Of the various ways that R&D&i can be developed, open innovation has been and continues to be that which best explains the collaboration processes that are rewriting the history of scientific and technological advances, and how these have been transferred to the production sector. The world advances and changes, overcoming challenges with new products, services and processes through incremental or disruptive innovation.
In the field of mobility, which encompasses not only transport, but other complementary aspects such as energy, sustainable development and security, collaboration goes back a long way. The automobile industry progressed rapidly in the 1950s, in which the production and sale of private vehicles became widespread, due largely to the research developed in universities and research centres. Currently, the automobile industry is immersed in the greatest transformation in its over 100-year history.
In the twenty-first century, the evolution of this collaborative model is called CARNET, an initiative promoted by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) along with SEAT and Volkswagen Group Research to advance in mobility in its broadest sense, by combining the resources and experience of companies with the knowledge of the university. This project was forged on the back of collaboration that already existed between the UPC and SEAT through the SEAT Chair. Subsequently, in the spirit of open innovation, other stakeholders from various sectors joined CARNET and shared their capabilities, and the multiplying effect has led to benefits resulting from this cooperation. These partners include Altran, Applus + Idiada, Ficosa, PTV Group, RACC and Rucker Lypsa, and the necessary collaboration with Barcelona City Council.
The result is an open network, in which all contribute what they can, and obtain results that would be difficult to obtain individually: CARNET is more than the sum of all its partners. Together, the partners contribute to enhancing mobility in our cities, by increasing sustainability and efficiency.
CARNET’s activity is focused on three main areas: collaborative research; training and talent; and the creation of a network for collaboration and exchange of knowledge and experience. The development of R&D projects, such as the Virtual Mobility Lab, helps to develop innovation-based solutions for structural problems, and construct tools that enable better planning of mobility in our cities. Activities like the Autonomous Driving Challenge, a competition on autonomous vehicle programming, have enabled us to promote talent in an innovative and attractive way.
After almost two years of work and proven activity, this cooperation is beginning to give results. Evidence of this is the National Award for Public-Private Partnership in Research and Innovation 2017, given to Carnet by the Catalan Research Foundation, with the support of the Government of Catalonia. The award recognises this pioneering model of collaboration-based innovation.
The award provides considerable support for CARNET. Although CARNET has been in operation for such a short time, it is becoming a leader in a sector that is on the brink of major, rapid changes. Artificial intelligence, urban planning, the connected car, car sharing, and autonomous driving are concepts that we are taking advantage of to face the complex future that awaits us.
Challenges are on the way that will change our cities and our lives in them. CARNET is an instrument that contributes actively to the joint creation of cities that are more accessible, more sustainable, and easier to live in.
For more information about CARNET, its work model, and the result of this collaboration, see www.carnetbarcelona.com