Freight Innovation Fund
Accelerator 2024

Applications are now closed.

What is the Freight Innovation Fund?

The UK Government has committed to a dedicated £7m cross-modal Freight Innovation Fund (FIF) as part of the Future of Freight strategy, which sets out the Government’s long-term vision for the UK freight sector. Funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and delivered through Connected Places Catapult, the Freight Innovation Fund is a multi-faceted programme which will accelerate the adoption of commercially ready solutions into the sector.

About the Accelerator Programme 2024

The Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator will support up to 10 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to trial their solutions in real-world environments to help solve pressing challenges within the freight sector. The SMEs will be selected by the DfT and Connected Places Catapult to join a 6-month programme, where each of them can access up to £150,000 of grant funding to trial their solutions.

SMEs have two options when applying to the programme:

  • Apply to be matched with an industry partner

    Connected Places Catapult will work with industry partners, who will provide access to testing environments and internal expertise. They will also play an active role in the SME selection as part of the due diligence process.

    The industry partners supporting the accelerator programme are Maritime Transport, Freightliner, Wincanton, FedEx Express, Portsmouth International Port, Port of Tyne and DP World UK. If you would like to get additional details about the programme partners, their motivations, potential trial facilities and resources available, you can view them here.

  • Apply with your own Industry Partner

    We also welcome applications from SMEs who already have a partner they wish to trial their solutions with and can offer access to testbed facilities.

Bespoke Support for Successful SMEs

As part of the programme, SMEs will also benefit from trial and business support tailored to their needs. This will include but is not limited to trial design training, monitoring and evaluation, investment readiness, pitch coaching, marketing support, and business modelling.

All applicants will also be able to join the Freight Innovation Cluster, a community for stakeholders operating in the freight industry. Learn more here

Application Support Webinar

We held an application support webinar on 1 November with the DfT, which included an overview of the programme, challenges, guidance on the application process and a live Q&A.

Watch the recording here

Key Dates

1: Frequent use heavy machinery

  • Large reductions in machinery fuel consumption, or technologies that support immediate adoption of alternative power sources.
  • Flexible Material Handling Equipment/plant that can be used with multiple types of difficult to handle goods – especially construction freight.
  • Improvements to depot movement and rail freight loading vehicles’ speed and efficiency.
  • Improvements to cranes, straddle carriers, and reach stackers’ speed, accuracy, and consistency of output.
  • Reduction or elimination of accidents and damages through new technologies or automation.

2: Containment Solutions and Related Light Technologies

  • Containment solutions that significantly improve loading and unloading times.
  • Equipment that supports optimal use of loading capacity, and/or more efficient brokerage of capacity.
  • Containers with quicker, safer access points for use on rail and other modes.
  • Containers or adaptations especially suited for construction freight.
  • Containers which are suitable for road and rail that improve capacity of other solutions such as pallets and tote boxes.
  • Containment Identification recording and tracking solutions, especially systems/arrays that are extremely accurate and reliable within outdoor depot spaces.
  • Spatial monitoring and movement or storage optimisation hardware.
  • Safety and monitoring systems that prevent fire, hazards, and damage.

3: Temporary Intermodal Interchanges and Depots

  • Improved short-term temporary depot innovations for small and large projects, including loading/ unloading technologies that are less capital intensive than permanent facilities, but more efficient and effective than current short-term yellow machinery approaches.
  • Innovations that can support big peaks and troughs in depot demand.
  • Responding to vehicles in waiting by creating on-demand depots or flexible expansions to depots.
  • Expanding capacity via increased depot possibilities on existing routes, including road-rail interchanges on spurs and sidings.
  • Adaptations that support noiseless terminal operations, or significant reductions in dust.

4: Micromobility and E-Mobility

  • New vehicle types that can rely on existing infrastructure.
  • Expanding freight carrying abilities to existing e-mobility and micro-mobility vehicles.
  • Improvements to existing freight carrying e-mobility and micro-mobility vehicles.
  • New light-touch interchanges that unlock the potential of micro-mobility to connect to existing major modes without extensive machinery.
  • New freight vehicles or adaptations that are suitable for urban and rural areas.
  • Better food and drink courier vehicles, and new, sustainable, and electric modes.

What’s on offer to SMEs?


Access up to £150k in grant funding + 30% of total project costs in in-kind match funds from SMEs

More info

Match Funding

DfT will provide up to £150,000 in grant funding to each successful SME, the specific grant amount will be determined based on the trial proposal submitted.

To foster a collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership, SMEs are expected to contribute 30% of the total project cost as matching funds. For instance, if the overall project expenses amount to £100,000, you should apply for £70,000 in grant funding from the Freight Innovation Fund programme while providing £30,000 in matching funds.

Designed to be in-kind, the matching fund could include but is not limited to:

  • Labour costs
  • Overheads
  • Materials costs
  • Capital usage (property, equipment, facilities, others)
  • Subcontractor costs
  • Travel and subsistence costs
  • Other costs – Workshop/lab usage charge outs, training costs, preparation of technical reports, market assessment, licensing in new technologies and patent filing costs of new IP.

Grant Payment Structure: 60% upfront when the programme live starts and 40% at the end of the programme.

Trial Support

This could include, but is not limited to trial design training, deployment support, trial monitoring and evaluation support.

Investment Support

One-to-one sessions with an experienced investment coach.

Marketing Support

One-to-one sessions with an experienced marketing coach.

Demonstration Day

An opportunity to showcase the success of your trials and meet investors, industry leaders, Government and academia at the end of the programme.

Business Development

Business development opportunities and introductions to potential customers.

Membership of the Freight Innovation Cluster

Am I eligible for this programme?

At the point of application:

  • You must be an SME
  • You must have registered a UK company address
  • You must have operations in the UK
  • You must be willing to test in a real-world environment
  • You must be able to address at least one of the accelerator challenge statements
  • You must have an innovative solution at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 +

Point of contact

If you have any questions about the programme and application, please contact:

Andrea Perez Cipollitti, Accelerator Programme Manager

Application Support Webinar

We held an application support webinar on 1 November with the DfT, which included an overview of the programme, challenges, guidance on the application process and a live Q&A.

Watch the recording here

Equality & Diversity

Connected Places Catapult and the Department for Transport are collecting equality, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) data as part of the application process to promote and ensure equality of access for the programmes it delivers. This data will help us monitor the performance of efforts to promote ED&I in research and business innovation. All personal data will be processed in accordance with current UK data protection legislation, including the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

Connected Places Catapult are part of the Catapult Network Inclusivity in Innovation Charter