This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the Department for Transport (DfT).
The aim of the competition is to deliver high maturity demonstrations of innovations to the UK railways. Your project must support the overarching principle for FOAK (First of a Kind) 2023.
This competition is part of a larger ‘First of a Kind’ demonstrator initiative, on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT) and High Speed Two (HS2) Limited. The initiative aims to accelerate innovation in the UK rail sector and enable technologies to be readily and efficiently integrated into the railway system.
The overarching principle for First of a Kind 2023 is cost efficiency and increasing value for money with the following priority themes:
Theme 1 – Customer Experience
Theme 2 – Reliable and Easy to Maintain Assets (this competition)
Theme 3 – Optimised Train Operations
You must select which scope theme you are applying for. If a project covers more than one theme, choose one where most of the work is being undertaken.
It is your responsibility to ensure you submit your application to the correct theme for your project. You will not be able to transfer your application and it will not be sent for assessment if it is out of scope.
This is a single phase competition.
In applying to this competition you are entering into a competitive process.
Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject to a separate, possibly competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.
This competition closes at 11am UK time on the date of the deadline.
The aim of the competition is to deliver high maturity demonstrations of innovations to the UK railways. Your project must support the overarching principle for FOAK 2023: cost efficiency and increasing value for money.
Delivering financial sustainability is a strategic objective of the long term strategy for rail and a pressing need for the sector, given a drop in revenue and increasing costs in the light of inflation.
Your project, regardless of priority theme, must demonstrate how you will improve value for money through increasing revenue or reducing costs whilst delivering positive outcomes related to this competitions theme which is: reliable and easy to maintain assets.
Your proposal must also provide robust evidence supported by a rail partner.
You must demonstrate how proven technologies can be integrated into a railway environment for the first time as ‘First of a Kind’ demonstrations. This competition aims to support innovative suppliers in preparation for market readiness.
You must describe your projects potential to be successfully exploited in a railway environment. We encourage you to discuss regulations, policy and other requirements with potential customer organisations before you submit your application.
Your project must:
You must provide evidence, showing your innovation can attract customers, get insurance, supply warranties, and attract financing.
Your evidence must show:
You must demonstrate potential benefits to passengers and customers, including:
We will give preference to applications which:
You must also include an evaluation activity to identify the cost and benefits of your deliverables, and to support commercial uptake of your product.
You must present at an industry briefing event to highlight the benefits you can bring to the railways.
Your project must create a highly interactive and innovative demonstrator in a railway environment which will enable the most effective demonstration of the technology.
The most appropriate environment for this must be agreed with your rail industry partners. In their role as potential future customers, they will be well-placed to propose an appropriately representative railway environment.
This must be a railway environment where railway customers and industry representatives can witness the product as a compelling business proposition and must be as close to a live railway environment as possible.
The demonstration of your innovation is a key deliverable and must be included as part of your milestones.
You must work with your railway partners to achieve this, obtaining all required permissions and approvals. This must take the form of a launch event at, for example, a railway station or depot, attended by a range of industry stakeholders with potential interest in your product.
Example environments can include:
This list is not exhaustive, however, and others may be more appropriate to demonstrate certain types of technology.
Where required, the event may be online to access a wider selection of stakeholders. However, in this case the events must be augmented by evidence of your deployment in a railway environment.
You should de-risk all aspects of this before bidding into this competition to ensure that it can be delivered to the requirements of DfT and Innovate UK.
You must complete an evaluation activity at the end of the project, measuring data to anticipate the commercial impact that adoption of the innovation will have on the railway network.
This evaluation must be specific to your project and evaluate the immediate effectiveness of your technology and the project direct outputs and activities.
This can include the evaluation of the:
This can be a measurement of the time taken to complete a task or the costs incurred before and after adoption of the technology. Alternatively, the activity might take the form of a survey of railway staff to solicit feedback and to anticipate cost benefit.
In all cases, the collection of objective data where possible is preferred over the collection of subjective feedback.
This information should be used to inform the future business case for your innovation. Involvement of individuals with expertise in designing such evaluation activities will benefit your application.
You must summarise your findings in your End of Project report. The report template will be provided to you at the beginning of your project.
Contracts will be given to successful applicants.
You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results.
In this competition your project must focus on:
Theme 2 – Reliable and Easy to Maintain Assets
In this theme we are seeking projects which will help extend the life of rolling stock and passenger-facing assets specifically, make their repair and maintenance easier and more cost-effective, or enable them to better deliver for customers.
Possible examples include:
Note that although software (also known as applications) for mobile devices may be in scope, only a limited number of these projects will be supported.
Prototype development and evaluation
This can include prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validation of new or improved products, processes or services in environments representative of real-life operating conditions. The primary objective is to make further technical improvements on products, processes or services that are not substantially set.
We will not fund projects that: