New £1.8 million competition launched to support innovative transport solutions

A new £1.8 million competition is opening to support the latest innovative transport solutions as the government seeks to grow the economy while looking at ways to decarbonise transport. 

The latest round of funding through the Transport Research and Innovation Grant (TRIG) competition has opened today (23 October 2023) and sees an increased available grant amount per winner of up to £45,000 per project. 

This round of funding will look at several different areas including ways to decarbonise airport operations and ways to better use artificial intelligence (AI) to make transport cheaper and quicker. 

The TRIG competition, delivered by the Connected Places Catapult (CPC), awards grants to businesses seeking to develop research and provide solutions to some of transport’s most-pressing issues including decarbonisation.  

Last year’s TRIG competition saw 67 projects awarded funding, including personalised navigation apps for disabled passengers and robots for freight at ports, creating jobs and growing the economy across the UK. 

Technology Minister, Jesse Norman, said: “TRIG funding has been a huge success over the past 10 years, helping to pioneer the new ideas to solve the transport problems of tomorrow.

“Today’s launch of the latest round of funding promises to build on the knowledge that innovation is key to helping improve transport across the UK, making lives easier and creating jobs.”

This year, the competition is seeking proposals which focus on: 

  • airport decarbonisation: innovative ideas to support the development of airport ground infrastructure for zero emission aircraft or to support airport operations transition to zero emission
  • 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
  • the Future of Freight: innovative ideas that address the opportunities and challenges faced by the Freight and Logistics sector and its supporting services, as outlined in the Future of Freight plan
  • maritime decarbonisation: innovative ideas for maritime solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the UK’s maritime sector, as set out in the Clean Maritime Plan, and support the transition to net zero by 2050
  • connectivity, AI and digital twins: innovative ideas that combine AI, digital twins and / or digital connectivity together to enable a resilient transport system delivering cheaper, cleaner, and quicker journeys for all
  • open call: innovative ideas that have the potential to address a UK transport challenge, across all modes, challenges and technology areas

Following its continued success, TRIG is now in its 10th year, with over £12 million has been awarded to 361 projects since 2014. Previous winners have developed a range pioneering of initiatives including:

  • an app that uses augmented reality to help visually impaired passengers get around rail stations
  • kite-powered tug boats to reduce emissions
  • drones to deliver packages in hard-to-reach areas 

Connected Places Catapult’s Chief Executive Officer, Nicola Yates OBE, said: “Transport research and innovation grants support high-potential innovators to develop their fresh ideas. Alongside financial assistance, they will receive a wide-range of business support from Connected Places Catapult to help them realise their commercial potential. 

“The increased funding available per project this year will mean innovators have access to more resources to further their ideas. If you have an innovative idea that could help tackle some of the UK’s transport challenges, I urge you to apply now.”

Previous winners include Edge Innovation, which created a new approach to community car sharing in rural areas.

Head of Projects at Edge Innovation, Susan Ross, said: “The programme has enabled a new product, brand and support packages to be created and to move the concept from TRL2 to TRL6. This would not have been possible without the TRIG programme.

“The application process and monitoring processes were user friendly and the teams at CPC and the Department for Transport were very supportive.  I would encourage anyone who has a transport innovation however big or small to apply. I am certainly glad that we did!”

IONA Drones, the first drone solution that meets the needs and regulations for rural logistics, enables efficient and sustainable autonomous deliveries anywhere and for everybody.

IONA Drones Chief Executive, Etienne Louvet, said: “TRIG and the CPC network were instrumental on IONA’s research and development efforts, especially when funding gets scarce which naturally penalises industrial technologies.  Since then, we have continued to work efficiently and are pursuing new later stage opportunities.”

The TRIG competition is now open for applications.


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