Rail

Rail is essential to the economic, social and environmental health and growth of the UK, supporting essential travel, commuters, social and leisure travel, healthcare journeys and travel for education purposes. The rail network is the UK’s travel backbone, connecting rural communities to urban areas and facilitating opportunities for all.

The UK rail industry contributes £36bn to the UK economy annually, directly employing 115,000 people and supporting another 250,000 through its supply chain. There were 1,718 billion journeys on the National Rail network in 2016, making it the fifth most used in the world.

As the sector continues to grow, passenger satisfaction, safety, capacity, efficiency, sustainability, digitisation and inclusion are crucial factors to ensuring a resilient rail network.

Innovate UK Business Connect’s rail team works with major stakeholders within rail to identify key industry challenges, then uses our wider network to connect solution holders (including SMEs, academics and other businesses) to industry to address these needs. We also provide support through events, guidance on grant applications and other networking opportunities.

Rail and Covid-19

Covid-19 has had a major impact on the UK and around the world. Within rail, this has created a number of challenges, and has significantly impacted the industry. UK companies have risen to meet these challenges, providing innovative products and services to tackle a range of needs. Find out how Innovate UK Business Connect has worked with Innovate UK to promote some examples of how UK innovators can contribute to the rebuilding and growth of rail in the UK and around the world.

The wider transport team works to connect innovations across transport modes, highlighting new opportunities, and projecting your insights in a crowded marketplace.

First of a Kind: Rail Innovation Directory

First of a Kind (FOAK) is funded through the SBRI process to develop demonstrators of innovative solutions to rail challenges. Find out more about SBRI here.

This booklet is a showcase of projects funded through the First of a Kind and Accelerating Innovation in Rail competitions from 2017-2020, and aims to highlight innovative technologies which have been successfully demonstrated, for potential customers within the UK rail sector.

Click here to download the directory.

First of a Kind: video case studies

Focusing on ‘Passenger Experience’, ‘Safety and Performance’ and ‘Sustainability’, these videos are a spotlight on some of the companies funded by the SBRI First of a Kind rail innovation competitions.

Related Opportunities

SBRI: Accessible solutions for disrupted journeys

Opens: 19/02/2024 Closes: 03/04/2024

Organisations can apply for a share of £1m to develop an accessible and inclusive solution, physical or digital, to support transport users when a journey is disrupted.

More Information

Space4Rail ESA open call

Opens: 01/11/2023 Closes: 31/12/2025

Funding to support the use of space-based assets to improve the European Rail system

More Information

Futurescope High Growth AI Accelerator for Transport sector

Opens: 14/02/2024 Closes: 13/03/2024

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

More Information

Related Events and Recordings

Wed
18
Oct
2023

Rail Innovation Exhibition 2023

09.00 - 17.00 | Birmingham

Watch now
Mon
4
Dec
2023

Horizon Europe webinar - Clean and competitive solutions for all transport modes

10.30 - 12.00 GMT | Online

Watch now
See all events

Related News

Department for Transport and High Speed Rail partner launch 2023 First of a Kind Rail Competition

11/05/2023

Department for Transport and High Speed Rail partner launch 2023 First of a Kind Rail Competition

The Department for Transport (DfT) and High Speed Rail partner are launching a new Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition to accelerate innovation in the UK rail sector and enable technologies to be readily and efficiently integrated into the railway system.

Read more
The 2023 Accessible and Inclusive Transport Report

10/03/2023

The 2023 Accessible and Inclusive Transport Report

Download the March 2023 Accessible and Inclusive Transport Report, published by Innovate UK KTN.

Read more
More News
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