Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator Cohort 3

The Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator will support up to 12 SMEs to trial solutions in real-world environments to help solve challenges within the sector.

Opportunity Details


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DfT will provide up to £150,000 to each successful SME. SMEs are expected to contribute at least 30% of project costs as matching funds or in-kind support.



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The Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator will support up to 12 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to trial their solutions in real-world environments to help solve pressing challenges within the freight sector. The SMEs will be selected by the DfT and Connected Places Catapult to join a 6-month programme, where each of them can access up to £150,000 to trial their solutions via a pre-commercial Pilot & Trial contract.

SMEs have two options when applying to the programme:

  • Apply to be matched with an industry partner: Connected Places Catapult will work with industry partners, who will provide access to testing environments and internal expertise. They will also play an active role in the SME selection as part of the due diligence process. The industry partners supporting the accelerator programme are DHL, Eddie Stobart, Freightliner, Maritime Transport, Port of Dover, Port of Tilbury, Welch Group, Wincanton and DP World UK. If you would like to get additional details about the programme partners, their motivations, potential trial facilities and resources available, please click here.
  • Apply with your own Industry Partner: We also welcome applications from SMEs who already have a partner they wish to trial their solutions with and can offer access to testbed facilities.

As part of the programme, SMEs will also benefit from trial and business support tailored to their needs. This will include but is not limited to trial design training, monitoring and evaluation, investment readiness, pitch coaching, marketing support, and business modelling.

All applicants will also be able to join the Freight Innovation Cluster, a community for stakeholders operating in the freight industry. Learn more here.

We recommend that you attend the Application Support Webinar on 16 May at 10:00, which will include an overview of the programme, challenges, guidance on the application process and live Q&A.

There are four challenges for applicants:

Challenge 1: Optimisation of Journeys
Innovations and technologies that enable freight organisations to optimise and maximise the use of existing journeys by empowering cross-sector partnership and collaboration.

Challenge 2: Net Zero and Data
Advanced solutions that lead the way towards net zero, enable accurate and consistent carbon calculations, and encourage multi-stakeholder freight climate action.

Challenge 3: Inland Waterways
Unlocking the potential of river and canal freight through the systemic improvement of inland waterway logistics, vessels and infrastructure to decarbonise urban deliveries.

Challenge 4: Open Challenge
Innovations that aim at decarbonising and improving the inter-modal connections between freight transport modes.

SMEs can access up to £150,000. SMEs are expected to contribute 30% of the total project cost as matching funds. Connected Places Catapult will be procuring the services for the programme under a pre-commercial Pilot & Trial contract. Additional support will also be provided.

At the point of application:

  • You must be a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME).
  • You must have a registered UK company address.
  • You must have operations in the UK.
  • You must have an innovative solution at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5+.
  • You must be willing to test in a real-world environment.
  • You must be able to address one of the accelerator challenge statements with your solution.
  • You must be VAT registered.

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