The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Innovation at the University of Birmingham announced the new Rail Innovation Cluster at InnoTrans, the International Trade Fair for Transport Technology, held in Berlin. Its vision is to support SMEs to deliver greater value and innovative capability in the rail supply chain, both in the UK and abroad.
Building on BCRRE’s many years of experience in assisting SMEs to enter the rail industry as startups or through diversification from other sectors, the cluster will focus on three core areas of activity:
- Innovation – collaborating with industry partners to accelerate and de-risk innovation projects;
- SMEs – supporting SMEs to innovate successfully, including developing collaborative projects utilising BCRRE’s world class research expertise;
- International – using BCRRE’s international partnerships to create opportunities for UK companies to collaborate globally.
The Cluster will be a one-stop knowledge hub for SMEs. Industry-facing, it will be staffed by supply chain experts with sector knowledge and sector connections - vital for maintaining BCRRE’s continuing success with establishing ‘spin out’ companies.
For the ‘client side’ – framework contractors and manufacturers – the Cluster will bring new and vibrant SMEs to their attention, invigorating the supply chain, and delivering innovation into the sector.
The University of Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education is ideally placed to deliver this service. An active member of the European Rail Clusters Initiative, it is also the lead university in the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).
The BCRRE Rail Innovation Cluster is a crucial initiative that brings together our world-leading railway R&D capability at the University with our breadth of industry knowledge, experience and partnerships.Alexander Burrows, BCRRE Director of Enterprise and Innovation
The Cluster will act as a bridge between UKRRIN members from industry and academia, SMEs and international partners, including through the ERCI. One of the University’s spinout companies, Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions won the ECRI Innovation Award for Best SME this week at InnoTrans.
Alexander Burrows, BCRRE Director of Enterprise and Innovation, said: “The BCRRE Rail Innovation Cluster is a crucial initiative that brings together our world-leading railway R&D capability at the University with our breadth of industry knowledge, experience and partnerships.
“Railways globally have a vital role to play in addressing climate change and there is an urgent need to decarbonise transport networks as quickly as possible.
“Our team is already working effectively with a range of partners towards these aims and the Rail Innovation Cluster will play a key role in enabling more rapid and effective development and deployment of technologies. We look forward to making that happen.”