The UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), the £92 million partnership between academia and industry, has launched a new Technology and Innovation Hub at Unipart Rail’s Headquarters in Doncaster.
Led by Unipart Rail, the new Hub will support the sector in translating academic research and innovation to solve strategic industry challenges and to enable and develop the next generation of products and services. It will have a particular focus in supporting SMEs, both those established and new to the industry.
The Hub features information and interactive displays on the UKRRIN Centres of Excellence, the Network Rail Research and Development Portfolio and a range of different innovations from across the industry. It has been supported by leading universities including Huddersfield, Southampton and Birmingham and organisations including Network Rail, Unipart Rail, RSSB and the Railway Industry Association (RIA).
“Unipart Rail is extremely proud to be a founding member of UKRRIN and now the home of the UKRRIN technology hub,” said Neil McNicholas, Managing Director at Unipart Rail. “Our wealth of knowledge, expertise and industry experience positions us as the ideal collaborative partner for SMEs, enabling them to revolutionise the delivery of innovative technology, whilst overcoming barriers to entry.”
The Hub is specifically aimed to bring academia, research and development, and industry much closer together to work in partnership to deliver innovation into the sector. It is hoped the Hub will play a key role in supporting new technology and digital solutions from inception through to market deployment and make a major contribution in the transformation and modernisation of the rail network.
“I am delighted that UKRRIN is continuing to grow its scope and physical presence with the addition of the new Technology and Innovation Hub, said Prof Clive Roberts, Professor of Railway Systems, Head of School of Engineering, Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education and Lead for UKRRIN. “UKRRIN is a truly open network, which allows new industry and academic partners to add new capabilities. The new hub will both act as a location from which we can engage new participants, for example through our Sheffield City Region LEP funded SME-focussed DigiRail programme, and for outputs of UKRRIN to be demonstrated to stakeholders.”
Speaking about the latest addition to the UKRRIN network, David Clarke, Technical Director of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “The whole network provides access to the best brains and facilities in UK rail and the new Technology and Innovation Hub is particularly welcome with its focus on supporting SMEs by helping get their products to market, thereby solving real rail industry challenges. All too often innovators underestimate what is needed to move from prototype to approvals and then sales, so the hub will be vital in helping them on that journey.”
The Hub was launched at an event on Wednesday 22 September covering the theme of ‘Where Great Ideas Converge’ with a number of UK rail leaders’ providing insights into innovation and digital transformation.