Ports are a major example of hubs' need for modernisation. Ports are essential for the European economy as a global player and for the internal market. They are a main catalyst for regional development and their optimisation and inclusion in the territory is fundamental to ensure that efficient operations will not affect negatively the surrounding areas. Specific issues (like dredging, emission reductions, and energy transition, incl. electrification, smart grids, and the use of renewables management and emissions) are combined with other challenges common to all multi-modal terminals.
Research is needed to implement new port concepts, new management models, and innovative design, engineering, construction and operation technologies solutions for full customer satisfaction. The topic is articulated in two parts:
1) Research and innovation actions should address several of the following aspects:
―Multi-modal optimised cost-effective and flexible operations inside the terminal and in the wider port area. Re-engineering of port operational processes via process analysis and identification of interoperable ICT systems to improve the level of integration among all actors (Port Authorities, terminal operators, shipping companies, customs, security forces, etc.) and facilitate critical decision-making.
―Sustainable maintenance, repair and reconfiguration.
―Better capacity management with reduced costs and land use. Identification of real-time indicators to improve the quality of services provided.
―Low environmental impact, climate change adaptation, and moves towards the circular economy.
―Advanced and efficient links and integration in the socio-economic industrial and urban surrounding environment efficient connections with the hinterland transport network.
―Efficient connections with the hinterland transport network contributing to an increased use of the most energy-efficient transport modes, in particular rail.
Inland waterways and short sea shipping ports deserve particular attention. Proposals should consider the possible transferability of solutions to other ports and multimodal hubs such as rail-freight terminals, inter-ports, airports and dry ports.
2) Coordination and support actions should focus on clustering retained proposals, identifying appropriate KPIs and relevant monitoring and evaluation of results of actions stemming from this call, from other calls of this programme and other ongoing activities in the sector.
In line with the Union's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation[[COM(2012)497]], international cooperation, in particular with Mediterranean and other Neighbouring Partner Countries, is encouraged.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 to 5 million each for Research and Innovation Actions, and up to EUR 1 million for Coordination and Support Actions, would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Actions are expected to result in reduction of environmental impact of port activities, their operational and infrastructural costs, improvement of logistics efficiency and better integration of the port in the surrounding socio-economic area. Realisation of the expected impacts will entail attention to environmental and climate-related concerns.