Organisations developing cutting-edge technology focused on making rail journeys faster, cleaner and greener could receive a share of £9.4 million to bring their ideas to life.
The Department for Transport is working with Innovate UK to launch the First of a Kind 2020 competition to accelerate innovation in rail.
Now in its fourth year, the competition is intended to help transform rail travel for passengers and decarbonise the network.
To mark the launch, Future of Transport Minister George Freeman visited former competition winner Riding Sunbeams (pictured), which is running a pilot scheme near Aldershot station in Hampshire; this is supplying power to Network Rail’s infrastructure and could pave the way for the world’s first-ever solar-powered train.
Last year saw 124 innovators apply for a share of £7.8 million, with 24 projects receiving funding between £250,000 and £350,000.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “For two centuries, the UK has been at the cutting edge of rail technology; First of a Kind 2020 is part of the research and innovation melting pot that will keep us there as we enter another decade.
“This competition is designed to find the next Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and help them create the technology that defines our railway in the future.”
Simon Edmonds, Innovate UK’s chief business officer, said: “The UK’s rail network is one of the nation’s vital economic assets.
“That is why we are all committed to improving it and building on its green credentials.
“We are looking for pioneering projects from great British innovators to make the railway ever more reliable and sustainable.”
Entries for the fourth funding round close on 11 March.
The competition is open to organisations of all sizes and sectors whose technologies could help to create a greener, more cost-effective and customer-friendly railway with greater capacity.
Details can be found at the Web site (www.gov.uk/guidance/innovation-apply-for-a-funding-award