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CERTAIN Slovenian National Workshop: Research projects in the field of road transport in need for more financial support from the state

The Slovenian CERTAIN seminar finished successfully on May 7. It focused on the presentation of results from EU co-funded projects in the field of road infrastructure. It was organized by ZAG Ljubljana, the coordinator of CERTAIN. The seminar was held in Bled as one of the 6 similar events performed in mother languages of the hosting country. Most presentations were held in Slovenian language (with two of them in Croatian and one in Serbian) and were intended for to the non-expert public. (more)

The topics ranged from responses of researchers to the current road infrastructure problems to the future perspectives in road transport, such as intelligent roads. Delegates from research institutes, government bodies and industry have agreed that Slovenia is one of the most successful New Member States in acquiring road-infrastructure-related projects funded from the Framework Programmes of the European Commission. Yet, the state should promote research and development also when it comes to providing financial support. Speakers during the opening session emphasised that difficulties in acquiring research funds from the EC often arise during the application stage already, as the high co-financing of work is a considerable set-back for the potential partners from the industry.continuation of Press release...

The seminar mostly highlighted results obtained through two projects – SPENS and ARCHES, which, together with CERTAIN, form a cluster of projects, focused on NMS and Candidate Countries of the EU. The cluster’s total budget is almost 7 million EUR. The primary goal of CERTAIN is to promote and disseminate findings and results from these projects among end-users, emphasized Aleš Žnidarič, CERTAIN project coordinator, in his opening speech. Mr. Žnidarič also presented a web tool called Fehrlopedia which was developed to provide more efficient and targeted search for road infrastructure related knowledge on the web.

In Slovenia, the field of civil engineering research is very intensive and successful, however, not enough has been done to promote and spread the results among the general public and end-users, said Gregor Ficko, director of the Slovenian Roads Agency during the plenary session. Jana Kolar, director of the Directorate for Higher Education at the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, emphasized the significance of state-provided administrative support which the applicants need: “Slovenian coordinators need the state to provide the necessary technical administrative support during the implementation of the projects. With this in mind, in 2009, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology is planning an intensification of activities at national contact points (NCP’s) and several project training workshops which will provide the participants with the skills for a successful application to EC projects.”

Fourteen other research projects and their findings were presented during the two-day seminar. ZAG Ljubljana and other Slovenian partners contributed to all and coordinated three of them. Twenty-three speakers from Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia presented their work during the seminar, which welcomed 92 delegates from consultancies, industry, government bodies, research institutes, and students of civil engineering. The seminar in Slovenia was the fourth in the series of similar events which have already taken place or are going to be organized in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, and Ukraine. Their primary objective is to gather the highest possible number of experts, who are able to communicate in the same language, and disseminate results of European research. They are organised as a response to the fact that unfortunately NMS and CEEC still face the problem of poor English language skills, which prevents the results from reaching their targeted audience, consisting in regulators, administrative bodies, contractors, the industry, traffic participants, and researchers.

SPENS and ARCHES – a brief description

SPENS is coordinated by ZAG Ljubljana. The overall objective is to search for materials and technologies for road pavement construction and rehabilitation that would behave satisfactorily in a typical climate, have an acceptable environmental impact, be easy to incorporate within existing technologies, be cost-effective and easy to maintain. Mojca Ravnikar Turk (ZAG), coordinator of SPENS: “Based on the findings from our investigations during the project’s duration, several guidelines for the use of advanced materials and methods in the field of road pavement construction, assessment of the condition and impact of road infrastructure on the environment have been drawn up. For a sustainable development, however, these findings need to be implemented in the everyday civil engineering practice. The final reports will be fully presented and discussed at the SPENS final seminar, which will take place on August 27 and 28 in Ljubljana." 

The overall goal of ARCHES is to develop more appropriate tools and procedures for the prevention of unnecessary interventions/replacements in structures, to prevent the development of corrosion, to develop new materials and techniques of a less expensive, more effective and long-lasting repair or strengthening of damaged structures. Aljoša Šajna, ARCHES work package leader (ZAG): “Events like this contribute significantly to the knowledge transfer from researchers to end-users. The knowledge, of course, has been acquired through participation in research projects.”