SBRI rail demonstrations: first of a kind 2020

Fund Name: SBRI rail demonstrations: first of a kind 2020
Project Length: No more than 9 months
Project Value: £100k-£400k
Deadline: 11/03/2020


The aim of this competition is to demonstrate how proven technologies can be integrated into a railway environment for the first time (‘first of a kind’ demonstrations). It aims to encourage innovation in the rail industry through the use of novel technologies (for example automation) and innovative uses of data. We will help innovative suppliers take the final step to market readiness.

Fund Details

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:

  • gather evidence about integration challenges and explain how you will de-risk the integration
  • demonstrate to railway stakeholders and customers the commercial benefits of the solution
  • 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
  • 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
  • there is 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

Innovate UK expect to fund projects with total eligible costs between £100,000 and £400,000, including VAT.

Projects must plan to start by 1 July 2020 and can last no more than 9 months. All work must be completed by 31 March 2021. This completion date is fixed and non-negotiable.

Specific themes

Theme 1: environmental sustainability

This can include:

  • low-carbon freight
  • energy generation and storage solutions
  • low emission self-powered vehicles
  • sustainable non-traction energy solutions for stations and depots
  • improved air quality in enclosed spaces
  • sustainable and recyclable materials that reduce the whole-life carbon footprint
  • reduction of noise from diesel engines and wheels

Theme 2: customer experience

This can include:

  • improved access from stations to trains, considering the platform or train interface
  • optimising overall journey time within the railway environment, for example station access, parking facilities or ticket machines and interchange with other transport modes
  • improved travel accessibility for visible and non-visible disabilities
    access to information for those without modern technology devices such as smart phones
  • good quality and predictable on-board and station connectivity
    cost-effective and easy to implement improvements to passenger comfort on-board trains
  • analysing large volumes of customer feedback to drive improvements

Theme 3: optimised railway operations

This can include:

  • improved dwell time at stations
  • optimised freight planning
  • improved disruption recovery
  • timely and accurate information for front-line staff
  • technology to improve responses in the case of system failure
    reduction of minor operational issues which can escalate into significant disruption
  • real-time decision-making assistance
  • using robotics to improve safety and security on the railway

Theme 4: optimised and cost-effective maintenance

This can include:

  • use of automation and robotics for maintenance and inspection decision-making or tasks
  • automated cleaning of railway assets, for example stations, trains or car parks
    enabling on-site or local maintenance to rolling stock, rather than having to return to maintenance depots for faults arising during service
  • use of pattern-recognition technologies to automate inspections
  • improved reporting of failures and/or issues

You can work alone or collaborate with others as subcontractors.

To lead a project you:

  • can be an organisation of any size
  • must carry out your project work in the UK

Project team

Applicants are welcome from all sectors. Your project:

  • must involve an owner of railway assets (such as stations, rolling stock or infrastructure), an experienced railway organisation and a rail organisation that has the potential to become a customer (this can be the same organisation or 3 separate organisations)
  • must include a potential integration partner
  • must have a letter of support from a potential customer organisation
  • will ideally include an innovative start-up supply company that is already delivering in another sector
  • will ideally include an organisation with railway expertise, such as train operating companies, a freight operator, rolling stock manufacturers or operators and infrastructure owners
Get in touch

If you think that you might be eligible for this fund, please Get In Touch by filling out the contact form below.

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