The EU’s Europe 2020 Strategy, for a resource-efficient Europe presents a vision for a low carbon, resource-efficient, secure and competitive mobility system by 2050 (to update with more recent policies- targets) that removes all obstacles to the internal market for transport, promotes clean technologies and modernises transport networks. There is clearly an opportunity for businesses – including SMEs – to develop innovative products and services in this area. However, at present there is a clear market failure within the transport sector; the rigid value chain is currently stifling innovations being developed by smaller companies and introduced into new vehicles and transport-related products. The SMEs (usually Tier 2 suppliers) find it difficult to interact with the larger vehicle manufacturers. These larger manufacturers generally have short-term supply contracts to Tier 1 companies, who are strongly linked to specific large volume OEMs, particularly in the automotive and aerospace sector. The Tier 2 companies have no collective voice or influence at European level nor adequate opportunities for innovation development and deployment.

At a time of public budget constraints, major demographic changes, and increasing global competition, Europe’s competitiveness, the capacity to create millions of new jobs to replace those lost during the current economic and financial crisis after COVID-19, and, overall, to maintain our existing and future standard of living, depends on our ability to drive innovation across multiple interconnected systems and networks. This is why innovation has been placed at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy. The ongoing trends and future challenges point to the need for satisfying rising demand for travel or accessibility in the context of growing sustainability concerns and socioeconomic changes.1 There is an urgent   need   to   take   a   holistic   perspective   and   move from traditional approaches to innovation to a systems innovation approach by incorporating a variety of actors and reducing the innovation divide in Europe. Empirical evidence derived from OECD2 shows that: i) innovation networks and systems follow varied development paths; ii) heterogeneity can sometimes be more pronounced within countries than between countries; iii) while R&D and patenting are mostly concentrated in key regions in top OECD innovative countries, new regions are emerging as knowledge hubs; iv) regional collaboration and networks are becoming increasingly relevant for innovation; v) firms carry out both technological innovations (new products and processes) and non-technological innovations (such as new business models and organisational methods); and vi) design and creative industries are strongly shaped by regional factors and are vital for regional competitiveness. An important stakeholder of the innovation chain is SMEs. SMEs currently employ 55% of the EU workforce in transport and mobility, and their important role in the value chain is expected to expand.

INNO-MOB will address this failure and focus on the opportunities that initiatives and networks offer to innovative and dynamic businesses through an inclusive mobility innovation European ecosystem business support framework. The emerging (sustainable) mobility market will be used as the vehicle to examine the opportunities provided and develop mechanisms to support the deployment potential of companies in bringing innovations to the market quickly.