research the benefit seems to be limited. The benefit is mainly at the researches side in terms of
a relevant network. The priority given to dissemination of research in the EU system has encouraged
Norwegian researchers to put more emphasis on this phase of the research.
There are mainly four ways of organising transport research in Norway.
One is the strategic research which is mainly managed by the Research Council. Funding comes from other
partners and the Research Council just manage the call procedures, evaluation of proposals etc. The time
perspective for this kind of research is 5 to 10 years. The procedures are transparent and all proposals are
refereed by two international researchers. All partners in the research process find that this is carried out
professionally and with a valuable feed back to the researchers. The research institutes are however few, so
in the end the competition is limited to rather few actors – and quite a lot of resources are spend on proposal
The second is the research funds managed by the Ministry of Transport and Road Directorate
themselves. This type of research is research and development works with the aim of direct input to policy
and implementation. The time perspective will often be a short period 3-5 years. The procedures are less
open and transparent. There can be calls for proposals between invited partners or the projects can just be
handed over to a specific research institute, which is regarded the best for the specific purpose. There will
generally not be external referees to assess the proposals.
A third type of research organisation is the in house research in the Road Directorate. The research areas
are decided by the researchers in the Road Directorate and are never exposed to competition by other
researchers. The themes are mainly traffic safety and human behaviour. This procedure is very little
Finally there are funding for basic research in Norway. The Ministry of Transport have earmarked funds for
TØI as a basic funding which can be used for scientific work outside the specific programmes and projects.
These funds can be used for internal projects and for dissemination of research results to international
research journals etc. Furthermore The Research Council provides funds for basic research and these are
managed in calls with selected institutes as bidders.
Dissemination is getting increasing attention in most of the transport research in Norway. The Research
Council has a demand for dissemination in international research journals whereas the Ministry of Transport
and Road Directorate are more focussed on the dissemination to the national policy side. TØI publishes the
magazine Samferdsel, which is an important tool for dissemination to the national actors. Also conferences
are held by both TØI and the Research council in order to get the results to the problem owners. Generally
the actors in Norwegian transport research feel that there is political focus on the transport area, but
somehow limited understanding that research takes time and that research results contain a lot of details and
generally only cover part of the reality of the political life. The Ministry of transport try to translate the
research results to the political level and there are political response to the research results and examples of
direct implementation of results.
Evaluation of the research
There is no systematic evaluation of research from the Ministry of Transport, but the Research Council
Norway carries out general evaluations of the research institutes.
Strength and weaknesses
The strength of the Norwegian transport research is that despite a rather low volume, the activities are
concentrated on few institutes, which have critical mass and a high quality, which make then competitive
internationally. An institute seems to be more stable than the universities be course the researchers get a
permanent job and it is a collective responsibility to attract sufficient research projects. The research field is
mainly support to decision making and much less to support industry. The focus is therefore on a sustainable
and efficient transport system.
There seems to be a clear division of labour between the strategic research managed and research and
development activities. The first is very professionally managed by the Research Council funded by
earmarked funds from the Ministry of Transport and other partners. This research has a basic character and
will provide funding for PhD‟s at universities. The second is managed in house by the Road Directorate and
the Ministry of Transport and have a limited time frame and are closer to implementation. These procedures
seem to be clear and well accepted by all actors involved in research.
One weakness in the Norwegian system is the lack of relation between the research institutes and the
education of candidates at the universities. A lot of the expertise from the research work is not channelled to
the students be course of a weak university sector.
There is competition for nearly all the funding of transport research, but with the limited number of research
institutions it could be questioned if the resources spend on proposal writing in reality is worth it.
The Finnish transport research has grown substantially in the last decade and there is now a good level of
funding for transport research. The system has several actors both on the funding side and on the research
side and tendering procedures are nearly the only way of allocating resources to the researchers.
and Industry Industry
Road Other modal
Administration Administrations Funding
research institut Business Schools
The total public funding for transport research is around 25 mills Euro per year. The main contributors are
The Road Administration 6 mills Euro
Ministry of Transport 8 “
Other modal administrations 5 “
Tekes 3 “
Other state enterprises 3 “
Other partners are contributing as well. There are substantial industry participate in some part of the
research. The important IT industry in Finland makes it obvious for industry to participate in development of
ITS solutions, and fund a part of this research. The industry provides some funds for cooperation with the
publicly funded research and development but much larger resources are used for in house research in the
industrial enterprises. Regional and local authorities participate to research funding as well with smaller parts
of specific programmes in their local interest.
The research institutions
In Finland several enterprises and institutions participate in transport research. One of the major players is
VTT a public and independent research institute covering several fields in transport research. VTT receives
25 % of the turnover as funding from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which can be used in any field of
Several universities and business schools are involved in transport research with especially the Technical
Universities of Helsinki and Tampere as the major institutions. Also consultants participate in the research
work. There seems to be only a limited division of labour between the research institutions.
The research themes are in principle identified by the funding institution. The transport policy is setting the
framework for identification of research areas in terms of the long-term strategy with a 20-25 years
perspective. Several themes are more or less a permanent priority as freight transport and logistics, ITS,
traffic safety etc. Within these permanent and overall areas, the researchers can come up with suggestions for
specific themes and if the proposed theme is within the priority area, a call for tender on the issue will often
be the result. The procedure for identification of research needs is not seen as fully transparent by the
researchers and they stress that it is very important to keep the dialogue with the programme managers to try
to read their mind on how to make the proposal.
The current themes for research are:
Logistic cost and competitiveness of Finnish transport industry
Infrastructure development with focus on the primary network, the service on the lower road
network and of the Helsinki Metropolitan transport system
Improve the transport system with regard to safety, environment and accessibility
Development and use of ITS
Requirements of the road user including information
Procurement of road works and services
The Finnish transport researchers are very much involved in EU funded research. In order to encourage this,
the Ministry of Transport support in some cases the proposal writing, just as a major part of projects which
are only partly funded by COM will attain the final part of the funding from The Ministry or the transport
and infrastructure administrations. There is however no guarantee and it is decided case by case. The criteria
are whether the proposed research falls within the Finnish priorities and is of high quality.
Finish transport researchers do participate in other Nordic programmes, but only in a very limited amount.
The Finish research programmes are currently open for international researchers.
There are several funding organisations and they have in principle each their way of organising the research
chain. The identification of research themes is done by each of the institutions based on the policy
documents from government and the current and long term targets of the organisation. Ministry of Transport
gets input for the more detailed identification process from all relevant stakeholders. There is an interaction
between researchers and programme managers in the process of identifying the research needs. From the
researcher side it is seen as not very transparent and favours the research groups, who are already involved in
The speciality of Finnish transport research are the clustering of funding by various institutions including
local authorities or private industries, which do not have a sector responsibility in transport research. The
clustering will often provide a win-win situation because all funding organisations potentially get a much
larger project than they could finance individually. The researchers however claim that it sometimes is a very
difficult task to fulfil all expectations from the funding institutions.
In Finland the three types of research are present:
Strategically managed programmes Calls for proposals are the normal way of allocating the funds to the
research groups. For the Ministry of Transport this procedure is used for all funding. The procedures are
transparent and all proposals are evaluated by the steering group of the programme. There are very limited
division of labour in the research environment and the universities and consultants implement more or less
the same types of activities. This means that for instance Ph.D. projects are rarely an integrated part of a
programme or project and researchers find that the funding is divided in so small amounts that one
assignment cannot cover a PhD student for three years.
Research and development The Road Directorate does often have limited calls with few invited research
groups or directly give a research group a task without competition with small research projects (less than
20.000 Euro). The Road Directorate prefers to conduct small projects because the experiences are that the
smaller projects often give a better output in relation to the funding than the larger projects. The researchers
claim that the funding is divided into too small projects. The research and development projects are often
linked directly to the overall tasks of the directorates and do not have the aim of building transport research
Basic research has limited funding in Finland. VTT receives around 3 mills Euro a year mainly for basic and
strategic research. The Academy of Finland has the task of funding the basic research at universities, but
with in the last twenty years only a couple of projects or PhD has been funded by them within the transport
Dissemination and evaluation
Most research programmes have a Web-site so interested parties can easily get all information about a
research project and an annual Transport research conference is held. There is however a feeling that the
research results get too little attention by the policy maker and the dialogue between the research world and
the policymakers are much too limited.
Evaluation of all programmes is carried out after a clear procedure 6-12 month before the termination of the
programme. They are organised by the Research Unit in the Ministry of Transport, which is the contact point
for transport research and therefore take care of quality assessments and dissemination.
Strength and weaknesses
The Finnish system has the strength of a relatively high funding for transport research and a unit in the
Ministry of Transport dealing professionally with the management of transport research. It is also seen as a
stronghold that funds from various sources are clustered into programmes, even though this also gives the
researchers an inhomogeneous group to satisfy with the project.
The weakness of the system seems to be that the conditions for most of the research activities are of the same
type and this does not create differentiation in the research environment.
Denmark has a relatively weak tradition for transport research. The earmarked funding has not been at a
constant level, and was reduced from 2001 to 2002 due to budget cuts. There have been substantial changes
in the organisation and the research institutes under the last decade.
Ministry of Danish Research
Road Directorate Funding
The Danish Danish Transport Indenpendent
Road Institute Research Institute Universities research institutes
(DTF) Business Schools (DMU,AKF)
The funding for Transport research is provided by The Ministry of Transport and The Road Directorate. In
both cases close to all funds are earmarked for two national research institutes.
The funding from The Ministry is 15 mills. DKK, which corresponds at 2.1 mills EURO. The other major
contributor is the Road Directorate with 20 mills DKK corresponding at 2.8 mills EURO.
The funding for transport research in 2003 was:
Ministry of Transport 2.0 mills Euro
The Road Directorate 2.7 mills Euro
Specific programmes 1.8 mills Euro
(Transport Council, Research Council)
Other 1.8 mills Euro
Total 8.3 mills Euro
In 2003 some programmes were still ongoing, which had received the funding before the change of
government late 2001. These research programmes will not be continued or replaced by others when they run
out of funding late 2004.
The total funding for Transport research will late 2004 be at a level of 40-50 mills DKK corresponding at 5-7
Industry does not contribute to transport research. Occasionally some of the major enterprises fund
equipment at university institutes, but there is no co-financing between public and private actors.
The two major research institutes are Denmark‟s Transport Research Institute and The Road research
Institute. The Universities also play an important role. Denmark‟s Technical University, The University of
Aalborg, Roskilde University are the most important, but probably only the first mentioned can obtain
critical mass after 2004, unless new investments in transport research is decided.
Consultant firms have also participated in research, but with the current limited funds, this is at a very low
The research themes at the national institutes are:
Road construction and maintenance
At the universities the themes are:
Danish researchers participate in EU transport research. The participation has however declined in the latest
years. There is no way to find the additional funding at national level for the shared cost actions but there is
support for SME‟s developing a proposal, but these are not earmarked funds for transport research.
Most transport research in Denmark are organised as direct support to an institute. This is the case for both
the support from the Ministry of Transport to Denmark‟s Transport Research Institute and for the support
from the Road Directorate to the Road Research Laboratory.
The identification of research themes are done by the board of the research institutes, probably after a
dialogue with the funding organisation. This means that the researcher has an important say, but in the end it
is the board with representatives from the researcher, the industry and the authorities who will take the final
decision. There is no competition between research institutions as the funds are earmarked to the institutes.
Dissemination and evaluation of the research is organised and carried out by the research institutions. The
dissemination is done to international research journals and conference papers but go also to the Ministry of
Transport. Generally some effort is made to inform the public about important results. There is an annual
conference on transport research, organised by researchers, where dissemination from researchers to practise
is done. Often interesting results will be discussed in the press and most research groups try to get
dissemination both to other researchers and to the public in general.
Strengths and weaknesses
The strength in Danish transport research is the clear commitment to the national institutes. This means that
the institutes can get involved in basic research activities and develop a permanent transport research
The major weakness of the Danish system is the very limited public funds and the instability in the funding.
This gives a great uncertainty for research environments at the universities and it is difficult to attract the
best qualified students for transport research.
Another stronghold is the tradition for a broad dissemination of result both to other researchers and to the
political level and the general public through the press
A major weakness is the lack of competition when allocating research funds. There is no guarantee that the
best research gets the available funding.
Not only in size Iceland differ from the other Nordic countries, also the main themes of interest are
different due to the unique conditions on natural resources and infrastructure.
In a small society as Iceland it is relatively easy to get an overview of persons who have expertises
on specific themes. All relevant actors know each other in the transport sector. This makes it
possible to practise a “bottom up process”, where project ideas generated amongst transport
researchers reach support from the governmental institutions.
R&D Civil Aviation R&D Maritime R&D
Public Roads Funding
division Administration In- In-
University Public research
of Iceland institutes
Three modal administrations are responsible for transport research:
*Public Roads Administration
*Civil Aviation Administration
The Public Road Administration established in 1994 a special research and development division.
1% of the total budget of The Public Roads Administration is earmarked to funding of R&D.
The total funding for transport research is around 2 mills Euro in Iceland of which 50% is
administered by the road Authorities, 25% by the Civil Aviation Authority and 15% by the
The private sector does not participate significantly to the funding of transport research.
The Research institutions
The funding institutions do also carry out in- house research. Most research is carried out in
cooperation between the public authorities, Universities and private consultant. As mentioned
earlier, the number of people dealing with R&D in transport is so limited that all know each other
and the cooperation is easy to establish.
There are no specific transport researchers groups at the universities, but the Institute of Economics
and of Civil Engineering have been involved in several research activities.
It is estimated that around 20-25 people are full time involved in transport research.
The themes, which is currently being worked on in transport research and development in Iceland
Intermodal / Multimodal transport: Road and sea links
Maritime transport: Safety at sea, including telematics, harbour design, ship stability
Transport in sparsely populated areas: Infrastructure development
Traffic in cold climates: Road building, materials, maintenance, safety and environment
Air traffic Management: Simulation models, radar data processing and data tramnsmission
between ground and aircraft
Transport researchers from Iceland are involved in EU research programmes and other international
activities. There are support from the national research funding to participte actively in the EU
Around 35% of the funding available for research in the Road Directorate is allocated to a large
program with a time frame of five years. A Theme for the programme is selected and a board for
the programme is established. There are open calls for proposals to the programme. The current
programme is called RANNUM and focus on traffic safety.
The other part of the funding is allocated project by project and in several occasions‟ cooperation
between different research groups. As mentioned earlier the number of people involved in transport
research is so few that there is no need for more transparent procedures. In this research a bottom up
procedure is the most used. Research topics are suggested from authorities, researchers or road
users and they are all taken into account when defining new research activities.
There is no specific funding for basic research. The universities are involved project by project and
no effort is made to build a transport research environment in one of the institutions. The research
council has been involved in transport research, but basically co-financing EU projects. It is
estimated that the basic research cover 15% of the total funding.
Dissemination is said to be a simple issue in a society as small as the Icelandic. All people in the
transport sector know the ongoing research programmes and will know about the results as soon as
they are available.
Strength and weaknesses
A stronghold is the relative large funding for transport research in Iceland
Another is the limited number of people involved in transport research activities which make the
direct involvement of all partners easy to administer without formal procedures.
A weakness is the lack of a core institution for transport research being at a university or an
independent institution. Such an institute could form the basis of building one strong transport
research group and take care of education of PhD‟s and give continuity to transport research
4 The Research Chain
As described in chapter two, the research process from the starting point of identifying the new
research areas and to the dissemination is the backbone in this analysis of transport research in the
Nordic countries. This chapter go through the research chain step by step and describe and discuss
the distinctive characteristics of the national processes, as well as the advantages and disadvantages
of the organisation of each step. The input for this description is mainly the group interviews
conducted in each country with all stakeholders in the research process. This exercise provides the
background for selecting the areas interesting to pin point in the benchmark exercise.
The research chain has in this description the following steps:
Identification of research themes – Management of research - Funding of research – The
research process – Dissemination of results – Evaluation of process and results
4.1 Identification of research themes
The questions behind this part of the research process are which stakeholders are involved in the
identification of research areas and after what kind of procedures this is done. Another area of interest is to
what extend do the priorities of the EU or other international institutions influence the national priorities and
how are the balance between long term and short term interests treated.
In Sweden the Government sets the overall objectives for all research activities, which is then further detailed
by the individual research funding organisation. This means that each institution funding transport research
has been given overall objectives for the work as well as annual targets to meet. The objectives and annual
targets are however so vaguely described that there consequently is plenty of room for manoeuvring in each
of the funding institutions.
Different procedures for the identification of research themes are used in the various funding bodies. In
VINNOVA and a part of the researches funded by the Energy Authority, the Rail and Road Directorates
there are formal procedures to be followed. Groups with participation of researchers, the industry and the
authorities will identify the themes to be used in the call procedures.
Other parts of the research funded by the Road and Rail directorates are identified mainly as the immediate
and long term needs of these institutions. The research, in this case will answer a concrete need of the
institution and no other partners are involved in the identification of research themes.
In Norway the major initiator of new research themes is the Ministry of Transport (MOT). Based on their
overview of the ongoing research activities and policy needs new research initiatives are identified. The
areas can be directly linked to the tasks of the Ministry, but due to MOT‟s sector responsibility research can
also be initiated in areas outside the immediate field for policy interventions. The identification of themes
can be supported by inputs from researchers, The Road Directorate or other stakeholders, but no formal
procedure exists. Early in the process the Research Council takes over the management of the further
process. They will typically involve all stakeholders in a formal procedure to formulate the specific research
programme within the selected field. This procedure involves researchers, industry, authorities and other
relevant organisations. This process is transparent and is perceived very positive by all partners involved in
the research process.
R&D activities in the road and rail directorates are identified in-house and do not involve a formal procedure
of involving other actors.
In Finland the research unit in the Ministry of Transport and Communication (MinTC) is responsible for the
identification of future research themes, based on the transport policy documents, mainly the long-term plan
with a 20-25 years perspective, and the annual updated midterm operational strategies and financial plans.
There are no formal procedures for involving stakeholders in the identification of new research initiatives.
However an ongoing dialogue between researchers and users of the research form the background for the
identification. A negotiation phase takes place when formulating new programmes which involves potential
co-financing partners in order to cluster all available funding for a certain area.
In The Road Directorate research topics basically are identified in-house and the involvement of other
partners is weaker and less formalised than in the programmes managed by the MinTC.
In Denmark the identification of new research themes is managed in cooperation between the Ministry of
Transport (MOT) and the two research institutes under MOT. The Ministry of Transport has a contract with
the research institute outlining the overall objectives for the institutes, and the board of the institutes is
responsible for the detailed specification of the themes. The board comprises representatives from the
industry, the research environment and authorities.
In Iceland the identification of the research areas are initiated by the Road Directorate through an informal
process involving several actors. A board is established to manage programmes and the board are also
identifying the research themes. Research managed by the maritime and air authorities is identified in-house.
Strengths and weaknesses
The overall objectives for transport research can be defined by the Government as it is the case in Sweden,
but more often by the Ministries of Transport based on both the long term policy documents and the more
immediate needs. In most countries the Ministry of Transport holds a sector role, including the responsibility
of providing a broad knowledge base of the mechanisms of the transport sector. A well-defined sector role
seems to lead to broader research themes.
In the Swedish case, the overall objectives focussing on economic growth results in a dominating part of
research based on the needs of the industry from all research funding institutes. Little focus and funding is
provided for research to support the understanding of the transport system, to support policy making in areas
as infrastructure needs, behaviour or the human aspects of transport. The strong steering of research from the
Government means that the focus of research funding changes substantially from period to period. The
strength of this is of course the possibility for politicians to influence the overall objectives for research on a
long term basis and focus the research effort. The weakness is that a major part of the research funds tend to
go in the same direction and leaves other fields without funding.
No country has a fully transparent and formal process of identifying research themes for all public funding.
In most countries there are such procedures for the strategically managed research, whereas the large part of
the research funded by the road and rail directorates follow less transparent and wel-defined procedures. This
is partly due to tradition and partly due to the specific research carried out under the directorates: To solve
concrete problems faced by the authorities.
It is a general picture is that the researchers feel that the identification of new research themes are not taking
place in a transparent procedure and that only a few researchers, already heavily involved in research
activities, are invited to participate. In Norway, however, all partners were satisfied with the procedures
carried out by the Research Council.
Another general picture is that most researchers find a lack of interest on the part of the political level to
obtain and use knowledge from transport research. The gap between research and end user were spelled out
strongest in Finland and Denmark and least in Iceland and Norway. One mechanism to explain this could be
that the users of transport research are involved in the identification in Norway, whereas in Finland and
Sweden for instance the overall objectives are formulated by the policy level and detailed by programme
officers. However the process of involving end users already in the identification process is not an easy task.
The important factors when identifying research themes seems to be:
To provide transparent procedures and still keep the flexibility of reacting to new situations and good
To be able to change political priorities without loosing important research competencies in fields,
which is not currently given high priority
To involve end users in the identification without making all research short-term and of an
immediate problem solving nature
4.2 Organisation of research
This section is based on how procedures for calls and evaluations are working and how transparent and clear
they are. There have been looked into how they are viewed from both the researchers and progranmme
The differences between the Nordic countries are not striking when it comes to the funding procedures. Here
management basically follow the same procedures and the differences can be explained by the ways the
different types of research are managed.
The strategically managed research is in all countries organised through transparent procedures with calls for
proposals and external evaluation of tenders. Generally all stakeholders are satisfied with the procedures. In
Norway researchers were especially positive towards the response they receive from the Research Council -
both in the cases when they attain a proposal for funding and in situations where their proposal is rejected.
Also the use of external experts when selecting proposals for funding was praised from many sides.
In research and development, the procedures are less transparent and the tendency is that the same research
groups again and again obtain the available funding. Calls are organised for parts of the R&D research. And
generally the procedures are criticised by the researchers either because the research themes are unclear and
the researchers “have to read the brains of the programme officers” – as it was expressed in Finland, or
because they have to compete with in-house research, as in Norway.
Funding for basic research is in all cases earmarked funds for specific research institutes. In Denmark the
major part of the research funding is dedicated to two research institutes. Norway, Sweden and Finland
supply limited funding for the major research institutes (20-25% of their budget) as basic funding. These
funds can be used for additional research projects, other than the externally financed projects and researchers
can internally apply for funds to research in areas not having received funds from other sources. The
additional work to prepare an article for a research journal is one of the ways to use these funds.
All countries has general research councils with the task of supporting basic research at universities, but the
examples of transport research receiving funds from the general research councils in free competition with
other research areas are hard to come by. In Finland the Academy of Finland had only financed few transport
Ph.D.‟s for 20 years. The research councils in Sweden FORMAS and FAS provide currently 0.1% of the
funding for transport research. The situation is similar in the other Nordic countries. This indicates that
transport research have great difficulties when competing with other discipline oriented research areas. It
seems to be necessary to earmark funding for transport research in order to get research institutions with
critical mass and to ensure continuity in the transport research environments.
The clear and transparent procedures building on competition between research groups have the advantage
that the best proposals obtain funding, but several researchers rise the point that the procedure also takes a
substantial part of resources away from the research work. Especially in the cases where few researchers
cover a specific area, the resources are spent maybe to compete with no or only a few other proposals.
Several researchers wanted to introduce simple procedures and less time consuming proposals.
The important questions in regards to organisation of transport research seem to be:
To find a good balance between the different types of research reflecting the type of outcome wanted
both in the short and in the long run
To insure a relevant use of competition to secure funding for the best research proposals, but also
taking into account the resources spend proposal writing, evaluation etc
To ensure sufficient earmarked funds for transport research as transport research sems to be a weak
player in competition with other research areas
4.2 Funding of research
The questions behind this section is how wel coordinated the funding organisations are working both
nationally and internationally. Are there different types of funding for different typoes of research activities,
like for instance specific funding for PhD‟s.
The funding institutions
The sources of the funding differ between the countries, but most strikingly is the difference in the
involvement of industry in transport research.
In Sweden, Norway and Finland there are substantial input from industry to research programmes. This
probably has two types of impact on research: Firstly the volume of research is enhanced and secondly a
strong cooperation between researchers, industry and authorities is established which is probably valuable
also in other ways.
In Denmark and Iceland the industry does not participate in funding of research.
One obvious reason for the difference in the industry‟s involvement in research is the presents of the car
industry in Sweden and the IT industry in Finland, but this is not the full explanation. Both in Finland,
Norway and Sweden the transport industry and entrepreneurs participate in research funding and these types
of industry also exist in Denmark and Iceland. The differenses in the participation of the private sector is
probably due to the commitment of the public sector. If the authorities do not give the area status through
funding and active participation in the transport research organisation then it is less likely that the private
sector will get involved in any significant way.
Another significant difference between the countries can be found in the the number of institutions involved
in funding transport research. It seems that in most countries there has been a solid tradition for the Road
Directorates to have large funds available for research.
In Denmark it is simple with The Ministry of Transport and the Road Directorate providing close to all the
funding for transport research. Until now some programmes have contributed, but there are no plans for a
continuation of these.
In Iceland the funding situation is relative simple as well with three main modal authorities funding nearly
all transport research. The division of labour seems clear as each authority take care of research and
development within their area and on top of this the Road Directorate organises and manages a Research
programme. In Iceland 1% of the road budget is allocated to research.
In Norway the Research Council has the role of clustering and organising the programmes whereas the Road
Directorate and other minor public players also have their own funding for separate activities. Most of the
funding is thereby consolidated in few programmes by the Research Council, which gives a relative clear
situation and to a large extend avoid overlapping research. There are however the possibility of overlaps
between the larger programmes and the activities of the Road Directorate both in respec to their substantial
in-house research and the funding of external research.
In Finland the situation similar to that of Norway, just with the difference that The Research Unit in The
MinTC organises the programmes. Also here the Road Directorate and other partners manage substantial
funds for their own research needs. The number of organisations with a substantial volume for funding
transport research is limited to 3-4, but the division of labour between the funding organisations is unclear.
This makes it difficult for researchers to get access to funding for a specific research activity and for the user
of research to find the interesting results.
In Sweden there are around 10 institutions funding transport research of which the major four accounts for
95% of the public funding. The roles of the funding institutions are similar to Norway and Finland: One
organisation coordinating the major programmes in the strategic research area and modal authorities with
large funding fund for research and development programmes and activities.
In some cases cooperation and clustering of funds for large specific programmes does take place, but in other
cases there are programmes and projects within the same areas funded by different sources. To avoid
overlaps a forum for coordination of transport research TRANSAM has been established amongst the
funding institutions. The aim is to cluster activities and to avoid overlapping research. TRANSAM has been
active for 3-4 years, but still the researchers claim that the situation is confusing with so many funding
institutions which on one hand have no clear division of labour and on the other hand tend to give priority to
the same kind of research and similar research themes.
The important question in regards to the number of research funding bodies and their responsibilites seems to
To overcome the gap between “the traditional way”, where all authorities provide funding for R&D
and “the modern way”, where research is professionally organised in one or few institutions.
To find a clearer division of labour between transport research as a sector responsibility and the
specific R&D activities to solve in house problems of authorities
How many research-funding institutions it is beneficial to have
The size of funding
A substantial difference can be noticed in the average volume of funding for each research activity.
Finland The research funding is split up in small contracts, with the impact that research project seldom get
very deep. The Road Directorate claims that the output from larger projects do not correspond to the major
amount of funding, so measured in output it seems beneficial to provide the funding in small projects. The
rest of the Finish funding does operate with small projects under the umbrella of larger programmes. The
researchers claim that they have to gather funding from different sides to finance a Ph.D. The impact of
small projects is probably more focus on development activities as they generally are easier to manage to get
an expected result with a certain input of work.
Denmark is the other extreme, where the full national transport research funding will in the future be divided
in two parts and each allocated for a research institute. The total funding in Denmark is very limited and the
rationale is to make sure that at least two institutions can develop a critical mass and provide advice and
results for the use of the Ministry of Transport and the Road Directorate.
In Sweden large funds are allocated to Competence centres, which provide funding for a group of researchers
for 5-10 years. Each centre is supported by 0.77 mills Euro per year.
The larger units of funding are more suitable for in depth research, as such research generally needs more
time and is less sure of a certain output after a specific work process. In order to obtain also the long- term
research a part of the funding should be earmarked for this type of research.
The important questions to consider in regards to the size of funding seem to be:
To find a balance between small and larger projects reflecting the desired outcome of research
4.4 The research process and the institutions
The Background for this section is the research institutions and if they have conditions to produce the
research results demanded by the users. What are the strength and weaknesses with the different types of
research organisations and how can a balance be created. Furthermore there will be looked into the research
themes and types of research conducted.
Which research themes have a high priority in the in the Nordic countries is to a certain extend a reflection of
the structure of the industries in the countries. The vehicle industry in Sweden and the IT industry in Finland
set a priority in these countries which is weaker in the other countries, where research for policy support is
highest on the research agenda.
In the table below a comparison of the ongoing research themes is provided. The ongoing research
programmes and projects have been consolidated into areas to be able to compare the priorities. The total
funding for a research activity is not easy to compare between countries, because the sum of funding will
depend of the time perspective of the research. In Sweden several of the major initiatives have a ten year
perspective, which give a huge volume compared to activities in Norway where the project generally have a
time perspective of five years. The figures in the table should therefore be interpreted as an indication of the
priorities. For Denmark and Iceland most funding is an annual budget and in order to make them
comparable, a five year period is included in the total funding. The input for this table is an inventory made
in ERA NET Transport.
The themes of research and the total funding for the ongoing activities (in mills Euros).
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
New motors 25 45
Environment and energy 254-260
Bio fuels 53
Passenger info 41.5
ITS infra- structure 64 11
Infrastructure and the transport
system 86-87 5.6 1.8 1
General policy support 10 2 5
Travel behaviour 0.4
Public transport 0.8
Road 0.8 2.2
Logistics and freight transport 15 34 5.9 1.2
General R&D 5.2 3
Safety 3.6 3.9 7 5 2
Construction and maintenance 30 13
Road users 1 3.15
Soft modes 4.2
General R&D 75-100 2-2.5
Social Aspects 17
Safety and environment 15
General R&D 2 2.5
General R&D 60 1.5
In Sweden there are strong transport research groups at universities covering a broad range of themes and at
the research institute, VTI mainly dealing with the technical issues. The relative large amount of funding for
transport research manages to build critical mass at several types of research institutions.
In Norway and Denmark research institutes are the dominating institutions in transport research and the
universities play a minor role. The difference is that the research institutes in Norway get the major part of
their funding in competition with the universities, which is not the case in Denmark.
In Finland there are both research groups at universities, there is a strong institute, VTT and consultants
participating in transport research. There is, however a very small difference between the activities carried
out at universities and at consulting firms due to the uniform way of organising the calls for proposals.
In most countries there is also in house research at directorates in larger or smaller scale. The advantage is
naturally that the directorates get the research based knowledge in house, which probably make it easier to
implement both own and others research findings. The disadvantage is if the allocation of research funds for
the research departments are in-transparent.
The important questions in regards to researches themes and he size of research organisations seem to be:
To find an adequate balance between the different types of research institutions with their strength
and weaknesses. It is important to ensure a link between research and education of candidates for the
To make sure that the organisation of transport research establishes the desired differences between
universities, research institutes and consultants
4.5 Dissemination of research
This section focuses on how the research is disseminated and on what types of mechanisms are used.
There are limited differences between the efforts to disseminate transport research in the Nordic countries.
All research initiatives have an obligation to disseminate the results and this is generally done by publishing
a report. Most countries host an annual transport conference where results are disseminated to the civil
servants, organisations and other researchers and also conferences and seminars targeted for dissemination to
In Norway the magazine Samferdsel is a very useful tool to disseminate research results and to insure a
knowledge based dialogue on transport policy and transport research. No other country has similar
magazines, although magazines with a more limited and technical focus exist. Also a magazine published by
the Nordic Road Directorates disseminate research results, but with few numbers and articles.
In Sweden the Road Directorate take dissemination onboard right from the start of the research process and
establish groups of interested stakeholders to follow the research process. This is seen as an effective way of
dissemination. It is however mainly a tool to disseminate rather technical issues to also technical oriented
civil servants or stakeholders in industry. For VIONNOVA VTI maintains a database of research results
covering al research institutions.
In Finland all research results can be found at web-sites. This is an easy way to provide the information to all
interested parties, but is probably not enough to make the results well known to the relevant stakeholders. In
parts of the research funding, there is a specific budget for dissemination activities.
In the industry based research not all results are public right from the beginning. The idea of this kind of
research is to give the domestic industry a “push” in the competition, and they should have the advantage of
the results for patents if needed. Apart from this type of research all results from transport research are
The challenge of the dissemination of transport research is to reach the industry and policy level and get an
impact on the transport policy. This is regarded as very difficult in most Nordic countries. In Norway the
researchers feel the policy level are interested in transport research and include some of the findings in the
transport policy. In the other Nordic countries the interest is limited and the distance between the research
process and the transport policy seems long.
The most important questions to insure efficient dissemination of research seem to be:
To find the best available method‟s for dissemination, whether they are: Research conference, web-
sites, reports, popular magazines, invited seminars with politicians, specific articles connecting
research results to policy objectives, involvement of end users in the research process
To insure research results reach the relevant policy levels and industry
4.6 Evaluation of the research process and results
The evaluation process is an important part of the research process in order to gather the experiences both in
terms of the quality of the research and on the quality in the organisation of thre research chain. The
questions have been on the procedures to evaluate the research.
Finland is the only country with fixed procedures for evaluation of research programmes. Evaluations are
carried out 6-12 month before the end of the programme in order to make use of the evaluation in the
In Sweden the Competence Centres have fixed procedures as well, but for the major partof programmes and
projects, only a minor share of the projects is selected for evaluation.
Both in Norway and Denmark the evaluation are not within fixed procedures.
Evaluations of the research institutes are ongoing in all Nordic countries and carried out by international
teams of researchers.
No countries have a regular evaluation of the research management procedures.
The most important questions are:
How to define procedures for evaluations in a way so the results of the evluation can be fed into the
research process and be usefull for the researchers
Can cross country assessments of research management procedures be beneficial
5 Identification of benchmark parameters
In order to highlight how the different ways of organising transport research creates systems with different
strength and weaknesses a number of benchmark parameters have been identified.
The assessment of the strengths and weaknesses are based on the group interviews with all relevant parties in
the research process. The interviews showed a basic agreement amongst the different stakeholders in each
In the following chapter each of the benchmark parameters are presented in tables with a brief explanation of
the intention and interpretation of the specific parameter. As the previous chapters this chapter is structured
along the research chain.
The figures in the tables are rough estimates made by the programme managers from each country. The idea
is not to get very precise figures, but to get a coherent picture of the situation in each country for the
5.1 Identification of research themes
In the first part of the research chain, the important question is how research areas and themes are identified.
Are the procedures transparent, which organisations/institutions are involved and what mechanisms are set
up to ensure that the overall purpose of transport research is fulfilled?
The first table describes in what kind of procedures the research areas are identifies. In most countries
several procedures are used in parallel so the share of funding for each procedure is relevant to compare.
How are the research areas for transport research identified?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
In a formal procedure 55 - 60 - -
In an informal but 10 50 30 - 50
By the funding 30 40 10 50 25
By the research 5 10 - 50 25
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
This next question addresses the coordination when identifying research areas. It is a matter of defined
mechanisms and/or specific institutions that have the responsibility to coordinate and ensure a broad
coverage of the potential research area.
Are there any coordination mechanisms to avoid overlap and ensure that the identified research areas cover a
sufficiently broad field of research?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Yes X X
No X X X
5.2 Organisation of research
The key question is how the procedures for selecting research proposals for funding is organised. This can be
characterised by the share of funding for the three major types of research used in this report: The
strategically managed research, research and development work and basic research. In addition the Swedish
Competence Centres or similar constructions are separated, being a special way of organising research in
large and long term models. The description of there types is given in chapter one.
What is the share of funding for?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Strategically managed 20 60 70 25
Research & 60 35 22 40 60
Basic research 15 5 8 50 15
Competence centres 5 - - - -
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Another characteristic is how large a share of the total funding is organised in transparent procedures.
How large a share of the total funding is managed in the following way?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Transparent procedures 50 50 70 20 60
(open calls, external
In house procedures 20 40 22 - 30
(call for proposals,
internal evaluation and
Closed procedures (no 30 10 8 80 10
calls, negotiation with
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Clustering of funding for larger projects is a tool to coordinate and to involve other partners in the financing
of transport research. The next question is if there is one institution responsible for or actively involved in the
clustering of funding in transport research programmes?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Yes X X
No X X X
Is there a clear division of labour between the different funding institutions, e.g. is it clear what organisations
are funding which themes or types of research?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Yes X X X X X
5.3 Funding of research
The amount of funding for transport research is of course the most essential indicator for comparing the
systems in the Nordic countries. In this comparison one should however be aware that transport research
might not include exactly the same fields in all countries.
How much public funding is earmarked for transport research and what is the total amount of funding spent
on transport research:
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Earmarked public 80 25 18.8 8.3 2
funding in Euro
Total funding – both 160 45 21.5 8.3 2
public and private –
for transport research
Total funding in Euro 18 8.6 4.7 1.6 7
Total funding in 1 0.6 0.3 0.1 -
KEuro per person km
Total funding per mills 0.03 0.01 0.01 0.006 0.01
Euro invested in
Also the size of the funding for each research activity (each contract) shows differences between the
What is the size of funding allocated for each research activities (measured in contracts)?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
More than 1 mill Euro 5 - 12 80 -
0,5 – 1 mill. Euro 10 1 26 - -
0,2 – 0,5 mill Euro 20 10 36 - -
50.000 – 200.000 Euro 40 30 22 10 5
Below 50.000 Euro 25 59 4 10 95
5.4 The research process and the institutions
Different strategies for establishing research environments have been applied in the Nordic countries, which
have a major impact on the situation in transport research. This strategy and the research areas will be
compared in this section.
What is the share of the research carried out at different research institutions (measured in funding)?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Universities 60 20 10 35 10
Public research 10 30 60 45 15
In house research at 5 5 10 10 25
Industry 20 25 15 - 5
Consultants 5 20 5 10 45
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
In order to maintain the research environment, the education of new researchers is an important task. The
number of PhD‟s who have finished the dissertation given as an average over the last three years.
How many Ph.D. candidates have finished per year and per mills Euro spend on transport research:
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Number of finished 1.2 1,5 10 4 -
Ph.d.‟s per year
Number of Ph.D.s 0.015 0.04 0,5 0,5 -
finished per mills Euro
The areas of research are also to be compared between the countries. The first table divides the research in
categories after the orientation towards the end use of the research.
What is the share of funding (measured in the total funding budget) for the following categories of research
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Industry oriented 80 25 25 10 10
Research developing 20 30 10 10 30
immediate policy tools
Research to improve 30 30 30 20
the efficiency of the
Research to improve 10 20 10 -
the understanding of
the transport system
Development of new 5 15 40 10
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Another way of characterising transport research is to look at the different areas of research. What is the
share of research (measured in total funding for research) in each of the following categories?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Decision support tools X 10 20 20 5
Financing tools X 5 10 5 5
Improved techniques 15 15 15 15 25
Information and X 10 15 5 20
Integration, X 15 20 5 -
Intelligent Transport X 20 10 5 10
Land use planning X 5 3 - 5
Pricing and taxation X 5 2 20 10
Regulation/ X 10 5 15 -
Vehicle technology 70 3 - - -
Other X 2 - - -
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
X means less than 5%
A division of research areas in modal shares (measured in total research funding):
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Road transport 77 30 70 70 90
Rail transport 12 10 - 5 -
Maritime transport 4 10 - 10 5
Air transport 2 10 - 5 5
Intermodal transport 5 40 30 10 -
(both freight and
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
5.5 Dissemination of research
The focus on dissemination and the tools used for dissemination may vary between the different countries.
These potential differences are highlighted by the next indicators:
Are there procedures, which make that the end users follow the research process – and in how large a share
of the research is it happening?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Less than 25%
50-75% X X
More than 75% X X
Which tools are used to disseminate the research results (just tick)?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Research conference X X X X X
Web-site X X X X X
Reports X X X X X
Popular magazine X X X X X
Invited seminars X X X X X
Specific dissemination X X
articles and reports
linking research to
Involvement of end X X X X X
users in research
5.6 Evaluation of the research process and results
Evaluations of transport research can be an effective tool to asses if the research activity gave the desired
output. Not all research can be evaluated measured on the outcome alone, as sometimes a “non-result” is a
result in it self. One thing that can be assessed is however whether an evaluation procedure established and if
the evaluation results are used as input for the future research process.
How large a share (measured in total transport research funds) is subject to an evaluation procedure?
Sweden Finland Norway Denmark Iceland
Must undergo a clear 15 25 90 20 15
and cogent evaluation
during and after the
research is carried out
Must follow a clear 15 25 - 50 50
after the research is
Some projects 70 10 5 20 20
/programmes may be
selected for evaluation
No evaluation demand 40 5 10 10
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%