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Smart Urban Mobility Lab in Curitiba open for business

Yesterday, Theo Toonen, Dean of the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS) at the University of Twente, opened the Smart Urban Mobility Lab (SUM-LAB) in the Brazilian city of Curitiba.

He was also acting on behalf of the university’s Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) and Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC). The research facility in this Brazilian metropolis (which is located near São Paulo) is an initiative of the city of Curitiba, two local universities – the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR), the Federal University of Technology - Paraná (UTFPR) – and the University of Twente.

Challenges in urban mobility

Researchers from each of the partners will work together in the SUM-LAB to formulate the key challenges facing urban mobility in the metropolis of Curitiba. They will also examine ways in which these challenges can best be met. These researchers will cooperate in the context of various studies and in testing innovative mobility solutions, using the city as a Living Lab. The lab is located at the UTFPR.

Maya van den Berg from het Institute for Innovation and Governance Studies (BMS), Prof Karst Geurs van het Centre for Transport Studies (ET) and Dr Anna Grigolon from Urban Planning (ITC) are the initiators from the collaboration. The first steps were taken in 2015, when the University of Twente concluded an agreement with 14 Dutch and Brazilian partners to transform Curitiba into a smarter, more sustainable city.

Since then, researchers and students – representing a range of academic disciplines at the universities involved – have been cooperating in the area of urban development and mobility. In the long run, the researchers want to widen their focus to include other urban projects, such as energy and water.


Curitiba, which is in southern Brazil, is a city with a population of about two million. In Brazil, this city is a pioneer in innovative public transport. It ranks among the leaders in an innovative approach to urban development. Thirty years ago, the city launched a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, offering a high frequency service (every 90 seconds, in some cases) with comfortable and attractive buses. This has resulted in a system that combines high usage with relatively low cost.

However, the BRT system has now reached its maximum capacity, and car use in the city has increased significantly. Making transport even more sustainable is now a high-priority item on the agenda. More innovative and environmental friendly urban mobility is high on the political agenda and the researchers in the SUM-Lab will collaborate in further realising this together with the city of Curitiba.

For more information regarding collaborations and partnerships of the UT in Brazil, contact J.G. (Jelle) Ferwerda, country coordinator for Brazil.

L.P.W. van der Velde (Laurens)
Spokesperson Executive Board (a.i.) / Press officer