UK’s first Evidence Centre for Inclusive Transport secures £20m Motability grant

New centre will work with disabled people, disabled people’s organisations and stakeholders from across the transport industry to undertake research and develop solutions which aim to make transport accessible for everyone.

Connected Places Catapult is working in collaboration with Coventry University, RiDC, Designability, Policy Connect and WSP UK to develop and run the UK’s first Evidence Centre for Inclusive Transport, with grant funding from Motability of £20 million over seven years. The centre will work with disabled people, disabled people’s organisations, transport providers and policy makers to both undertake research and develop solutions which aim to make transport accessible for everyone. 

Connected Places Catapult’s role will be to support the commercialisation of the Centre’s research outputs, supporting SMEs to deliver grant-funded research programmes. The Catapult will provide expertise in Human Connected Design and commercialisation, as well as access to its wide SME network, to develop inclusive business models, investment strategies and cross-sector collaboration activities. 

The Evidence Centre aims to transform the transport sector’s understanding of disabled people’s experiences of transport and to take the opportunity of emerging technology advances in transport and low carbon ambitions to improve the accessibility and reliability of transport for disabled people. The centre will convene disabled people and decision makers to drive for systems level change, helping realise Motability’s vision that no disabled person is disadvantaged due to poor access to transport. 

Right now, disabled people make 38% fewer journeys than non-disabled people – a figure that hasn’t changed in the last decade. This “transport accessibility gap” tells us that there is much more that transport providers need to do to make sure that disabled people can travel across road, rail, and air with ease. Motability are grant funding this Evidence Centre for inclusive transport with the primary aim of closing the transport accessibility gap. 

“As the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport and place leadership, it is a real honour for Connected Places Catapult to be a core part of the Motability Evidence Centre for Disability and Transport.

“We look forward to bringing a focus on the commercialisation of solutions that improve the experiences of disabled people. We will work with the other partners to deliver SME support, investment strategy and commercialisation activities – all underpinned by human-connected design.

“We are excited by the prospect of growing the UK’s marketplace for technologies that put people’s experience at the heart of innovation.”
Michael Edwards, Innovation Director at Connected Places Catapult
“After an extensive competition process, we are pleased to grant fund Coventry University, alongside RiDC, Designability, Connected Places Catapult, Policy Connect and WSP UK to run the UK’s first Evidence Centre for Inclusive Transport. The organisations bring their wealth of experience and expertise in transport design and the experiences of disabled people to help us to create longer-term solutions in travel accessibility.

We know that being unable to make the journeys they want or need to, has a huge impact on disabled people’s daily lives; from getting a job, to attending medical appointments, to seeing friends and family. While some solutions exist to help make transport accessible, the fact that the accessibility gap hasn’t improved in a decade shows that much more needs to be done.

The competition process has attracted lots of interest across the transport and disability sectors, which is vitally important for making transport more inclusive. I look forward to seeing the positive changes the Evidence Centre will make by working with disabled people, disabled people’s organisations, transport providers and policy makers to make transport accessible for everyone.”
Barry Le Grys, Chief Executive of Motability the charity
“We are delighted at Coventry University to have been chosen to lead the Evidence Centre. We look forward to starting this exciting project for which we have great passion; it builds upon our strengths at Coventry University of teaching and research in transport design and our track record of applied research delivering real impact.

We recognise the daily challenges still faced by disabled people in accessing transport in the UK, whilst this is a complex issue, it largely stems from today’s transport simply not being appropriate for the needs of disabled people. This poor provision of accessible transport leads to many disabled people facing real challenges in a range of key activities including education, employment, healthcare and being socially connected.

Research is needed to better understand disabled peoples’ lived experiences, needs, and wants in relation to transport. The Evidence Centre will house and deliver future research – with this much-needed new approach: the generous funding from Motability enables us to undertake innovative applied research that puts disabled people at the heart of the process. We will look to disabled people to help guide and inform our activities and to help shape the future of public and private transport in the UK. The Evidence Centre looks to make a real difference and to drive change with the intention of positively transforming the lives of disabled people.”
Paul Herriotts, Professor of Transport Design in the Centre for Future Transport and Cities at Coventry University

The Evidence Centre is expected to launch in early 2023.