A digital race towards innovation

Ben Dunlop | 11 Mar 2016 | Comments

We're seeing more and more companies competing for the government led 'Innovate UK' and future railway programme to support digital tech that improves customer experience.

At the beginning of February, the Rail Supply Group launched its strategy to build growth in the UK rail industry and support exports and 124,000 industry jobs. The Digital Railway is at the centre of this push towards generating exportable capability that will be in demand for decades to come. The 4,000+ suppliers in the rail supply chain will have to come together as never before to deliver innovative products and services which are distinctly different. These will be drawn not just from traditional industry sources, but from increasingly diverse industries from aerospace to financial services – and digital technologies will provide the common layer in translating much of this expertise.

Innovation has never been more important to delivery. InnovateUK, the national innovation agency, is delivering its third multi-million pound portfolio of projects, focusing on digital technologies that improve customer and Atkins’ own “Digitally Enabling Electrification” project is already setting the pace for BIM standards. The industry’s “Unlocking Innovation Scheme” is now deploying a digital matchmaking platform to bring together collaborative consortia. The EU Horizon 2020 programme’s recent €26.1m call, through Shift2Rail, focuses strongly on developing the capability to deliver the digital railway, with RSSB’s “Future Railway” programme provides support and managing funding.

More money is being invested in digital innovation in the railway than ever before, with the level of funding available reducing the risks of capability development. The only question is who will be first to take them up – will it be you?

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