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Dynamic Programme announced to unlocking rail innovation in 2024 


25 January 2024

Telent joins as a third Strategic Partner of the programme
RIA announces the 2024 programme focusing on closer connections to nations and regions

The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is pleased to announce that Telent is joining the Unlocking Innovation programme as a Strategic Partner, alongside Network Rail RD&I and UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN). 

RIA’s Unlocking Innovation programme promotes and highlights the many innovations and developments happening across UK rail and to connect businesses in identifying new opportunities to innovate. 

Telent is a longstanding RIA member company, which designs, builds, supports and manages critical digital infrastructure. 

Telent’s Director of Rail Kevin Bonanno said: “UK Rail is facing many challenges – ageing infrastructure, obsolete systems, climate change – which all lead to operational uncertainty and although well-funded, UK Rail is not funded sufficiently to address these issues without doing things differently.  Innovative technology solutions are key to addressing these challenges. Telent has a proud history of innovation and of transforming legacy analogue infrastructures into future proofed digital environments. Being part of RIA’s acclaimed Unlocking Innovation programme will allow us to support SMEs and innovators in bringing and deploying their solutions to Britain’s Railways.”

RIA Innovation Director Milda Manomaityte said: “We are delighted to welcome Telent as the third Strategic Partner of the Unlocking Innovation programme, strengthening the collaboration and bringing new ideas. This year we are planning a series of Unlocking Innovation events across the UK’s nations and regions to connect with local stakeholders, suppliers and researchers. Unlocking Innovation “on tour” aims to work closely with Network Rail’s routes and regions as well as regional transport bodies to bring together the innovation community and local railway stakeholders for a showcase of market-ready innovations, R&D work, funding and accelerator programmes, as well as testing capabilities.” 

Gareth Evans, Head of Rail Technology, flagged: "We are really looking forward to the Unlocking Innovation Programme for 2024. This is an opportunity to engage with supply chain, share best practice and connect our regions and routes with technology that can help solve their challenges."

The programme will also support partner events seeking opportunities to engage with innovators from different sectors or investors from different countries. 

Unlocking Innovation 2024 Programme:
27-28 February – Unlocking Innovation Lounge at Interchange 2024, Manchester
26-27 March – RIA Innovation Conference 2024, Newport
30 April – Unlocking Innovation: Eastern, York
12 June – Unlocking Innovation: Southern, tbc
19-20 June – Innovation Showcase at RailLive 2024, Long Marston
24-27 September – Innovation Showcase at InnoTrans 2024, Berlin
24 October – Unlocking Innovation: Scotland, tbc
03 December – Unlocking Innovation: North West & Central, tbc

This year’s itinerary is an excellent opportunity for regional railway stakeholders to build connections with innovative suppliers and identify specific opportunities to introduce new technology and ways of working to their businesses.

Notes to Editors
  1. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has 350+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £43 billion in economic growth and £14 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 710,000 people. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK; for every £1 spent in rail, £2.50 is generated in the wider economy. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). 
  2. About Unlocking Innovation Programme: The Railway Industry Association’s Unlocking Innovation programme is aimed at promoting innovations and new developments within the sector. Through a series of events, articles, thought leadership reports and industry surveys, the programme seeks to understand the challenges innovators face, provide clarity for routes to market and connect individuals with ideas and the ability to make changes. Unlocking Innovation events are the centrepiece of the programme, bringing railway clients and suppliers together to share the latest innovations in the market and engage with academic institutions. This allows for a better understanding of research and development pipelines and opportunity to learn about funding and accelerator opportunities to bring innovations into the market. 
  3. Network Rail RD&I Portfolio: Research, development and innovation (RD&I) plays a vital role in unlocking opportunities in Network Rail and the wider rail sector to improve safety, reduce cost and achieve net zero, to improve the customer experience and to deliver a more sustainable railway system for future generations. 
  4. UKRRIN: The UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) is designed to create powerful collaboration between academia and industry, aiming to provide a step-change in innovation in the sector and accelerate new technologies and products from research into market applications globally. The initiative was built on the development of three Centres of Excellence formed by a consortium of universities, in collaboration with existing industry testing and trialling facilities and Network Rail. Some £92m of total funding was committed to the centres by the UK Government and leading industrial partners. 
  5. Telent Technology Services: Telent is a leading technology company and specialist in the design, build, support and management of the UK’s critical digital infrastructure, drawing on decades of experience in mission critical communications and technology. With a strong focus on key customer areas including transport, emergency services, network providers and the public sector, Telent’s expertise, accreditations and knowledge make them a trusted partner for organisations at the forefront of the digital revolution. 
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