Accelerating innovation in rail round 4

Key Features

Businesses can apply for a share of £9 million to deliver high-value, low-cost rail solutions or improve user experience through stations

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Up to £700,000

Opens: 20th Mar 2017

Closes: 17th May 2017

! This scheme is now closed

The rail industry is transforming the way it manages innovation and introduces new technologies. The Rail Capability Delivery Plan 2017 outlines the industry’s vision for using technology to create a better railway. This competition aims to provide direct support and encourage collaboration between rail industry clients and innovative businesses.

The focus of this competition is industrial research. To be in scope proposals must demonstrate how they meet specific industry challenges.  Future exploitation is a key priority. Applications should provide evidence of a market need for specific solutions and engagement with potential rail industry customers.

Specific competition themes

  • High-value, low-cost railway innovations
  • Improving customer experience through stations

For more details on the themes above, please click here.

Other considerations

  • Applications are welcome both from within and outside the rail sector
  • Innovate UK encourage consortia to work in partnership with organisations that have rail sector expertise, either directly or in an advisory role
  • Applications must address specific challenges faced by organisations in the rail industry
  • Proposals must account for human behaviour to ensure acceptance by users (rail industry employees or passengers)
  • Projects must support end-to-end proofs-of-concept and demonstrate how the technologies can be scaled up in a flexible way
  • Proposals will be assessed on the potential for successful exploitation in a railway environment
  • Applicants are encouraged to discuss requirements in relation to regulations and policy with potential customer organisations prior to finalising submissions




To lead a project, you must:

  • Be a UK-based business of any size
  • Carry out your project in the UK
  • Work collaboratively

Funding & project details

  • Projects should last between 3 and 12 months
  • Innovate UK expect the total cost of projects to range from £150,000 to £1m
  • Innovate UK is looking to fund industrial research, with businesses attracting 50% public funding for project costs (60% to 70% for SMEs)

All projects must:

  • be led by a UK-based business and carried out in the UK
  • include at least one UK-based SME
  • meet the description of industrial research

For industrial research, you could receive up to 70% of eligible project costs if you are an SME.

International partners are welcome to participate in consortia, but are not eligible for Innovate UK grant funding.