Network Rail has announced a partnership with Innovate UK to open up new ideas to improve efficiency, investment and innovation on Britain’s railways.
Innovate UK helps to grow the economy by supporting businesses in the development and realisation of new ideas; its input has encouraged investment across a range of industries and Network Rail believe this partnership will help to break down barriers, providing pathways for organisations who want to invest in and build on the railway.
In celebration of this groundbreaking partnership, Network Rail and Innovate UK has announced a competition that could net UK businesses a share of £300,000 on projects that develop and demonstrate tools that can automatically plan rail infrastructure, and at the same time, delivering the Whole System Modelling agenda to the front and centre of planning in rail.
The partnership between Innovate UK and Network Rail will open up the railway industry to organisations who can make a lasting input in the sector but may not have worked within rail previously.
By giving other organisations the chance to get their proverbial foot through the door, it opens up competition, increases the chance of innovation, improves efficiency and also reduces costs for the taxpayer-funded organisation by tapping into new suppliers, while also helping companies based in the UK develop products and services to export.
The competition will help with the planning of rail capacity through automated infrastructure design; the competition will promote wider private investment in this particular area.
Ben Ford, innovation lead for whole system modelling at Network Rail, said: “We want this partnership to help us be smarter in buying technology; it will help us bring new talent to bear on our problems, and even more it creates commercial benefits.
“Entrepreneurial companies will invest their own capital in developing solutions and produce commercially competitive products which they will maintain and export.
“And when they do that, they create more tax revenue, some of which supports the railway, so we win all round, and the public win all round.”
The competition runs from now until 19 December.