Dec 4, 2019
The Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) promotes innovative Living Lab approaches as part of the Mobility of the Future programme. Five Urban Mobility Labs (UMLs) and one Mobility Transformation Lab in Austria support innovation projects with a variety of services ranging from creative methods to experimental spaces. The aim is to accelerate the process from idea to implementation.
AustriaTech is the national contact point of the initiative and accompanies the implementation process of the laboratories. Lina Mosshammer and Doris Wiederwald take over this task and give an insight into the work with the laboratories.
How often are you on the road for the Urban Mobility Laboratories (UMLs) in Austria? What exactly is your commitment?
Wiederwald: We organise networking meetings with all Urban Mobility Labs and the Mobility Transformation Lab every six months, and this is especially about the exchange between the laboratories. The meetings always take place at a different laboratory. In addition, we regularly participate in internal core group meetings of the laboratories in order to gain a better insight. Furthermore, there are joint public appearances, whether at exhibitions or conferences. Nationally, we also involve the UMLs in the events of the "Mobility of the Future" programme, such as the MatchMaking events for new projects.
Mosshammer: In the run-up to the networking meetings we organise, we evaluate which topics are currently relevant, which activities the UMLs are working on, and in which areas they will focus. For this purpose there is an agenda with various topics, which is developed in coordination with the BMVIT. We also organise joint workshops. This year, for example, there were the CIVITAS Forum Conference and the ENoLL-Open Living Lab Days. The workshops serve dissemination, networking and further education. With the broad pool of experts for creative methods we receive a lot of constructive feedback and can take valuable learnings with us to our own methodology.
The UMLs offer many services, which are their methodological approaches to support innovation projects?
Mosshammer: Different. At the CIVITAS Forum Conference and the Open Living Lab Days, the UMLs gave an insight into the range of their workshop methods. The thinkport VIENNA and the MOBILITY LAB Graz each held a workshop with "Lego Serious Play". This is a separate Lego version to visualise ideas and concepts in creative formats. The MobiLab OÖ presented its own toolkit with shapes and figures for design thinking processes and the Aspern.mobil Lab presented its specially designed "Seestadt Design Game". There are many different approaches with which ideas can be formed into real concepts and models. This application-oriented character distinguishes the mobility laboratories.
Which highlights have you already experienced with the UMLs?
Wiederwald: An overall success is the fact that Austria is one of the first countries to use practically oriented laboratories of this kind in the transport sector. We are seeing big international interest.
Mosshammer: We were able to regularly invite national and international experts to our meetings in order to dare to think outside the box and establish international contacts. Among them were the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and the ITS Factory from Tampere (Finland). We are very interested in further developing our laboratories and passing on our learning on a national and international level.
So the initiative is a best practice example in Europe?
Wiederwald: Yes, the interest of many laboratories in Europe is great. But a certain success has also been achieved internally. In the early days of the mobility laboratories, a lot of development work was necessary. In the meantime, the first results and successful implementations can be seen.
Mosshammer: From our experience, we can say that some projects were only created and implemented by the laboratories. That is certainly a success.
Wiederwald: One of these projects is, for example, HUBERT. Some representatives of thinkport VIENNA and the City of Vienna have formed a separate, agile team as a startup and jointly developed a logistics hub for Vienna. Hence the name HUBert. It is a new delivery service for business and commercial enterprises in Vienna. Goods are bundled on the outskirts of the city and distributed to the city centre with environmentally friendly vehicles.
Are there any other highlights that you will remember?
Mosshammer: The freight bike journeys. The cycle summit takes place once a year, last year it was in Salzburg and this year in Graz. Together with the UMLs we went to the bike summits with freight bikes and e-bikes. In addition to the laboratories, representatives of the BMVIT and external experts and interested parties were present. This year's ride was much more relaxed. No rain, no snow, no lightning. The first bike trip was a bit more turbulent. We were hit by thunderstorms and power cuts. We also documented the trip on social media and in our blog. With the trip we wanted to demonstrate what is possible with freight bikes. In order to advance sustainable mobility, you first have to live it yourself.
Do you still have a personal wish regarding the UMLs?
Wiederwald: I would like the idea of mobility laboratories to spread to other cities and regions.
Mosshammer: I can only agree. In addition, it is very important to us that all labs continue to exist and offer added value for society. I would find it a pity if the laboratories ended after these four successful years.
Thank you very much for the interview.