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Transport Systems Catapult and Alstom opens Rail Grand Challenge offering up to £50k for technology solutions for a changing rail industry

Transport System Catapult (TSC) has today, in partnership with Alstom, announced its Rail Grand Challenge, to fund small and medium enterprises to develop potentially innovative ideas or products with the aim of helping solve some impending challenges faced by the rail industry.

TSC, the innovation centre for Intelligent Mobility, said it will work with Alstom to deliver the competition, that is offering a prize of up to £50,000 to help the winning SME develop its ideas. 

The winner will also have the opportunity to work with Alstom to see its concept realised on the railway network.


Alston looking increase engagement with UK SMEs

Alstom claims over 100 years of contribution to Britain’s infrastructure, and currently employs more than 2,500 people and operates across over 20 sites in the UK and Ireland. It claims that around a third of all rail journeys in the UK are made on Alstom trains.

In the announcement, TSC highlight high speed rail and newly developed predictive maintenance technology as examples of examples of the company’s innovative approach.

Alstom’s objective is to increase engagement with UK SMEs in the face of more than £90 billion of investment planned in UK rail over the coming decade. This includes upgrades to the mainline rail network and London Underground deep tube lines, as well as the building of the HS2 line.

Alstom Innovation Manager Ouahcene Ourahmoune commented, “UK SMEs have a world-class record of innovation and generating solutions to some of the biggest challenges in science, technology and engineering. The Rail Grand Challenge Competition reflects our desire to work even closer with these businesses. Alstom is already pursuing exciting new ideas in this area, but together we believe we can achieve so much more. I am excited to see the innovative entries we receive for the competition and look forward to working with the winners.”

TSC Rail Business Director Richard Jones commented, ”The Rail Grand Challenge is an excellent opportunity for an up-and-coming business to work with one of the biggest names in the rail industry. With the support of Alstom we are hopeful that the winning entry will lead to big things for the company involved.”


Challenge areas

The TSC/Alstom Rail Grand Challenge competition offers one prize of up to £50,000 to help an SME develop an idea or product. The winner will also have an opportunity to work with Alstom to see its concept realised on the railway network.

The challenges Alstom wants to work on are in:

  • Safety: Improving the safety of track workers in proximity to an operational railway
  • Products:
    • Miniaturisation: reducing the size of products to make more space for passengers on trains, for example
    • Improving reliability
  • Technology:
    • Opportunities to deploy big data analytics/internet of things applications in the rail supply sector
    • Opportunities to transfer existing technological solutions in other sectors to the rail supply sector
  • Process:
    • Developing a systematic approach to delivering process improvement in the rail supply sector
    • Improving manufacturing, installation and maintenance processes


Entries close on the 30 of May

Alstom will work with Transport Systems Catapult to deliver the competition.

The competition opens today, and entries close on 30 May. 

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