A new initiative launched to “mobilise Europe!”

22 MARCH 2012

The European Mobile and Mobility Industries Alliance (EMMIA) was officially launched on 8 March at an event in Brussels. Around 100 representatives from the GALILEO and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) communities, European venture capital specialists, ICT and cultural tourism stakeholders came together with national and regional policy makers to celebrate this new initiative which will develop more sustainable solutions in the field of mobility supported by mobile services, through better use of current and planned initiatives and enhancing transnational cooperation in this field.

In his opening address, Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry, Antti Peltomäki, pointed out that while

“… technological leadership is important … it cannot stand alone. Value has to be added. This means that it is not possible to promote mobile services through research projects only. What is needed is a combination of technological innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Without entrepreneurship, innovation will not be turned into industrial leadership.” and he concluded that “… the large-scale demonstrator approach pursued by the Alliance is about smart, sustainable and inclusive regional strategies that take full advantage of the new technologies offered by Galileo and GMES to realise their economic potential not only at home but also by integrating global value chains.”

Mr Peltomäki then pressed the ‘red button’ to bring the Alliance web portal at Mobilise-europe.eu online.

The event brought together, for the first time, the 31 partner organisations from 14 countries and 4 European organisations that form the core of the European Mobile and Mobility Industries Alliance (EMMIA). This new policy initiative is an open platform that combines policy learning with 5 pilot actions in the areas of large-scale demonstrators in support of sustainable tourism in rural areas and access to finance as well as an action to improve the interoperability of mobile services, in order to develop and test better policies and tools for supporting mobile services. The initiative has been set up by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry with the objective of shaping a community in Europe that actively supports the mobile and mobility industries, i.e. mobile services that provide solutions that facilitate the mobility of goods and people, as drivers of competitiveness, job creation and structural change.

The event was focused around the expectations and challenges for EMMIA overall and for each of its actions. From the perspective of GALILEO and GMES, Michel Bosco of DG Enterprise and Industry’s Unit for EU Satellite Navigation Programmes highlighted that “…EMMIA can help produce innovative, new products and services using GNSS data combined with GMES earth observation” and that in its second phase EMMIA would specifically support “innovation voucher schemes and large-scale, innovative services based on GMES and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to address specific societal challenges or to facilitate the emergence of new industries in European regions and cities.”

Lisbeth Bahl Poulsen of DG Enterprise and Industry’s Support for Industrial Innovation Unit stressed that the Commission was ambitious in its expectations of EMMIA and that there was only one key indicator, namely the leveraging of at least €30 million in additional public and private funding. In line with this, the Policy Learning Platform that will be set up to foster policy dialogue on designing better industrial and innovation strategies, should not be “just another talk shop” but an “alliance of committed policy makers with the ambition to change their region or city building on new mobile services”.

In his reply, Jürgen Vogel of bavAIRia, coordinator of the EMMIA Policy Learning Platform, announced that the Call for expression of interest for members of the Policy Learning Platform was now online (deadline 6 April 2012) and that it was specifically addressed to those regions and cities that actively support or want to support mobile and mobility industries as a matter of strategic choice or priority. The Policy Learning Platform would seek to involve the most experienced and committed “movers and shakers” in this field while, at the same time, be open towards the wider stakeholder community.

With respect to the large-scale demonstrators, Reinhard Büscher, Head of the Support for Industrial Innovation Unit, reminded the audience that these are not just projects but real-life test beds that require strong support from all stakeholders to produce tangible and scalable results that demonstrate the transformative power of service innovation.

“Large-scale demonstrators should demonstrate more than the market replicability of technical solutions. They should also demonstrate the need for structural and institutional reforms that improve the framework conditions for service innovations in general. This presents the new challenge of resilience that is to try and try again and never give up.”

Anthony Wiles of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, ETSI, set out how ETSI would support the EMMIA large-scale demonstrators with interoperability testing in order to facilitate the development of pan-European services, and he welcomed the challenges this posed for ETSI in terms of not testing a standard but rather “proof of smooth interoperable service” and the need for “on the road testing”, speculating that his team might have to walk or bike along the Via Claudia Augusta with their testing equipment on their backs.

The challenge for mobile service companies is “going glocal”, said Alex Talacchi of the Support for Industrial Innovation Unit: successfully bringing local content and services to the global market requires capital, but mobile service companies are often not investor ready while business angels and venture capital funds are reluctant to invest in ‘intangibles’. New, innovative ways of “bridging the funding gap” by, for instance, combining public and private investment funds or providing access to non-specialised funds would need to be found.

The last presentation of the event was dedicated to the upcoming call for proposals for the second phase of EMMIA focussing on supporting GNSS and GMES based services. Clement Williamson of the GMES Bureau at DG Enterprise and Industry explained that one strand would co-fund voucher schemes that either directly support service companies or stimulate demand for their services by other sectors. The second strand would support large-scale demonstrators providing regions with a tool to better link all public and private actors, in order to address specific challenges and problems by finding solutions and creating entrepreneurial opportunities based on GNSS and GMES. The call is expected to be published before the end of March.

In his closing remarks, Reinhard Büscher, expressed the hope that EMMIA would act as a “melting pot” between the different communities of technology experts, business, finance and culture that would all be needed to build strong mobile industries in Europe that take full advantage of the European investments in Galileo, GMSS and EGNOS.

“Mobile industries are among the most dynamic emerging industries and this offers great potential, in particular for those Member States and regions that need to strengthen their competitive position in global markets as soon as possible in order to offer their citizens better future perspectives.”