Rural Transport Accelerator

The Department of Transport (DfT) is supporting SMEs and local authorities to improve transport connectivity within rural communities.

Opportunity Details


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Access up to £150K funding for the testing and trialling of live demonstrations, plus coaching, mentoring, and business development support.



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The Department of Transport (DfT) is supporting SMEs and local authorities to expedite the integration of innovative practices, enhance transportation services for users, and foster improved connectivity within rural communities. This accelerator programme will expedite the uptake of innovations to improve transport in rural areas through a series of demonstrators that will develop potential solutions to the challenges that have been set out in DfT’s rural transport innovation guide.

This accelerator programme offers 6 to 8 projects, that will adopt innovative approaches to enhancing rural mobility, up to £150k of funding per project. The focus of the programme is on enhancing rural transport, offering people more choice and enabling better connections with local areas.

The project addresses the DfT’s objective to support and increase the use of innovation to address challenges within the transport system. In addition, it directly supports the following strategic priorities:

  • Improving transport for the user, delivering and maintaining a transport system that is safe, reliable, joined-up and inclusive.
  • Reducing environmental impacts, tackling climate change, and improving air quality by providing alternative transport choices for users.
  • Improving access to public transport, reducing car dependency, and promoting active travel.
  • Growing and levelling up the economy by accelerating projects that support the regeneration of left-behind towns and places.

The Connected Places Catapult will host a consortium building event on 6 February between 10:30 and 13:00: click here to register for a place. This event will focus on pitching project ideas and brokering partnerships for the Rural Transport Accelerator programme. It is ideal for those who have identified specific call topics or at least areas of interest and are ready to take the next steps, discussing concrete project ideas with potential partners and going forward to a proposal submission.

The programme challenges are:

1: Importance of rural roads for everyday journeys
2: Driving towards a sustainable future
3: Enabling innovation in rural mobility
4: Advancements in agricultural transportation
5: Open Challenges

For more information on each challenge, visit the Connected Places Catapult at the link below.

The lead applicant must have established a partnership or consortium which involves an innovative micro or small to medium sized enterprise (< 250 employees) with a solution that is at TRL 5-7, and at least one of the following:

  • a Local Authority rural area,
  • Sub-national Transport Body (STB) with a rural area,
  • a Tier 1 supplier to a Local Authority with the ability to run the demonstrator in a rural area.

All applicants must be UK-based and willing to travel on occasion to face-to-face meetings and events.


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