The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched the 2020 First of a Kind (FOAK) competition to accelerate rail innovation.
Working alongside Innovate UK, the DfT has allocated funding to the tune of £9.4 million that will be available to organisations who develop technology focused on improving rail journeys, making them faster, leaner and greener.
The FOAK competition is now in its fourth year and will ensure rail travel is transformed, whilst also decarbonising the network – something that is the focus of major organisations within the rail community.
In 2019, a total of 124 innovators applied for a share of £7.8 million worth of investment, with 24 projects receiving funding between £250,000 and £350,000.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said the competition will help the UK stay at the ‘cutting edge of rail technology’.
He said: “For two centuries, the UK has been at the cutting edge of rail technology.
“FOAK 2020 is part of the research and innovation melting pot that will keep us there as we enter another decade.
“To build the railway of tomorrow, we have to support the inventors and innovators of today.
“This competition is designed to find the next Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and help them create the technology that defines our railway in the future.”
Previous winners include the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research, which received funding for plans to undertake mainline testing of a hydrogen-fuelled train in the UK – the first testing of this kind.
George Freeman, Future of Transport Minister, added: “We have committed to lead the world in transport decarbonisation and emissions reduction through our NetZero programme.
“By investing in renewable technologies, the UK benefits from both growth in the green economy and cleaner, greener transport.
“Having already supported trains that run on sunlight and hydrogen, drones to survey our tracks and technology to tackle leaves on the line, the UK is fast becoming once again a hub of global innovation in transport.”