Press Release

Unlocking Innovation 2022 Programme launched!

18 November 2021

The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the UK rail supply community, has launched its 2022 Unlocking Innovation programme, with a range of events and activities throughout the year.

Unlocking Innovation is RIA's leading initiative to bring together clients and innovators in rail and promote the work they do. Having run for more than a decade, this year Unlocking Innovation will focus on the theme of 'Getting Ready for Great British Railways', covering how the railway sector can prepare for the coming industry restructure. 

The Unlocking Innovation 2022 programme will involve:

David Clarke, Technical Director at the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: "I am very excited to present the 2022 programme for Unlocking Innovation, which is jam-packed full of exciting events and activities to support innovation across the rail industry.

"For more than a decade, Unlocking Innovation has been bringing clients and innovators together and promoting rail's role as a state-of-the-art, innovative sector that is delivering new products and services to benefit those who use the railways. 

"Following the Coronavirus pandemic, and as the industry embarks on a major reforms, it is vital the sector is able to continue adapting and improving through innovation. So, our theme this year is 'Getting Ready for Great British Railways', focusing on how we ensure we grasp the opportunities and overcome the challenges posed by moving to GBR.

"I'd like to thank our strategic partners, Network Rail and UKRRIN, as well as all those we are working with in 2022, to deliver our Unlocking Innovation programme."
David Rowe, Head of Strategy at Network Rail, said: "We're delighted to be working with RIA's Unlocking Innovation programme for 2022.

"Last year, we saw the number of professionals in rail saying they see the sector as 'extremely, very or quite innovative’ increase by 12% from 2019 levels, showing that perceptions of our railway industry as innovative are getting better. But there is still so much more to do to promote new thinking and ways of working, including through support for Network Rail's R&D Portfolio and the wide range of projects contained in it.

"We look forward to working with RIA on their strong programme of activities and events in 2022!"
Jo Binstead, Chair of UKRRIN, said: "Innovation is critical to any sector, which is why UKRRIN is working to bring academia together with industry to ensure new ideas can be turned into innovative products and services that have a real impact on rail customers.

"It is a really exciting time for UKRRIN - last year saw the launch of our new Technology and Innovation Hub with Unipart Rail and the opening of the new rail research building at the University of Birmingham. We're looking forward to another great year working with RIA and partners to promote innovation in rail."
Unlocking Innovation is organised in partnership with Network Rail's R&D Portfolio and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).
Notes to Editors

  1. Press passes are available for the RIA Innovation Conference, Passenger Experience Event and Digital for Rail Event. Please email to secure a press pass.

  2. About the Unlocking Innovation Programme: RIA’s Unlocking Innovation events bring together the people with ideas and ambition to drive change within the rail industry. The events create a platform for large and small companies, academics and innovators with the aim of developing and implementing improved products and services to meet the needs of industry clients. Unlocking Innovation events also aim to create new supply chains, to build value and benefit the UK economy, rail suppliers and ultimately the customers, the rail users.

  3. About the Network Rail R&D Programme: Network Rail have made an investment £245m into the R&D portfolio in a bid to enhance invention and creativity in products, systems and equipment that will develop the industry and ultimately benefit rail users. Find out more here.

  4. About 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 launched in 2018 and has four Centres of Excellence, covering Digital Systems, Rolling Stock, Infrastructure and Testing, formed by a consortium of universities, in collaboration with existing industry testing and trialling facilities such as Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centres. Centres were created in Digital Systems (led by University of Birmingham), Rolling Stock (led by University of Huddersfield, in partner-ship with Newcastle University and Loughborough University) and Infrastructure (led by University of Southampton, in partnership with the University of Nottingham, the University of Sheffield, Loughborough University and Heriot-Watt University). Some £92m of total funding was committed to the centres by the UK Government and leading industrial partners.

  5.  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 300+ 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).

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