Celebrating successful starts in developing transport innovation

Five awards for excellence have been handed out to innovators involved in the Transport Research & Innovation Grants programme.

“There are so many really good examples of impact, collaboration, insight and invention from the Transport Research & Innovation Grants programme,” remarked the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Sarah Sharples at a showcase event in Leeds, which celebrated the achievements of 67 projects that made up the most recent cohort of funding recipients.

Professor Sharples presented five Chief Scientific Advisor Awards to the most successful innovators to have developed new technologies and ideas through the TRIG programme this year, which is funded by the DfT and delivered by Connected Places Catapult.

An award for ‘Outstanding project delivery for a business-led project’ went to DBR & Associates for its scheme to improve station lift access for passengers with disabilities; using an innovative monitoring approach; making maintenance less disruptive. Sarah praised the team for “coming up with a really great innovation, with massive impact on travellers”.

‘Outstanding project delivery for an academic-led project’ went to Lancaster University for its development of a societal readiness assessment dashboard for transport decarbonisation innovations. Professor Sharples said those involved in the scheme “showed outstanding commitment to TRIG” and praised their engagement with colleagues from the Department.

An award for ‘Most innovative proven idea’ went to VESOS Solutions for its work to develop a system that reduces response times to accidents and breakdowns on motorways and rural roads. The company “proactively engaged with stakeholders in the UK, Ireland and Australia and collaborated with the DfT’s policy teams to raise awareness of the technology,” Sarah noted.

The ‘Project identified as having the best growth potential’ went to TaiSan which has developed the world’s first sodium-ion powered quadricycle. Since being involved with TRIG, the firm has signed 13 Memoranda of Understanding with automakers, taking its total to 19. “This is a really impressive number for a technology at this stage in its development,” said Professor Sharples.

Finally, the ‘Inspirational leadership’ award went to Susan Ross at Edge Innovation for creating a new approach to community car sharing in rural areas. The project involved stakeholder research and workshops, which were “carried out in a professional and effective way, showcasing the value of the project and how strongly it considers end users,” said Sarah.

Panel shares TRIG programme experiences

Earlier on at the event, Connected Places Catapult’s Ruth Markman chaired a panel discussion involving five members of the most recent TRIG cohort to hear about their experiences of the programme.

“This project allowed us to focus on the supply chain and develop our commercial offering,” said Matt Candy of Steamology. He was asked what the most important benefit of being on the programme was. “Having the space and time to reflect, do core research and build relationships,” Matt replied.

Victoria Kroll of Esitu Solutions said that being on the TRIG programme provided the team with the “time, budget and breathing space” to dedicate to developing her innovation. She added that any projects on the programme that can prove to “make an impact are exciting”.

Dennis Roycroft of DBR & Associates said the biggest benefit for his company was to be challenged about its business model, which “changed several times throughout this process”. The TRIG team, he added, helped the company “sell ourselves, think slightly differently and transform the story we have to tell”.

Alex Trout from Slingshot Simulations said: “The biggest outcome was being able to take a concept into a real product and start to gain market traction. TRIG funding made a huge difference.” He added the process helped him better understand the ‘real world problems’ his technology could help to solve.

Andrew Miller of Rock Engineering said: “Going through the TRIG process enabled us to see what concepts we want to bring into production, and allowed us to see what technologies could best fit. Thanks to TRIG we have connected with other companies, which has been incredibly helpful for us as a small start-up.”


Find out more about the Transport Research and Innovation Grants.