Transport Minister Richard Holden pledged to “further unleash” freight’s potential during a lively roundtable discussion hosted by Connected Places Catapult, shortly before the Department for Transport announced an open call for smaller companies to put themselves forward for the second round of the Freight Innovation Fund.
The event in London brought together many of the first cohort of nine small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – supported this year with £1.2 million of funding – to speak about their experiences of the accelerator programme, alongside client partners they have worked with and investors offering support.
The Minister opened proceedings by speaking of the “power of collaboration” demonstrated by the first cohort “as a driver for commercial success” and his delight at the “significant tranches of new capital raised, and new customers identified” among participants of round one. He spoke too about innovation being “critical to addressing big challenges for the freight and logistics sector, right across the country”.
Several of those seated at the table praised the Freight Innovation Fund and the efforts of those delivering the programme, while others raised important pointers they say need to be addressed by stakeholders in the freight sector to ensure that small businesses offering innovation can thrive.