£1.3 million to back cutting-edge transport projects

Organisations and academics can apply for TRIG funding to research innovative ideas to improve transport in the UK

  • new government competition to encourage innovative UK transport projects
  • a total of £1.3 million on offer to winning entries, boosting the economy and UK companies
  • new category for solutions to transport challenges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

A £1.3 million competition to transform the transport sector, grow the economy and inspire innovation has been launched today (17 April 2024).

The latest round of the government’s Transport Research and Innovation Grant (TRIG) is now open, with organisations and academics able to win up to £45,000 in funding.

The TRIG scheme, delivered by Connected Places Catapult, supports businesses and academics working on innovative ideas in the early stages of their research. It aims to improve transport across the country and support skilled UK jobs as part of the government’s plan to help grow the economy.

Previous TRIG winners have gone on to improve the passenger experience across the country through:

  • better connecting rural communities with a shuttle bus app
  • ensuring people can stay online whilst travelling by sea by expanding 5G data coverage
  • using AI technology to provide real-time insights to authorities on how local transport is being used so it can be improved
  • trialling the use of hydrogen to make plane and boat journeys greener.

Decarbonisation, Aviation and Technology Minister, Anthony Browne, said:

"As part of our plan to improve transport across the country, we’re continuing to back the TRIG competition which has funded hundreds of cutting-edge projects over more than a decade.

"Today’s competition launch means projects in their early stages can win tens of thousands of pounds to help improve transport and support skilled UK jobs in the process."

This year’s competition is seeking proposals focused on:

  • nation specific transport solutions – a new category for projects that address specific transport challenges in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to level up the whole of the UK’s transport system and boost connectivity

  • local transport decarbonisation – innovative ideas that accelerate the decarbonisation of local transport systems, demonstrating an understanding of the needs of local areas and communities, whilst also having the potential to be scaled up across the UK in the future

  • maritime decarbonisation – maritime solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the UK’s maritime sector to support the transition to net zero

  • critical and emerging technologies – ideas that utilise critical technologies, such as AI, or any emerging technologies, such as drones, to enable a resilient transport system delivering cheaper, cleaner, and quicker journeys for all

  • open call – wider solutions that have the potential to address a UK transport challenge, across the entire network, challenges and technology areas

This follows the success of last year’s TRIG competition, which saw 41 projects win funding, including a project that uses AI to reduce train station overcrowding, and a self-driving parcel delivery boat to reduce road congestion.

Applications for this year’s competition open today and close on the 21 May 2024.

Apply via the Connected Places Catapult website.

Erika Lewis, Chief Executive at Connected Places Catapult, said: 

"Innovation is at the heart of helping our transport system to improve services for people, allow goods to be delivered more effectively and to meet environmental targets. The Transport Research and Innovation Grants programme supports high-potential innovators to develop fresh ideas, providing financial assistance and a wide range of business support from Connected Places Catapult to help them realise their commercial potential.

"The TRIG programme has been running for 10 years and goes from strength to strength. If you have an innovative idea that you think could help tackle some of the UK’s transport challenges, I urge you to apply now."

TRIG has now been running for a decade, funding more than 400 companies with more than £14 million in investment. Projects have been wide-ranging, from solutions to improving the accessibility of transport to the future of freight. TRIG projects regularly progress to the demonstration and scaling stages of development, showing the scheme’s success in feeding a pipeline of innovation. 

The competition drives growth and onward investment in UK companies, with winners regularly delivering their solutions, resulting in benefits for passengers.

Following a decade of TRIG competitions, many winners have gone on to develop solutions that have real-world impact. For example, RideTandem has created an app-based shuttle bus service for employers and schools, aimed at areas where traditional public transport is not viable. This on-demand transport service helps to keep rural communities better connected in a flexible and sustainable way.

Tatseng Chiam, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at RideTandem, said: 

"TRIG support was essential in the early days of RideTandem, setting us on a path towards becoming one of the top 100 fastest-growing companies in the UK. An initial TRIG grant in 2019 enabled us to develop our first initial tech prototype, and we appreciated the TRIG team’s willingness to accommodate our product pivot during a challenging period in COVID-19. We’re delighted to have received further support from TRIG 2023 as we experiment with how AI-powered predictive analytics could be integrated into our tech platform."

Jet Connectivity has also gone on to deliver its 5G maritime network by deploying floating 5G buoys. By expanding data coverage to the open ocean, those at sea can stay connected to the mainland and seafarers are better able to communicate when faced with adverse weather conditions.

James Thomas, CEO at Jet Connectivity, said:

"TRIG was a fantastic opportunity to both work with Connected Places Catapult on helping grow our business but also in terms of getting end user stakeholder engagement from DfT and other potential customers. We’ve now grown substantially thanks to receiving this early-stage innovation funding and support."

From: Department for Transport and Anthony Browne MP