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Bids have opened for funding in rail innovation as part of the First of a Kind’s (FOAK) £7.6M investment to create cutting-edge technology that will help transform rail travel.

In First of a Kind’s (FOAK) sixth year, government is inviting bids from organisations of all sizes to help develop a greener, more cost-effective and passenger focused railway.

Rail Minister Wendy Morton has officially opened this year’s competition, which invites bids from companies specialising in innovative ways to modernise the railways.

Innovate UK partnership

In partnership with Innovate UK, this year’s competition will award up to £7.6m to projects creating cutting-edge ideas that are striving towards transforming rail travel for passengers and decarbonising the network.

The competition is officially opens to applicants from 20 April 2022 and closes on 8 June 2022.

The year’s competition is focusing on technologies that improve the industry’s cost efficiency and network performance to support a more reliable railway for passengers and improving rail freight.

Cutting-edge technology

Rail Minister Wendy Morton said: “I am incredibly excited to launch the sixth round of our First of a Kind competition. In partnership with Innovate UK, we have already invested £35.4m into over 100 groundbreaking projects.

Bids have opened for funding in rail innovation as part of the FOAK investment to create cutting-edge technology to transform rail travel.

“We’ve seen cutting-edge technologies such as HydroFLEX developed, the first ever trial of a hydrogen-powered train on the UK mainline and software improving accessibility such as the Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay app.

“As part of our Plan for Rail, it’s key we continue breathing life into new ideas and supporting innovation and design to deliver greener rail journeys and transform rail travel for all passengers.”

Next-gen innovations

Last year saw 33 innovators receive grants of up to £400,000 each, while over 100 projects have been trialled and launched through the fund, such as:

  • HydroFLEX – the first mainline trial of a hydrogen train in the UK with Birmingham University’s HydroFLEX project
  • Window seater – an innovative app, connecting rail travellers to the world outside their window with geolocated audio stories along the railway
  • Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay (HEAR) – HEAR is an affordable software supporting hearing impaired passengers that automatically broadcasts audio announcements to passengers’ own devices

A briefing event will be hosted by Innovate UK in Birmingham for potential applicants to find out more.

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