Innovate 4 Rail

The Innovate 4 Rail project has been created to stimulate and support innovation and drive productivity among small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Rail Sector Supply Chains.

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Collaborative expertise

The project is a three year collaboration between the University of DerbyUniversity of Birmingham and the Rail Forum that started in July 2020 and will continue until the end of June 2023. The collaboration is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Innovate 4 Rail provides practical support across a range of technologies to develop new products and solutions for the rail industry through supported access to facilities at the Universities of Derby and Birmingham and facilitated themed events/workshops.

Access technical, research and business support

The Innovate 4 Rail project provides eligible SMEs with practical support to develop new products and solutions for the rail industry. The project is delivered through the following three elements:

Access to a regular programme of events and workshops helping to raise SME awareness and capacity for innovation within rail. The workshops are primarily delivered in Derby and cover a range of topics including:

  • Get into Rail (for new entrants to the rail sector)
  • Meet the Engineer
  • Asset Management
  • Systems Integration
  • Digital Railway Opportunities
  • Digital Twin for Rail

This includes an assessment of the suitability for rail and scoping of potential new products, services or processes that could benefit from further project support. All delivery partners will participate in this element.

SMEs with a scoped project are supported through a collaborative research and innovation project involving technical and academic support from both university partners. This includes access to state of the art laboratories with purpose-built test rigs for true railway simulation, converting test data into information about performance, safety and durability. Both University partners participate in this element.

In summary, participating SMEs have access to the following, where appropriate:

  • Academic and technical specialists
  • Laboratory facilities at BCRRE, University of Birmingham
  • Rail Research and Innovation Centre lab based demonstrators at the University of Derby
  • Real Track Testing at outdoor test facility
Railway track

Sustainable fuels for rail freight

The ground-breaking HyDEX project is responding to calls from the rail freight industry to accelerate the transition to net zero.

Find out more about the collaboration with the University of NottinghamFind out more about the collaboration with the University of Nottingham

Areas of support 

Support will be available across a range of technologies, but advanced digital technologies will be an area of focus reflecting the potential for Industry 4.0 applications in rail to:

  • Improve operational efficiencies and reduce cost
  • Improve asset management and performance
  • Reduce disruptive interventions in the rail corridor
  • Improve systems availability through improved reliability
  • Deliver improved passenger experience

Examples of areas where the project will provide collaborative research and innovation support to SMEs include:

  • Advanced rail composite design and manufacture
  • Rail data analytics (Big Data)
  • Additive manufacture applications for rail
  • Artificial Intelligence applications throughout the asset lifecycle
  • Application of Internet of Things (IoT) and Cybersecurity
  • Condition Monitoring, Information Systems and Control Systems development
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Future Railway Operations, Revenue Collection and Traffic Management
  • Product and System Design and development for Rolling Stock and Infrastructure
  • Energy Optimisation
  • BIM Applications and Tools Development
  • Data integration and cybersecurity
Woman standing at podium talking to event audience

Business events

Advance your knowledge and grow your network: these are our upcoming events for business people, most of which are free to attend. They include conferences and networking events, business advice workshops, and public lectures.

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Advanced Composites Research Centre

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A modern train travelling at speed

Supporting Derby's Rail Sector

The University of Derby has been playing its part in supporting a dynamic rail cluster in the city, through R&D collaborations with rail companies, a new research centre specialising in rail, knowledge exchange collaborations with other universities and our engagement with members of the Rail Forum.

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Find out more

If your businesses is interested in participating in the programme, please complete the form below for further information.

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