Between six and eight projects offering new ideas to boost rural mobility and provide people with more travel choice will be chosen this spring to take part in a competition from the Department for Transport, delivered by Connected Places Catapult.
From today, the Rural Transport Accelerator programme is open to applications from small to medium sized companies (or their trial partners) to set out their innovations, products or services to help improve travel for users and ensure the rural transport system is as safe, reliable, joined-up and inclusive as possible.
Also encouraged are ideas that reduce environmental impact, tackle climate change and improve air quality associated with rural transport; and those that aim to improve access to public transport, reduce car dependency and promote active travel.
Innovations are also welcome that seek to enhance community wellbeing, support local economies and enable growth.
The Accelerator is looking for applications from consortia involving an innovative SME and at least one of the following: a local authority in a rural area; a Sub-national Transport Body with a rural area; or a Tier 1 supplier to a local authority (provided they can run the demonstrator in a rural area). All consortium members must be based in the UK.
Entrants to the Accelerator competition should look to address challenges in one of the following categories:
Importance of rural roads for everyday journeys – including innovations to increase rural road network resilience, improve infrastructure in the face of a changing climate and boost safety.
Driving towards a sustainable future – such as shared mobility, alternative fuels and demand responsive transport; as well as new approaches to delivering goods and services.
Enabling innovation in rural mobility – including efforts to reduce isolation in rural communities, and new opportunities around first and last-mile connectivity.
Advancements in agricultural transportation – such as ways to reduce the impact of farm vehicles on the road network, considering how transport automation can benefit rural businesses, and improving supply chain logistics.
Open challenges – including building communities and enabling the adoption of technology within rural areas; plus addressing the needs of elderly residents and individuals with disabilities.