The new SIMULATE Accelerator Programme for start-ups with innovative mobility solutions

The SIMULATE (Smart, Infrastructure & Mobility Urban Laboratory and Test Environment) accelerator is looking for disruptive start-ups with high-growth potential with solutions to address a set of air quality and mobility challenges.

Collaboration is critical to delivering innovative solutions to combat challenges in sustainable mobility and air quality.  SIMULATE is a partnership between Staffordshire County Council, AMEY, Keele University and the Connected Places Catapult. The programme aims to provide the environment and framework for game-changing SMEs with new solutions to trial and incubate their concepts, with the ultimate aim of them being adopted into the local and strategic road network.

SMEs have until 17 April 2020 to submit their ideas and will be selected through an outcome-focused bidding process, culminating in a dragon’s den style event. Successful entrants will be provided with a bespoke six-month incubation programme to develop their solution, with product development and technical mentorship. Successful SME’s will then have the opportunity to secure funding for live trials within the programme.

SIMULATE’s four mobility challenges are centered around tackling sustainable transport problems within a rural county:

  • Clean Community – connecting communities with quick and carbon-neutral mobility options
  • Dynamic Connections – providing a service that connects both urban and rural dwellings with critical amenities
  • Rapid Transit – delivering a rapid point-to-point solution that takes into consideration the volume of users at different times throughout the day
  • Integration and Behavioural Change – seeking solutions to address the shift in attitudes and behaviours that are needed when moving from single-use and private vehicles to a different mobility model

Running alongside these challenges, SIMULATE is also looking for solutions that can be deployed to tackle air pollution in areas with poor quality in Staffordshire, with three AQMAs selected as test environments for trialling new solutions.

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport Helen Fisher said: “The SIMULATE project is exciting not just for Staffordshire but for transport innovation and community improvement nationwide. We have a strong working relationship with Keele University through our deal and with Amey as our highways delivery partner and look forward to completing this partnership with industry experts Connected Places Catapult.

“Innovative solutions can improve efficiency both for highways managers and residents, drive down costs and improve air quality leading to better health. It is fantastic to be able to use the ‘small town’ that exists as part of the university campus to create the living laboratory whilst at the same time benefiting local small business and students’ research. We look forward to discovering from the successful SMEs how new technologies can be used and how they complement each other to improve community highways and road users’ experiences and their health.”

Sunita Dulai, Head of Business Improvement, Amey, said: “SIMULATE is a fantastic programme that is giving SMEs the opportunity to showcase and further develop their innovative solutions to the mobility challenges that have been identified in Staffordshire. Working in collaboration with the SIMULATE partners and SMEs will enable us to tackle the connectivity and environmental challenges the industry and our communities are facing.”

Giles Perkins, Programme Director for Live Labs said: “The SIMULATE initiative, as part of the wider Live Labs programme, represents a major opportunity for innovators to play a key role in rapidly accelerating technology solutions in the local roads space. We look forward to seeing exciting ideas in practice in Staffordshire.”

Prospective entrants looking to apply to be involved with the SIMULATE programme can find out more information about the challenges and the requirements needed to apply here:

Once the challenges close on 17 April 2020, a shortlist of participants will be invited to a ‘dragons’ den’ event to present their solution to a panel of experts from the partnership. Successful applicants will then be invited to join the SIMULATE Accelerator Programme that is being run jointly by Amey and Connected Places Catapult.

The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) represents local authority county, unitary and metropolitan directors. The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme is a two-year £22.9million project funded by the Department for Transport and supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, O2, Ringway and WSP. Local authorities are working on eight projects to introduce digital innovation across SMART mobility, transport, highways maintenance, data, energy and communications. Live Labs is part of ADEPT’s SMART Places programme to support the use of digital technology in place-based services.

About ADEPT Smart Places Live Labs programme:

The ADEPT SMART Places Programme is a five-year project examining and developing innovation to enable the adoption of innovative and digital technology across the local highway network. The initial research report ‘Digital Innovation: The route to the highways systems of the future’ was published in October 2017. In January 2019, ADEPT secured £22.9m funding from the Department of Transport for Phase 3 of the programme, which will see the development of eight individual Live Labs projects led by local authorities with university and private sector partners. The Live Labs are piloting innovation across SMART communications, transport, highways maintenance, energy, materials and mobility.