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Funding boost for innovative transport tech businesses

21 September 2020

Innovative transport start-ups with a focus on decarbonisation or COVID-19 recovery can now bid for a share of over £1 million (£1,010,000) in Department for Transport funding.

Transport-Technology Research and Innovation Grants (T-TRIG), which is now in its 11th round of funding, is open to entrepreneurs and innovators pioneering new ways of creating a better transport system. Over 60% of grants so far have been awarded to SMEs and 30% to universities.

T-TRIG brings together talented start-ups and policymakers at the earliest stages of innovation and by issuing targeted investments of up to £30,000 for each project, the fund aims to help budding entrepreneurs and academics propel their ideas to market quicker.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said:

As we continue to follow our green print for a transport recovery from COVID-19, it is imperative we work with startups at the cutting edge of technology to help us build back more sustainably and today’s competition launch will do exactly that.

That’s why supporting innovation is a priority for this government, as we start to travel again safely while also seeking to solve the complex challenge of decarbonising transport.
The government has provided £5.4 million through T-TRIG over the past 5 years to more than 170 technology and innovation projects with successful winners including Wayfindr and Infect. Wayfindr was able to develop a system that helps blind and partially sighted people navigate towns and cities using Bluetooth-enabled beacons and smartphones. Infinect which received T-TRIG funding in 2017, has developed a new satellite antenna to provide reliable high-speed broadband to rail journeys, significantly improving the passenger experience.

Investment from this fund has often been a precursor to funding from private investors and over £25 million in additional investment, largely from the private sector, has been secured off the back of successful projects awarded funding since the scheme began.

George Goussetis, Principle Investigator for Infinect, said:

In addition to providing the resource, T-TRIG gave us the credibility and confidence to focus our efforts on addressing the needs of the railway sector using satellite technology. This, in turn, has led to further funding successes that are supporting technological and commercial developments and we are presently quite excited to be part of an ecosystem that looks to solve tomorrow’s problems with tomorrow’s technology.
T-TRIG 2020 was announced during a roundtable held by Transport Minister Rachel Maclean where she heard about the challenges small businesses face today in commercialising new technology, products and services. The SMEs involved also met with senior government representatives and policymakers, who are actively invested in helping the UK economy thrive by supporting our community.

The Minister also announced at the roundtable a separate £500,000 competition to fund the development of products or services that would improve the ability for disabled people to use the transport network. Bids for the Accessibility-Technology Research Innovation Grant (A-TRIG) will be open until the end of November.