Safer, greener travel: government investment in transport tech to accelerate the road to a green recovery

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  • talented transport tech start-ups given government funding to support COVID-19 recovery and decarbonisation as we build back better from the pandemic
  • projects could improve ventilation systems on trains, create safer environments for the visually impaired and lead to greener deliveries on our roads
  • fund has supported nearly 200 innovative ideas, with investment totalling £6 million in 7 years

Pioneering technology and projects that prioritise safer, greener travel are among the winners of government funding announced today (11 February 2021).

Now in its seventh year, the transport-technology research and innovation grant (T-TRIG) programme, in partnership with Connected Places Catapult, enables the country’s brightest entrepreneurs and researchers to develop cutting-edge tech to make UK transport systems safer, more sustainable and accessible.

A number of this year’s winners focus on ways that we can respond to and recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including a project that looks at how a purifying system can remove airborne COVID-19 particles from trains, creating safer and cleaner carriages.

Another involves the development of a bracelet that allows people with visual impairments to be alerted when they are not social distancing, allowing them to travel with more confidence as we emerge from the pandemic.

Another winner will use the weight data of passengers to supply real-time carriage information on how busy a train is, allowing passengers to choose whether to travel and where to board.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said:

I’m delighted to see government investment bringing together talented start-ups and policy-makers at the earliest stages of innovation, and giving a boost to the technology, which could make travelling safer on our road to a green transport recovery.

This funding will make the UK one of the most attractive places for SMEs and university thinkers to do what they do best, as we look to build back better, while also solving the complex challenge of decarbonising transport.

Among the green tech ideas is a project that would see local communities signing up to an app where those making deliveries would upload their journey plans for the day. This would then be matched to local people who are expecting deliveries, helping reduce CO2 emissions on our roads by cutting lengthy detours.

This year, T-TRIG is investing £30,000 in each of the 23 successful projects focused on COVID-19 recovery and decarbonisation to help budding innovators and academics propel their ideas to market more quickly.

To date, 199 innovation projects have received a share of £6 million in funding – more than 60% of these grants have been awarded to small businesses, with 30% going to universities.

Connected Places Catapult’s CEO Nicola Yates OBE said:

We are immensely proud of what Connected Places Catapult and the Department for Transport (DfT) have achieved together through the T-TRIG scheme. Transport innovation is a critical tool for creating and driving the transport systems of the future, and the core of that is the talented SMEs and researchers that make up the UK’s transport innovation community.

We look forward to continuing work with DfT and the UK’s brilliant SME community in making sure that the best of British innovation successfully makes it to the market, both here and abroad.

Support from this fund has often been a precursor to funding from private investors. Since the scheme began, successful T-TRIG projects have secured more than £25 million in additional investment, largely from the private sector.

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