The Business Models in Action research is ready

23 November 2022 - Published by Deirdre Buist
In case you missed it, the final version of ‘Business Models in Action’ is now available on the project’s website. This valuable research document has been developed during the course of SURFLOGH by our Scottish partners, in close cooperation with the consortium. They have built up an extensive database of research literature on the topic of urban freight logistics and outlined and refined their methodology. A specific Business Model Canvas was developed to investigate the key commercial and policy-driven factors surrounding sustainable last mile logistics.

One of the key lessons learned from the first phase of the Surflogh project was the importance of policy interventions and actions in creating a conducive business environment in order to facilitate green last mile logistics in a commercial sense. The Surflogh Business Model Canvas  recognized this importance and hence the policy element was included in the overall framework. 

Assessing policy framework

As part of the 18-month SURFLOFGH  extension, SEStran and Edinburgh Napier University TRI were consequently tasked with assessing the policy framework in each of the partner cities. The team agreed to use  the business model insights gained from previous cases to develop innovation pilots and attempt to establish a relationship between the (commercial) success of these initiatives and the prevailing policy framework.

Research approach

Dr Jonathan Cowie,  lecturer in Transport Economics and programme leader of the MSc in Transport Planning and Engineering at Napier, has presented this research at a number of  international conferences on sustainable transport and logistics. He describes the approach taken: “We carried out an extensive literature review on the role and effectiveness of policy in the area of urban freight transport (UFT) and then complemented this by constructing a theoretical framework based on  a city’s level of UFT policy ‘maturity’. Then we held a series of in-depth interviews with the SURFLOGH partners, applying the framework to each partner city.”


Dr Jonathan Cowie of Edinburgh Napier University TRI 

Results & ratings

The results showed that all partner cities had medium to low levels of UFT policy maturity. Groningen scored the highest (rated at a medium level, termed ‘policy focus’), and Edinburgh the lowest (low maturity, termed ‘pure market’). “The success of the pilots was evaluated through a Delphi panel workshop where the rating criteria to be used was discussed and agreed, immediately followed up with face-to-face interviews with each pilot sponsor,” Dr Cowie  continues.

Policy maturity & actions

According to Jonathan the results show no association between UFT policy maturity and the success of the pilot. "This strongly suggests that at lower levels of policy maturity, the success of any freight-related policy initiative is more likely to depend on situational factors outside the policy environment. As a consequence, the instigation of meaningful policy actions possibly only start at high levels of UFT policy maturity, specifically identified in the research as levels four (policy aspirant) and five (pro-active)."

Interested in reading more? You can access the full report here.

Business Models in Action: Policy Frameworks and Interventions