Surflogh Research in Action - still in action!

10 February 2021 - Published by Deirdre Buist
Surflogh partners Jonathan Cowie (Edinburgh Napier University) and Keith Fisken (South East of Scotland Transport Partnership - SEStran) are all set for the last stage of primary research centred on identifying viable business models for last mile sustainable deliveries.

During the course of the project, the Scottish research team has built up an extensive database of the research literature on the topic of urban freight logistics. Consequently they outlined and refined the research methodology, and have developed a specific Business Model Canvas to investigate the key commercial and policy driven factors surrounding sustainable last mile logistics.


Dr Jonathan Cowie leads the Surflogh research team

Strong partnership a solid base

“The whole structure of the Surflogh project has been highly conducive to producing good quality research, and in many respects made our job a lot easier!” says Dr Cowie. “We carried out a great deal of the primary research very efficiently during project meetings. The whole structure of the project has provided solid foundations on which to establish a very good working relationships with the project partners. This has been key to undertaking the research element of the project, particularly given the whole premise of our ‘Research in Action’ methodology. It has also enabled us to obtain key insights that very few academics acquire. We already have around three to four scientific articles in preparation in order to publish our findings to the wider academic community, and hence make a major contribution to the research literature surrounding last mile logistics.”

Significant positive contributions

The research has already identified a strong eagerness to move more goods by sustainable means as well as evidence that consolidation is currently being undertaken successfully by operators like Zedify. The time is ripe to exploit the current willingness by exploring opportunities to enhance and introduce infrastructure that will facilitate modal shift. This can be done in conjunction with the further development of consolidation facilities that enable multiple loads to be transported on the ‘last mile’ by a single vehicle or cycle logistics. SEStran’s Keith Fisken explains: “Innovative initiatives - like our partnerships within SURFLOGH - have the potential to not only make a significant positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of those who live in our communities but also to economic growth and the enhancement of public spaces.”

Final in-depth interviews

The final stage of the research involves carrying out online in-depth key informant interviews with all of the main stakeholders in the Surflogh project pilots. The research team have all the completed business model canvasses from each pilot and the interviews will draw out the key issues that have emerged from the analysis undertaken of each canvass. This should allow the final drafts of the case studies for each pilot to be completed, as well as completion of other research outputs in the form of scientific papers. Dr Cowie adds: “We have been very fortunate, as a lot of the research work simply developed as the project proceeded. So, whilst the ongoing pandemic restrictions have been very limiting for everyone, the strong working relationships built up in the earlier part of the project have proved to be invaluable and allowed us to proceed with the research with only a few very minor adjustments.”

All of the interviews should be completed by the middle of April, with the case studies to be published on the Surflogh website in May. As for now, research in action is still in action…


Partners Keith Fisken & Jeroen Berends in action  at the Good Goods Boras Pilot. The research continues – no matter the conditions!


*With thanks to Jonathan Cowie & Keith Fisken for their contributions.