Project SPROUT: The new urban blueprint for sustainable mobility

sustainable mobility, SPROUT

We spoke with Dr Teresa de la Cruz, Project Manager at Zaragoza Logistics Center and Dr Georgia Ayfantopoulou, Research Director, Deputy Director Hellenic Institute of Transport, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, about their work to create a universal set of policies for sustainable mobility

The EU has promised climate neutrality by 2050. You have another 2 years of the SPROUT Project, so what will you do to help deliver on that?

Georgia: “The SPROUT project is about innovation and sustainability in mobility of the cities. We serve the goals of climate neutrality not only by promoting the implementation and the use of sustainable innovative mobility solutions but also by speeding up the impact that these solutions can achieve at the level of climate neutrality. “SPROUT examines how to make the city capable of maximising the impact of these solutions. This is what we call “the city policy response”, which will help to achieve climate neutrality.

“Strengthening Innovation adoption is considered as the multiplier to achieve the expected impact of sustainable mobility in cities and support the changes we need towards climate neutral cities.”

Can you see any significant differences between the pilot cities or regions?

Teresa: “In the case of the SPROUT cities, they were selected to cover different types of mobility solutions. They are mobility solutions focused on freight, other solutions focus on passengers, then mixed passenger and freight transport. Also, all of the cities are medium sized. We looked for variety. The final goal of the project is to widen the policy response, not only for policies to be applicable to SPROUT cities. To cover all European cities, to establish connections with the States and with China.

“At the end of the day it is one planet. When we discuss environmental issues, environment is for all of us.”

“At the end of the day it is one planet. When we discuss environmental issues, environment is for all of us.”

Georgia: “There are partners in Minneapolis, the US. A very representative group of cities are following the project results and activities. We see among the cities different levels of readiness to adopt solutions and conditions for strengthening speed of adoption and impact maximisation.

“For example, Tel Aviv, is a pilot city with very advanced innovation adoption. We see solutions being easily taken up and implemented. Then we have cities like Padua, where we have a very supportive ecosystem of tech and research actors continuously stimulating the city’s decision to go towards autonomous automated vehicles. That was the idea, to have small and medium sized cities, to represent the different situations that can occur. To study the way innovative mobility solutions can be taken up and generalised through the appropriate city’s policy response.”

Teresa: “We are extremely lucky in the SPROUT project, because we have 40 cities involved in the project. We have the first layer of cities, the six pilot cities, that are testing the solutions and we produce city-specific policy responses, then we have a second layer of nine cities, which are going to validate the results of the pilots, and to enrich the policies, but then we have a third layer of cities. We share results with them, and we also ask them for information about their cities – they enrich the results of the project. In total, we have 15 partner cities, but there is a pool of 40 cities in SPROUT.”

Are you predicting any obstacles to the implementation of this work?

Teresa: “We are facing some obstacles that we feel sure we’ll be able to solve. Initially there is a lack of data in the cities, especially regarding urban freight in the cities. Obviously with new mobility solutions, there is a lack of data – because those solutions have been running in general for a shorter period of time, compared to other solutions that have been running for decades – but that’s normal.”

Georgia: “The cities engaged in the pilots are fully committed to implementing. They are very brave in pushing further. The lack of data is an obstacle for a) efficiently assessing the impact of the solutions and b) allowing for new added value creation and finally for creating the arguments we need for dedicated policy responses. We know this is happening in most European cities, it could be considered a particularly European problem – since in some other regions of the globe, data is more easily available.”

“It was difficult work, but somehow from the beginning, we didn’t have to convince them. We had to find them.”

Teresa: “It was difficult work, but somehow from the beginning, we didn’t have to convince them. We had to find them. Even though COVID, they continue and go on, still have those implementations and agendas. It hasn’t changed.”

When solutions are in place, do you think community habits will adapt to them?

Teresa: “That is indeed something we are trying to measure now. We are implementing mobility solutions, and one of the aspects that we are looking at is the user acceptance. Because at the end of the day, if the solution is not accepted by the final user – in this case the citizens, or in the case of freight mobility, the operator – it’s not going to work, right?”

Georgia: “There are three main categories of implementation of measures that we have. We have pilots that are focusing a lot on mobility solutions, to have the citizens in the centre of services.

“Then we have technologies enabling the better management of the system, and the reduced environmental impact. In that sense, the case of Tel Aviv belongs to this second category, since they are adopting tech that better manages traffic, and improving conditions for vulnerable users.

“The third category is the very high-tech emerging solutions, like autonomous automated vehicles. There are a lot of things to understand regarding level of acceptance, then safety and security in the solutions. This is part of the assessment that we are implementing.

“We need to secure that what we will offer to the people, is in accordance with their particular needs. This dimension is covered as we assess the impact to the community of the users.”

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 814910.

*Please note: This is a commercial profile

Contributor Profile

Project Manager
Zaragoza Logistics Center
Website: Visit Website

Contributor Profile

Research Director, Deputy Director
Hellenic Institute of Transport, Cente for Research and Technology Hellas
Website: Visit Website


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here