Futurescope High Growth AI Accelerator for Transport sector

A 14-week accelerator programme for UK-based startups, scaleups and SMEs to validate and develop AI and ML deep-tech solutions.

Opportunity Details


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About the AI Accelerator

The Futurescope High Growth AI Accelerator, part of the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme, is a 14-week accelerator programme for UK-based startups, scaleups and SMEs to help them validate and develop responsible, ethical and desirable AI and ML deep-tech solutions.

With a specific focus on the UK’s transport sector, the programme focuses on enhancing the monitoring, automation, and optimisation of existing systems and infrastructures in the UK to align with the country’s ambitious journey toward achieving net-zero emissions. This initiative seeks to not only improve current networks’ efficiency but also contribute to reducing carbon footprints and promoting sustainable practices.

Digital Catapult invites applicants from UK-registered startups, scaleups and SMEs that:

  • Have existing or new AI-enabled services or AI-integrated infrastructure solutions that can demonstrate to solve one of the challenges of the call.
  • Have strong technical teams.
  • Have available data and an immediate need for computation.
  • Operate in monitoring, intelligent surveillance, and predictive maintenance.

Applicants are encouraged to choose a challenge aligned with their expertise, as each presents a distinct opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the landscape of AI and ML solutions in the transport sector.

  • Real-Time Monitoring Challenge, in collaboration with Transport for London.
  • Scheduling Automation and Optimisation Challenge, in collaboration with RailX.
  • Container Placement Optimisation Challenge, in collaboration with Port of Tyne.

Selected businesses will benefit from collaborating closely with industry players in the sector, access to cloud credits, technical and business expertise from our valued partners, strategic and technical guidance, holistic diagnostics, tailored support, to accelerate their product readiness.

To find out more about this opportunity, you can register for the briefing webinar on Tuesday 20 February 2024.

If you would like more information about the challenges, please visit the Digital Catapult briefing page.


  • Overview
    Challenge Statement

    Currently, the availability of wheelchair priority spaces on London Buses is unreliable due to them being occupied by prams, luggage, standing passengers for example. This hinders planning for disabled passengers and causes extended journey times.

    To address this, TfL aims to develop a system that detects and communicates the real-time status of the wheelchair priority space through prioritising smartphone and journey planning app integration.

    How might we foster more reliability and independence for bus users with accessibility needs by giving them real-time information on wheelchair priority space occupancy?

  • Overview
    Challenge Statement

    RailX is an online platform facilitating rail freight bookings for intermodal goods, with a focus on the UK’s deep-sea ports. The platform aims to support SMEs and promote a modal shift from road to rail to facilitate efficient and low-carbon freight across the UK.

    Currently, delayed vessel arrivals at UK ports, lead to manual rescheduling that impacts 40% of container movements causing delays and congestion.

    RailX seeks to overcome these challenges by building an automated solution that will enable the platform to schedule and reschedule bookings while considering cost, efficiency and the lowest carbon output.

    How might we automate and optimise the processes of rail and road bookings made via RailX’s online platform in response to late vessel arrivals?

  • Overview
    Challenge Statement

    The Port of Tyne is facing a challenge regarding the efficient placement of containers within their South Shields terminal.

    The goal of placing containers in a particular order is to minimise the number of reorganisation moves required to retrieve a container when needed.

    A reorganisation move refers to transferring a container from one location to another to access another.

    Reorganisation moves currently account for 35% of all container movements within the terminal, generating additional use on specialised equipment, fuel consumption, and carbon emissions which could be eliminated by optimising the placement of containers.

    How might we optimise the placement of containers in the Port of Tyne’s terminal to minimise the number of reorganisation moves needed in the facility?

Programme information

    • Open Call opens – 14 February 2024
    • Open Call closes – 13 March 2024 at 23:59
    • Briefing Webinar – 20 February 2024
    • Q&A Sessions – 23 February, 1, 8 March 2024
    • Programme Start Date – 22 April 2024
    • Programme End Date – 26 July 2024
  • Applications will be assessed and scored equally against five criteria. All applications must have an AI/ML use case to take part in the programme but Digital Catapult encourages applications that wish to integrate any other advanced digital technology.

    1. Relevance and feasibility
    2. Business strategy
    3. Data and code readiness
    4. Ethical impact
    5. Growth potential
  • Cloud Services and Technology Providers
    Organisations offering valuable resources and services for example; cloud computing credits or free access to their platforms:

    • Amazon Web Services
    • Google Cloud Platform
    • YellowDog
    • NVIDIA
    • MongoDB

    Regulatory and Legal Advisors
    Organisations providing guidance and support in navigating regulatory compliance, legal frameworks, and industry standards.

    • Information Commissioner’s Office
    • British Standards Institute
    • Marks & Clerk

Who is Digital Catapult?

Digital Catapult is the UK authority on advanced digital technology. Bringing together industry leaders, researchers and startups, we accelerate digital technology adoption to benefit the UK – breaking down barriers, de-risking innovation, opening up markets and responsibly shaping the products, services and experiences of the future.

Digital Catapult is part of the Catapult Network that supports businesses in transforming great ideas into valuable products and services. We are a network of world-leading technology and innovation centres established by Innovate UK. Visit digicatapult.org.uk for more information.

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