Woman courier on bike

Innovative Sustainable Urban Last Mile: Small Vehicles and Business Models (i-Smile)

Project 2020 - 2023 Closed

Due to a rise in e-commerce and urbanization there is a rapid increase in last mile deliveries in the Nordic countries and internationally. This pace may increase due to the Corona crisis where many choose to shop online in order to avoid crowds.

In a few years, last mile deliveries may impose a considerable problem for cities where activities are already competing for space. The last mile is often the most inefficient, costly, and emission intensive part of the transport chain. Fill rates are low, and the cost of the last mile may amount to one third of total cost. The negative effects of transport, like emissions, congestion, and accidents, become critical in cities where people live and work.

The project purpose is to increase sustainability in urban last mile deliveries by understanding how innovations in the urban last mile may reduce the negative effects of e-commerce and at the same time create world-class delivery services for consumers. The i-Smile project will develop an innovation platform for upscaling sustainable business models for urban last mile deliveries.

Visit the i-Smile website for further information

The project will investigate the rationale of stakeholders in last mile deliveries to identify the drivers for making sustainable choices and propose innovative business models. Its primary stakeholders are consumers, shippers and logistics service providers, as well as municipalities. A study of how sustainability is established through interaction in the delivery system is needed and will be conducted.

To meet the growing demand for logistic services due to e-commerce, the project will further investigate the use of light electric freight vehicles (LEFVs) and automatized delivery vehicles in last-mile deliveries. Presently, several logistics service providers test LEFVs in urban last mile deliveries. They search for sustainable business models and ways of upscaling the use of these vehicles.

One major outstanding question is, however, what type of LEFV is optimal for transporting which freight flows. Further, it is also unclear how standardization of mini containers can make seamless multimodal shipments possible. The project aims to find answers to these important questions.

The project builds a strong Nordic consortium for future projects on mobility and aims to commit other Nordic actors to this important field for innovation and research. The consortium brings together key multidisciplinary competences including businesses and research institutes from Nordic countries.

Project partners

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Hanken School of Economics

Project Owner

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VTI Swedish National Road and Transport
Research Institute

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The Institute of Transport Economics (TØI)

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Copenhagen Business School

The project also have the following partners from the business-side:

  • Coreorient Oy (FI)
  • A to B Finland Oy (FI)
  • Seulo-palvelut Oy/ Kauppahalli 24 (FI)
  • DHL (SE)
  • Amedia Distribusjon (NO)

Project background

The i-Smile project is co-funded through the second Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity call for proposals under the Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity program.

The aim of the program is to help develop a more sustainable and connected transport system in the Nordic region while generating opportunities for Nordic businesses. The program is one of the efforts with which Nordic Innovation seeks to fulfil the Nordic prime ministers’ vision of Nordic region as the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030.


Nina Egeli - Senior Innovation Adviser

Nina Egeli

Senior Innovation Adviser
Internationalization, innovation and business development support, in combination with a strong background in strategy and policy development are main pillars in Nina’s professional life. Through project design and management, she aims to fit market needs with relevant services and opportunities that allows new business partnerships and business projects to prosper.

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