DfT offers grants of up to £100,000 to fund innovative transport projects

A pot of nearly £2 million has been set aside as part of the Transport Research and Innovation Grant 2021 programme, which has four challenges to address.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a funding programme to support innovation across the UK’s transport sector.

The Transport Research and Innovation Grant scheme, run in partnership with Connected Places Catapult, will offer funding of up to £100,000 to UK businesses that are running innovative proof-of-concept research projects.

According to its brief, the funding programme has been designed to “foster innovation and improve UK transport; generate growth in the sector; and build links between policy teams in DfT and innovators”.

Resilient transport systems

Funding opportunities are split into four challenges, as set out by the DfT. Across the four mini-briefs, it expects to fund 43 grants up to £30,000 and five up to £100,000 for its freight-related brief.

Designers may be particularly interested in challenges Two and Four, which relate to resilient transport systems and transport more generally respectively.

In the brief for challenge two, the DfT explains it is seeking innovations that will aid the continued recovery of the transport sector post-pandemic. Projects can be focused on supporting transport modes, passengers or staff (or a combination of the three).

This might include service or product and industrial design solutions, as briefing documents explain the scope of the challenge could extend anywhere from ventilation and filtration systems, to changing common perception around public transport.

The ultimate aim, The DfT says, will be improving preparedness and resilience for future pandemic and biosecurity threats.

Improving user experience and promoting decarbonisation

Meanwhile challenge Four is focused more generally on “real UK transport challenges”, across all modes and technology areas. Crucially, the DfT points out that those looking to get funding this way will have to have an idea aligned with its needs.

Potential areas of focus here include the decarbonisation of transport and improving the user experience of public transport. Similarly to challenge two, the scope is intentionally wide.

The former aim could include projects that focus on place-based solutions that support zero-emission networks, support the continued development of mature hydrogen transport systems or encourage people to make more sustainable travel choices.

The latter might include new technologies and digitalisation touchpoints, road safety interventions, or solutions for “emerging” vehicles like micro-mobility vehicles and automated shuttles.

Funding details

Under the guidelines, SMEs, and universities are allowed to apply for funding. The DfT points out too that a benefit of this programme will be the oversight given by its Office for Science and chief scientific advisor.

Further benefits include the chance for innovative ideas to contribute to policy, and support to ensure ideas are fit for market adoption.

The deadline for application is midnight on 7 November 2021.

To find out more about the funding programme, head to the Catapult website.

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