Network Rail is partnering with the government’s innovation agency Innovate UK to launch a competition for UK businesses to win a share of up to £300,000 for projects that use automation tech for rail infrastructure.
Automated design enables engineers to automatically explore a wide design space and identify the best design options quickly and in a cost-effective manner. The competition encourages the development of products and services that enable rapid automatic design of rail infrastructure.
Network Rail will work with Innovate UK to invest up to £300,000 to support this development and demonstration of new capability in automated design.
The collaborative research and development competition has been funded and implemented by Network Rail’s Whole System Modelling programme. The competition seeks to encourage the development of solutions in automated design tools where they will be market-ready in the next 2 to 5 years, and to demonstrate an open innovation procurement approach that harnesses the power of the market.
Applicants are being asked to develop solutions relevant to rail that apply automated design to track layout, overhead line electrification, traction power supply systems, and signalling systems. For Network Rail this will help with producing better designs faster. It will also support long term service planning by allowing better assumptions about future infrastructure and associated changes to services.
Simon Edmonds, deputy executive chair and director – manufacturing, materials and mobility, Innovate UK, said: “We’re launching this first competition with Network Rail to encourage people and businesses to apply with ideas to develop tools to help plan future infrastructure requirements. This is just the start; we want to help the railway and to help Network Rail. And we want to help the UK economy. Aligned with the government’s modern industrial strategy, our purpose is to drive growth by working with companies to de-risk, enable and support innovation.
“Our message to applicants is that we’re here to help you get a foot in the door – especially if you’ve not worked in the railway sector before. We look forward to find and drive science and technology that delivers a better railway for a better Britain.”
Ben Ford, Network Rail’s innovation lead for whole system modelling 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.”
The competition is now open until 19 December 2018. For further details visit the competition website.