Businesses can apply for a share of £3.5 million, including VAT, to develop demonstrators for decarbonisation of the railway and customer experience in stations.
Share of up to £3.5 million
8th Oct 2018
28th Nov 2018
This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition and is open to organisations of all sizes. The aim of the competition is to demonstrate innovations to stakeholders and railway customers in a representative railway environment.
This competition has 2 themes to choose from:
- Customer experience in stations.
- Decarbonisation of the railway.
Full details of what is in scope for both themes are below.
You must prove you have a well-developed innovation with a high technology readiness level (TRL) that delivers the expected outcomes when integrated in complex real-world railway applications.
Your project must create a highly interactive and innovative demonstrator. This must be in an environment where railway customers and industry representatives can witness the product as a compelling business proposition:
- within a railway station
- in rolling stock
- on railway infrastructure
Innovate UK may also consider demonstrators in settings highly representative of these environments.
Your application must demonstrate potential benefits to passengers and customers, including:
- why customers would buy the product
- how the funding will help companies in the consortium grow and result in broader economic benefits
- how you will obtain a clear route to market
Your project must:
- make taking up technologies less risky and faster
- be pre-commercial
- collect customer and performance feedback
- provide a business case for using the solution in a commercial environment
- consider the priorities of current and future franchises
- address elements of the 4Cs:
- Costs: reducing by 50% or more.
- Capacity: doubling.
- Carbon: halving emissions.
- Customers: improving their experience.
You must provide relevant proofs, so your innovation can attract customers, get insurance, supply warranties and attract financing. The relevant proofs are:
- the technology works as designed when integrated into larger complex systems and delivers the expected outcomes
- the technology is accepted by and delivers benefits for customers and the broader rail industry
- the revenue potential for the innovation within a real commercial context
- the financing and business models can be delivered within a complex programme and consortium structure
To lead a project you:
- can be an organisation of any size
- must carry out your project work in the UK
Applicants are welcome from all sectors. Your consortium:
- must include a potential integration partner
- must involve a railway asset owner (stations, rolling stock, infrastructure), an experienced rail organisation and a rail organisation that has the potential to become a customer (these can all be the same organisation)
- will ideally include an innovative start-up supply company that is already delivering in another sector
- will ideally include an organisation with rail expertise, such as a train operating company, rolling stock manufacturer, or operator and infrastructure owner
Partners may only be involved on a subcontract basis.
This is a single-phase competition with a total allocation of up to £3.5 million, including VAT. Projects will be 100% funded.
Innovate UK expect to fund projects with total costs between £250,000 and £350,000, including VAT.
Projects must plan to start by 1 March 2019 and can last up to 9 months. Projects longer than 9 months will not be supported.
Innovate UK expect to split the funding evenly between the 2 themes, but they reserve the right to manage the portfolio for the best use of this public funding.
Innovate UK will not fund applications that:
- are not likely to be successfully exploited by the rail industry to deliver benefits to rail or light-rail organisations and their customers
- are not within a year of being ready for market
- do not create a significant change in the level of innovation available in the rail industry
- are not high TRL or do not have low technical risk
- have collaborations that cannot effectively deliver a demonstration within a railway environment
- do not deliver an immersive innovative demonstrator in a railway vehicle, a railway station, or on the infrastructure that enhances the customer experience or delivers carbon reductions
- do not feature a demonstration phase, offering the customer a chance to use the innovation and give feedback
For this competition, your application should focus on prototyping and field-testing your product or service in a representative railway environment. R&D does not include:
- commercial development activities such as quantity production
- supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
- integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes
Theme 1: decarbonisation of the railway
This is a recognised priority across the network, including innovation in stations, rolling stock and infrastructure. Priorities in this theme include:
- transferring ideas from other sectors, such as automotive or aerospace
- stations with a zero carbon footprint
- improvements in air quality in stations and throughout the surrounding area
- innovative powertrain and energy storage systems for rolling stock
- alternatives to fossil fuels based on advances in automotive, to reduce noise and pollution with more self-powered rail vehicles
- battery or dual power systems, such as on-board energy storage or hybrid powertrains with greater operational flexibility and potentially cheaper electrification schemes
- examining the energy requirements of the whole system and optimising efficiency with a more flexible and integrated energy system, including constructing new railways
- lightweight, energy-efficient rolling stock
- a more holistic approach to energy use, making better use of energy generation and storage technologies to reduce operational costs and carbon footprints
- other technologies that deliver significant benefits in terms of decarbonisation to the railway station environment
Theme 2: customer experience in stations
This is about integrating an innovative technology in a railway station for the first time. The goal is to fit a single ‘station of the future’ with several innovative solutions to enhance the passengers’ experience. Priorities include:
- a seamless, accessible end to end journey
- accessibility for everyone, including those with less visible impairments
- ticketless gate lines and barrier-free access without compromising revenue protection (making sure customers pay the right fare), for example by using wireless technology in place of physical ticket barriers
- virtual assistant technology and enhanced dynamic wayfinding (digital signage)
- influencing behaviour, such as through ‘nudging’ techniques
- providing reliable, consistent information during disruption and/or offsetting negative effects
- passenger management
These lists are not exhaustive and we may consider other topics.