The EU Mission on Climate Neutral and Smart Cities is an ambitious initiative aiming to involve a wide range of stakeholders and deliver 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030. We analysed the information submitted in the expressions of interest by 362 candidate cities. The majority of the cities’ strategies for climate neutrality include urban transport as a main sector and combine the introduction of new technologies with the promotion of public transport and active mobility. We combined the information from the EU Mission candidate cities with data from the CORDIS and TRIMIS databases, and applied a clustering algorithm to measure proximity to foci of H2020 funding. Our results suggest that preparedness for the EU Mission is correlated with research and innovation activities on transport and mobility. Horizon 2020 activities specific to transport and mobility significantly increased the likelihood of a city to be a candidate. Among the various transport technology research pathways, smart mobility appears to have a major role in the development of solutions for climate neutrality.