Saying it is seeking innovative solutions for urban logistics patterns rapidly becoming clogged by soaring e-commerce volumes, a Dutch private equity firm has invested $295 million to create a 30-acre research center in Amsterdam that allows delivery partners to collaborate on new approaches.
The project by Netherlands-based Somerset Capital Partners and the real estate firm Bohemen B.V. will create a City Logistics Innovation Campus (CLIC) where researchers will have a mission of improving the quality-of-life in cities by reducing emissions, noise pollution, and vehicle movements.
The new campus will be located on the edge of the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, near Schiphol international airport, where companies from various sectors, knowledge and educational institutions, and government bodies from the Netherlands, Europe, and the rest of the world can use the “logistics hotspot” as a base for collaboration. The developers hope that CLIC will function as an incubator and test site for dozens of diverse organizations, including food companies, technical service providers, delivery specialists, modern platform companies, and providers of logistics equipment and services such as automobiles, information technology, energy, and manufacturing.
According to the partners, CLIC will serve as a hotbed for everything that has to do with rethinking and reinventing how goods are delivered in cities. Creative strategies could include: combining goods flows, deploying an electrically powered “green fleet” for deliveries, intelligent stockpiling strategies, sustainable packaging, and efficiently processing return flows for everyone from online supermarkets to other companies, building sites, and package delivery & meal delivery services.
The initiative is necessary because the rapid growth of urban populations and the rapidly increasing rise in goods deliveries are leading to major congestion problems in cities all over the world, Somerset said. That trend has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, causing the number of deliveries for online orders to rise sharply and trigger a corresponding jump in the scale of vehicle movements, emissions, and noise pollution. And e-commerce shoppers themselves are also accelerating the challenges, as they become increasingly demanding about expectations for delivery speed, cost, exact time and location, and sustainability, Somerset said.
“90% of the delivery traffic here comes from outside the city, and the companies where it comes from are also widely distributed,” Walther Ploos van Amstel, professor in City Logistics at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, said in a release. “The strength of CLIC is that it will soon be possible to bundle the capacity. In fact, there will soon be a major shortage of suitable space for the right kind of urban logistics activities at the edge of the city. Without this space, it will not be possible to bundle goods flows or to even enter the city with electric vehicles or cargo bikes. If nothing is done, it will simply become too expensive for companies to continue making deliveries in the city.”
Solutions will rely on close collaboration between international business partners, such as the Alliance for Logistics Innovation through Collaboration in Europe (ALICE), a Brussels-based organization that aims to develop “a comprehensive strategy for research, innovation and market deployment of logistics and supply chain management innovation in Europe.” CLIC is designed to facilitate that research and enable relevant parties to combine goods flows, resulting in faster delivery and less congestion.
“By bringing together knowledge from all over the world and working together, we aim to shape the future of urban logistics,” Robert Kreeft, project manager at Somerset Capital Partners, said in a release. “The Amsterdam region is an ideal incubator in that regard: if it can be done here, it can also be done in other major cities. The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (AMA) is a major urban center, has stringent and progressive regulations in place, and the Netherlands is also a leader in (urban) logistics innovation. All parties who are involved in the urban logistics chain or wish to be involved in innovative urban logistics are welcome to set up a base at CLIC and showcase the kinds of solutions the world is looking for.”