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SWP2.2 | IWT innovation expert group


Although many different research and development activities have taken place in the field of inland navigation, systematic collection and dissemination of research results is currently lacking. Knowledge on fleet innovations, transhipment equipment and new logistics concepts is dispersed over many different sources. This results in inefficiencies in the development of new technologies, increased development efforts and a limited market transfer of research results.


This Sub-Work Package will detect and gather existing research results and innovations that might contribute to an improved economic, safety and environmental performance of IWT. The IWT innovation expert group will act as an interface between market demand on the one hand and the need for further and future R&D activities on the other. This will involve:

  • disseminate knowledge of innovations in the field of inland navigation via the PLATINA information services;
  • raise visibility of inland navigation on strategic research agendas;
  • identify and formulate future research demands.

Description of work

The members of the innovation expert group consist of technical, logistical and organisational experts from within the PLATINA consortium as well as experts from the IWT sector, research institutions as well as administrations. Preliminary investigations are undertaken by the expert group to identify existing (inter)national innovation schemes, relevant research activities and existing innovations related to IWT.

PLATINA prepares and runs an extended database on technology projects and innovative logistics projects with a high usability for organisations and companies of the sector, providing a sound knowledge base for the transfer of know-how. This not only includes technological innovations, but organisational concepts as well.

Analysing the IWT innovation database helps to identify gaps in research and development. This Sub-Work Package involves a technology forecast and outlook, i.e., an analysis of the future demand for innovations in the field of inland navigation. The results of these analyses contributes to a specific IWT Strategic Research Agenda. The IWT-SRA determines the needs and directions of future research activities. A strong link with the WATERBORNE Technology Platform will be established.

Achievements January-May 2011

The first and the second expert group meeting took place in Duisburg on 27-28.05.2009 and 25.06.2010. The two main topics discussed were the Innovation Database and the Strategic Research Agenda. After the meetings and during the construction of the Strategic Research Agenda and the Innovation Database, the experts have been regularly consulted in order to obtain their opinion when important stages were reached.

The aim of the PLATINA Innovation Database is to efficiently and easily disseminate innovation knowledge. After validation by EC, the wiki-based approach was chosen in order to create a freely accessible database to speed up contacts between project owners and market parties. The provisional database contains 50 samples and was launched in the end of November 2009. Now that the database has been built and has reached a good launch mass of innovations the most important thing to realise to be successful is to do a good promotion campaign. As the database is a free-structure and depends on the contribution of external users, it is important that the database becomes well-known throughout the professional and research community. The database is available on www.naiades.info/innovations

The Strategic Research Agenda has been discussed at the Expert Group meeting in Duisburg last May 2009. The structure of the SRA, as well as its contents, has been approved by the experts. The agenda identifies major research fields in 3 major pillars: ‘strengthening of competitiveness’, ‘environmental sustainability’ and ‘Matching growth and changing trade patterns’. For all those fields, in order to give a better idea to national and European authorities on the state and relevance of the innovations, the partners indicate research demand and expected research outcome.

In order to disseminate the content of the SRA, the SRA was updated and released in March 2011. Most of the content remains unchanged, new research topics such as “innovative and flexible logistic approaches” have been added in order to take into account the importance of the logistic chain and the transhipment innovation fields into the Strategic Research Agenda. Moreover, some expected research outcomes have been added or modified. The main modification is that a new layout has been realised to disseminate a layout version of the SRA II.

Sub-Work Package leader biography

Berthold Holtmann (Head of Transport Systems Department) has a master's degree in civil engineering with a focus on traffic engineering from the Technical University of Aachen (Germany). He has extensive experience concerning the network of the European inland navigation sector through national and international project activities including policy consulting, (e.g. PINE, SPIN-TN). Berthold has also been involved in assessment of climate change impacts on inland waterway transport (e.g. KLIWAS and ECCONET) and developing concepts and strategies to increase the competitiveness of waterborne transport solutions; economic impacts of inland ports. Berthold’s other experience includes traffic planning and consulting in public transport. He is a native speaker of German and fluent in English with a basic knowledge of Spanish.

3 questions to Berthold Holtmann

  • What do you like most about your work?
    Great variety of different tasks, both national and international projects and contacts, international flair of the inland waterway sector

  • If you could have one wish for inland navigation, what would it be?
    Equal conditions of competition both intermodal (between different modes of transport) and intramodal (within the mode of IWT but between (operators of) different countries). (To overcome distortions of competition.)

  • What does PLATINA do for you?
    It gives me the ability to have a broader perspective, i.e. to open new horizons by sophisticated tasks within an international context