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Skybus: The Public Transport Revolution

Skybus is an innovative air mobility concept which could represent a significant advancement for transport in the UK.

With a range of 25-100 miles and a capacity of 30-50 passengers, the Skybus concept could greatly complement existing transport modes.

This white paper highlights the potential of this technology including travel time savings, environmental benefits and reduced congestion. It presents the findings of initial demand and price modelling, as well as a competitive and benefits analysis, and presents recommendations for further analysis.

Connected Places Catapult worked closely with Skybus lead GKN as well as partners Pascall+Watson and Swanson Aviation Consultancy to assess the potential of Skybus.

Skybus: The Public Transport Revolution White Paper
File Type: pdfFile size: 0.8MB
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Future of Air Mobility Accelerator Application Support Webinar

Connected Places Catapult will be hosting an application support webinar for our Future of Air Mobility accelerator to share information and answer any questions applicants may have.

When and where?

Online event
23rd August 2022
3:30pm - 5:00pm

The Future of Air Mobility accelerator (FoAM) is a challenge-led, 6-month accelerator programme powered by Connected Places Catapult and in partnership with the Future Flight Challenge from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The Catapult will select up to 12 SMEs to join the programme where they will receive support from a consortium of industry, government, academic and regulatory partners on the trial and testing of disruptive innovations. Through a focus on new and emerging challenges within the aviation ecosystem, FoAM will work alongside a consortium of partners to ensure that the programme tackles significant sector challenges and de-risks innovation in the marketplace.

The SMEs selected will have the opportunity to trial their solutions and will be guided through a bespoke programme tailored to their requirements. The programme will include investment readiness, technology and product development support, alongside introductions to aviation stakeholders and potential customers. These activities will be co-designed with the cohort of SMEs to support them in growing their businesses and adapting their propositions to the partners’ requirements.

This application support webinar will cover the overall programme vision, the journey of the programme to date, the programme challenges and guidance on the application process.

To find more about the programme and to apply, simply click here.

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Future of Air Mobility Accelerator 2022

Connected Places Catapult is seeking SMEs with innovative solutions to join a 6-month accelerator programme for the aviation industry.

Connected Places Catapult has partnered with the Future Flight Challenge from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to launch the second iteration of the Future of Air Mobility Accelerator. We will select up to 12 SMEs to join a 6-month programme to receive support from a consortium of industry, academic and regulatory partners on the trial and testing of their disruptive innovative solutions. 

The challenge areas for FoAM 2022 are: 

  1. Future Airport and Vertiport Operations 
  2. Aviation Sustainability 
  3. Future Air and Space Traffic Management 
  4. Enabling End-to-End Mobility 

The accelerator will support the cohort of SMEs through a bespoke programme tailored to their requirements. This support will include investment readiness, technology and product development, alongside introductions to aviation stakeholders and potential customers. These activities will be co-designed with the cohort of SMEs to support them in growing their businesses and adapting their propositions to the partners’ requirements. 

This year’s consortium consists of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Supernal, GKN, Heathrow Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Cranfield University and Coventry University. 

Webinar

On 23rd August between 3 – 5:30pm, Connected Places Catapult will host the Future of Air Mobility Accelerator application support webinar to share information and answer any questions applicants may have. 

The webinar will include an overview of the programme set-up, presentations from partners and information on the challenges that have been set. It will also outline the overall programme vision and provide guidance on the application process.   

Register for the webinar here.

Apply

Applications to the Future of Air Mobility Accelerator 2022 (FoAM) are now open until September 11th. To find out more information about the programme and apply, please visit our programme page. 

Apply Here
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Accelerating the Future of Air Mobility

Over the past six months, Connected Places Catapult, in partnership with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Flight Challenge, embarked on a journey to select and fund 11 SMEs to trial and test their solutions in areas of data driven aviation, smart airports and advanced air mobility. 

SMEs working on new aviation technologies get support to scale.

Alongside access to funding for trials and testbeds for demonstrations, the SMEs received mentorship and support from a consortium of industry partners, academic institutions, and regulatory bodies. These included: UK Civil Aviation Authority, British Standards Institute, AGS Airports, Heathrow Airport, GKN Aerospace, Supernal, Cranfield University, Coventry University, with access to the facilities at Snowdonia Aerospace. 

The programme demonstrated not only the art of the possible for new aviation technologies but how, by collaborating across the industry, we can test, validate, and accelerate these technologies to market successfully. The SMEs on the programme represented an array of technologies, from simulations of how flying taxis could integrate into the skies of London; to demonstrating new systems and technologies that power the future of flight; to supporting airports to achieve net zero through autonomy, airside asset monitoring and optimising energy usage.  

Connected Places Catapult delivered the programme in partnership with Plus X, where together they supported the SMEs through a bespoke programme tailored to their requirements. This included support on areas such as investment readiness, business modelling and product development, alongside introductions to aviation stakeholders and investors through networking events.  

The programme was co-designed with the SMEs to scale their businesses and adapt their propositions to the requirements of the partners and the wider industry. The funded trials together with mentorship provided, supported the cohort in raising over £5.5 million in investment, securing over £6 million in grant funding, securing new commercial clients, alongside creating over 65 new jobs whilst on the programme. 

The programme culminated with a Demo Day exhibition and VIP Dinner at Aerospace Bristol, where the SMEs showcased their achievements from their trials to a rich audience of industry, government, investor and policy leaders. Followed by an evening of fine dining and networking underneath the imposing Concorde. 

To learn more about the programme and the SMEs that were selected for cohort 1, make sure to watch the programme showreel video. 

Connected Places Catapult would like to thank all the partners and contributors involved. The team is excited to be scoping out the second programme to support more SMEs in this space, due to launch in Autumn 2022. 

If you are interested in being involved in the next programme, either as a partner or SME, please reach out to Alice Johnson, Accelerator Team Lead.

Find out more about our work in Aviation here.

Hear from the consortium here:

“We are committed to a more sustainable future for aviation. We believe it will take a range of technologies and intensive collaboration across the whole industry to achieve our net zero goal. Although the Future of Air Mobility Accelerator programme is in its early stages, it is a great example of the partnership approach that is required. We’re delighted to work with SME’s and partners to explore the future of flight.”  
Furqan, Technology Manager Future Flight, GKN Aerospace
We were thrilled to be working with these SMEs and our industry partners to trial new, sustainable and innovative technologies that would help strengthen the UK’s world-class aviation sector, especially as it recovers from the impacts of the pandemic. We look forward to seeing these concepts brought to life and hope to be able to implement some of this technology on our own airfield in the future.” 
Kathryn Leahy, Director of Operations, Heathrow Airport
“We were delighted to be involved in the Future of Air Mobility Accelerator programme. We strongly believe that Airports have a key role to play in supporting the development of safe, sustainable and efficient frameworks enabling the delivery of the future aviation market. 

 “Being involved allowed us to provide insight and advice to SMEs which is important as they develop disruptive technologies for the aviation industry.” 

Fiona Smith, Group Head of Aerodrome Strategy, AGS Airports
We’re delighted to be supporting the Future of Air Mobility Accelerator and are proud to be working with some of the exciting new businesses being supported by the programme. This is a fast-moving area, with developments evolving on a week-by-week basis – data and digital aviation technologies are transforming the air transport sector and SMEs are playing a key role in that future.” 
Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace, Cranfield University
“Coventry University, through the National Transport Design Centre, is delighted to support the Connected Places Catapult’s ‘Future of Air Mobility’ accelerator. The university has a long history of supporting SMEs and this strategically important initiative ideally complements the centre’s research themes in Urban Air Mobility and electric Vertical Take off and Landing vehicles. We are therefore looking forward to helping SMEs develop disruptive technologies in the aviation industry.”
Kevin Vincent, Director at Centre for Connected and Autonomous Research, Coventry University
Through Coventry University’s contribution to the Future Flight Challengefunded AirOne project, here at the National Transport Design Centre our research focused on understanding the customer journey and making the Air One facility accessible to all, easy to navigate and a pleasure to use. We did this using immersive Virtual Reality to allow people to experience and contribute to the design of this innovative transport system of the future. 
Dr Stewart Birrel, Professor of Human Factors for Future Transport, Coventry University
“The Connected Places Catapult Future Air Mobility Accelerator programme has been a really useful programme for the UK Civil Aviation Authority Innovation Hub to be involved with. It has provided us with a range of different use cases to explore regulatory challenges and has helped to further our understanding of the priority areas for innovations in their earlier stages”. 
Rory Hedman, Innovation Services Principal, UK Civil Aviation Authority
“Our engagement as a partner on the Future of Air Mobility accelerator has shown that standards will play an enabling role in the development of the air mobility market, technologies, and business, helping to bring products and services to market safely and successfully. BSI is looking ahead to future work in this sector working across the industry and with key stakeholders in developing standards and solutions in support of innovation and sustainability across the aviation sector.
Nick Fleming, Associate Director, Transport and Mobility Standards, British Standards Institution
This is an incredibly exciting time for innovation in air mobility. New technologies and approaches are emerging and rapidly transforming the way we move people and goods around the world and within our cities. For Plus X, it has been an absolute pleasure working alongside such a committed group of partners over the past 6 months. Everyone has pulled together to create opportunities for the exciting SMEs taking part to validate their technology and develop their commercial success. It is clear that many of the innovators on this programme will lead the air mobility revolution ahead of us and we can wait to see what they go on to achieve.”
Toby Kress, Programme Director, Plus X
”The Future Flight challenge is all about advancing aviation technologies and encouraging their spread into society. Around 80% of our funding has been given to SMEs and we recognise how vital they are to the growth of the UK aviation industry. I have no doubt that the innovative ideas produced by these 11 SMEs, addressing issues across data driven aviation, smart airports and advanced air mobility will help shape a new era of flight in the UK.” 
Simon Masters, Deputy Challenge Director of the Future Flight Challenge, UK Research and Innovation
“As the premier commercial test centre for new and novel aerospace in the UK, the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre was delighted to assist the Connected Places Catapult in facilitating the demonstrations of future air mobility and we look forward to supporting further exciting flight test developments.”
Lee Paul, Chief Executive Officer, Snowdonia Aerospace LLP
“We are so delighted with the success of our first Future of Air Mobility Accelerator, how the SMEs and partners collaborated, and the excellent response we have had to the entire process from aviation stakeholders. Innovation and collaboration are the key to the regeneration and growth of the aviation industry, and we are delighted to play in a leading role in this. We are looking forward to progressing this ambition further in our second Future of Air Mobility Accelerator.” 
Andrew Chadwick, Aviation Technology Innovation Lead, Connected Places Catapult
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Speed up zero emission vehicle usage across cities or risk missing decarbonisation targets, report urges

The report commissioned by the Urban Transport Group and Connected Places Catapult, and prepared by Arup, suggests a fragmented approach to decarbonising urban vehicle fleets puts those targets at risk.

A more cohesive approach to accelerating the uptake of zero emission vehicles – from buses and cars to bikes and scooters – across the UK’s city regions is vital if ambitious city-wide and national decarbonisation targets are to be achieved, a new report urges.

Transport is the single biggest contributor (by sector) to UK greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for 27% of emissions, with 91% of this from road transport*. Decarbonising transport will therefore be vital if the UK’s national target of net zero emissions by 2050 is to be met, as well as city region’s own net zero ambitions, of which target dates range from 2030 to 2048.

The report sets out the challenges city regions face in decarbonising urban vehicles, which includes private vehicles as well as public sector fleets, and also the opportunities to overcome barriers and make real progress.

The challenges, examined across six themes (see notes to editors), range from staffing capacity at local authorities, a lack of cohesive national policy and the absence of strategic and coordinated funding, whilst opportunities are presented in further devolution of powers to city regions, innovation and infrastructure design.

The report also sets out a roadmap detailing how the journey to net zero by 2050 is achieved through each of the six themes.

The report concludes by saying, The Government has made decarbonising vehicle fleets a policy priority and made significant funding available for this task. However, the report finds that there is a need for greater cohesion of national policy with less fragmentation between both the approach taken to different transport modes (cars, buses, taxis, new mobility and so on) as well as with the provision of supporting green energy infrastructure. If all urban vehicles are to be decarbonised as rapidly and efficiently as possible then there is also a need for government to involve the city regions more closely in the formulation and implementation of policy.’

“Alongside promoting modal shift we are investing heavily in supporting the decarbonisation of the vehicles on our streets but we know we will need go faster and further if we are to meet our ambitious Net Zero targets. This report sets out in detail how best this can be achieved. But in essence we need more resource locally given the scale of the task, we need to look at all vehicle types and the supporting energy infrastructure together and the city regions need a seat at the top table when the key decisions are being made.

Laura Shoaf, Chair of the Urban Transport Group, and Chief Executive at West Midlands Combined Authority
“Current approaches to making urban transport greener are fragmented. Beyond public sector fleets under their direct control, local authorities face the challenge of encouraging and incentivising communities to ditch the fossil fuel car addiction and opt for sustainable alternatives.

“This report sets out the conditions required to deliver a joined-up approach to decarbonising urban transport. From ensuring local authorities are sufficiently staffed to pulling the right policy levers; from coordinated infrastructure design to long-term funding models – only by addressing this challenge holistically and collaboratively can we hope to achieve a greener future.”

Alex Cousins, Business Director - Devolved Government (Interim), Connected Places Catapult

The findings of the report drew on interviews with officers from Urban Transport Group’s member transport authorities, workshops conducted by Connected Places Catapult and an online survey with key external stakeholders.

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Decarbonising Urban Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities for City Region Public Authorities

Transport is the single biggest contributor (by sector) to UK greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for 27% of emissions, with 91% of this from road transport*.

Decarbonising transport will therefore be vital if the UK’s national target of net zero emissions by 2050 is to be met, as well as city region’s own net zero ambitions, of which target dates range from 2030 to 2048.

The report sets out the challenges city regions face in decarbonising urban vehicles, which includes private vehicles as well as public sector fleets, and also the opportunities to overcome barriers and make real progress.

The report also sets out a roadmap detailing how the journey to net zero by 2050 is achieved through each of the six themes.

Decarbonising Urban Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities for City Region Public Authorities
File Type: pdfFile size: 13.3MB

The report concludes by saying, The Government has made decarbonising vehicle fleets a policy priority and made significant funding available for this task. However, the report finds that there is a need for greater cohesion of national policy with less fragmentation between both the approach taken to different transport modes (cars, buses, taxis, new mobility and so on) as well as with the provision of supporting green energy infrastructure. If all urban vehicles are to be decarbonised as rapidly and efficiently as possible then there is also a need for government to involve the city regions more closely in the formulation and implementation of policy.’

The findings of the report drew on interviews with officers from Urban Transport Group’s member transport authorities, workshops conducted by Connected Places Catapult and an online survey with key external stakeholders.