VREF, Volvo Research and Educational Foundations, is the collective name under which four foundations collaborate to finance research and education in the areas of transport, environment and energy. Since the turn of the Century the VREF has focused on Future Urban Transport (FUT) with the subtitle “How to deal with complexity.” The foundations are endowed and legally independent under Swedish law.
The mission of the FUT program is to contribute to new ideas and solutions within the complex structures responsible for the design of sustainable transport systems in big cities. The challenge is to develop urban transport systems that provide access for all the citizens, contribute to economic development and at the same time radically reduce transport’s negative local, regional and global environmental impacts.
FUT is currently comprised of eight Centres of Excellence, CoE, in six regions of the world: New Delhi, Berkeley, New York/Nairobi, Beijing, Melbourne, London, Cape Town and Santiago de Chile. The next CoE is scheduled to start during 2013 in the area of urban freight. Two more initiatives are under preparation: Financing Urban Access and the role of political leadership in the transformation of urban transport. The CoEs are primarily engaged in applied research, dissemination and communication of research results and education. The VREF also organizes annual conferences for all the CoE’s for mutual exchange of ideas and work in progress. VREF has also funded a number of projects, conferences and other events, often linked to the CoE network.
VREF is governed by a Board and a Scientific Council. The Board decides on activities to be financed, formulates VREF policy and guidelines, and is responsible for long-term asset management. The Scientific Council is responsible for evaluating the scientific quality of both the applications that are submitted to VREF and the ongoing work that is carried out.