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Connected and Autonomous Vehicles competition briefing - open to disruptive innovations

Encouraged by a potential boost from intelligent vehicles to the UK economy estimated to be worth £51 billion per year and 320,000 additional jobs by 2030, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is investing up to £20 million to support industry through Innovate UK’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicles competition.

Yesterday, at a briefing and networking event in London, around 200 potential applicants - roughly 60% of whom hadn’t previously applied to Innovate UK competitions - were briefed on how to apply, listened to or pitched ideas for projects, and had the opportunity to quietly chat or eagerly huddle with new connections for potential project collaborations.

In addition, approximately 70 viewed the livestreamed coverage online, and had their questions relayed directly to the BIS and Innovate UK executives involved in implementing Government plans to help UK industry to develop Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

With around ten awards expected to be on offer, the incentives to apply is obvious in monetary terms, but the end game was directed toward commercialisation.

One academic technologist described the event on presenting his elevator pitch, “felt like a kid in a candy store”.

Those brave enough to present their ideas were outnumbered many times over by representatives looking to connect one-to-one; one saying the “the networking activity going on in this room is ace”.

As KTN’s Rob Furlong emphasised in his his ‘hints and tips’ session on how to apply, the long term benefit of funding are the relationships that are formed in collaborations.

For this competition, societal shifts may result and could influence the direction of projects, so KTN’s expertise in cross-sector thinking was on hand to encourage the technologists to consider the broader societal and environmental factors that could come into play.

In terms of administration, registration is due by noon of 23 September 2015 and the decline for receipt of applications is noon on 30 September.

So, there is time to put proposals together, but thinking should be started right away in order to make a winning proposal.


Links and documents


On behalf of Innovate UK Ellie Ricketts-Jones, opened the event and welcomed delegates.


In addition to the forecast potential market (as estimated buy KPMG) Handan Wieshmann of BIS’s newly formed Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV), pointed to an opportunity to radically address the five deaths per days that UK society currently endures due to deaths on the roads.

“If four out those five deaths per day could be avoided that is a prize worth aiming for”, she said.

Handan highlighted that the £20 million investment is the first round of spending of the promised £100 million promised by The Chancellor in the last statement.

This is, however, subject to the government’s comprehensive spending review.





Data interoperability and security ‘by design’.

Michael Talbot, Head of Intelligent Mobility, Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (C-CAV), said the scope of the competition was intentionally broad to allow for ‘disruptive’ ideas, but is themed around connectivity, autonomy and customer interaction.

Innovate UK was guided in setting the scope of the competition by consultations with the Automotive Council. It is seeking interest from companies already operating in the field - and also from players looking to explore new opportunities and challenges.

An element of the competition is around data, for which Innovate UK specifies should contain a ‘high degree of interoperability’, and security ‘by design’.

About ten projects are expected to be supported; with collaborative R&D projects suggested as having budgets of around £1 million to £5 million,and lasting up to three years, while projects outside those ranges would be considered. In addition up to £2.5 million would be provided to support feasibility studies ranging from £50k to £250k, lasting up to 12 months.

For both, SMEs can claim up to 70% of costs, medium-sized businesses 60% and large businesses 50%.

There should be “a good mix of industry and academia” as projects participants.

The scope covers automotive transport, but it also as covers connected infrastructure and supporting systems and services - but “Where vague in scope, generally speaking, that’s done deliberately”.


Helping build innovation capacity

After a networking lunch, Rob Furlong, whipped some dynamics into proceedings in his chairing of short, sharp elevator pitches - presented by a variety of business and academic interests.

As, the audience braced themselves, Ben Peace introduced KTN as the network ”that connects people that accelerate innovation in the UK, especially across sectors”.

KTN doesn’t deal just with “technology push”, but also considers “societal challenges for building innovation capacity”.

As KTN’s sustainability lead, he emphasised sustainability as a driver of innovation, not a restraint - and introduced Innovate UK’s Horizons tool, as useful for helping innovators consider the broader picture around their potential ideas.

“Consideration of future markets is critical to the success of innovations”, he said.

“Innovators, within their metaphorical lab environment, are, perhaps, less aware of the environmental and social aspects affecting their potential innovation as the economic and technical aspects.”

“All are critical factors in helping achieve Innovate UK’s aim of a sustainable economy”.

Elevator pitches


Andy Graham, White Willow Consulting.

Consultant on ITS, and former chair of ITS UK. Can form an assessment on the benefits of projects. Knows what’s been tried before and what’s not worked before - can “help get your ducks in a row”.

Elevator Pitch - White Willow

Daniel Neagu, University of Bradford.

Bradford university has expertise in data mining and open data, safety and security.

Elevator Pitch - University of Bradford

Giles Perkins, Business Development Director for Transport Planning, Mouchel Ltd.

Mouchel is a provider of consultancy and managed services, recently awarded a contract to deliver smart motorways to Highways England. Also, current chair of ITS UK.

Elevator Pitch - Mouchel

John McNicol, Nova Modus.

Involved in the Venturer consortium funded to test driverless cars in the Bristol region. Seeking organisations interested in building proposals on top of that programme.

Elevator Pitch - Nova Modus

Tom Robinson, Idiada


Applus IDIADA - specialist in providing design, engineering, testing and homologation services to the automotive industry - recently acquired the assets of Pi Innovo Ltd. Involved in control systems. Interested in “testability of designs”, using a fairly standard framework.

Elevator Pitch - IDIADA

Toby Breckon, Durham University

Toby Breckon is Senior Lecturer, Computer Vision and Image Processing at Durham University.

Elevator Pitch - Durham University

Daniel Dearing, Digital Catapult

Interested in ‘reducing friction’ around closed proprietary data, personal data and Internet of Things.

Elevator Pitch - Digital Catapult

Dan Freedman, Direct Line Group

Direct Line Group is the UK’s leading motor insurance provider, and is has an involvement connected vehicles through its provision of driver telematics in 60,000 vehicles.

It is keen to understand the effect on its business of driverless vehicles.

Elevator Pitch - Direct Line Group

Suzanne Kinsella, OPM Group

OPM works in understanding the journey to public acceptance of technology - bring in a public voice to anticipate concerns, and “deal with people’s hopes and fears - such as in relation to HS2”.

Elevator Pitch - OPM

David Hudson, Group Chief Engineer, Tata Motors European Technical Centre

Involved in the UK Autodrive consortium. Interested in end user scenarios and connectivity, both on-board and off-board.

Sees a future in ultra-wide bandwidth wireless communications, and automotive firewalls.

Elevator Pitch - TATA

Jenny Stannard, TRL

TRL is currently working on related projects including the GATEWay driverless cars project, and has been involved in driverless cars research from as far back as 1971.

TRL’s interest in this competition is in providing validation and industrial research.

Elevator Pitch - TRL

Daniel Auger, Cranfield University

Worked on the JLR Evoke E project. Can offer integration facilities and resources of human factors group.

Elevator Pitch - Cranfield

Eric Chan, Transport Systems Catapult

Eric Chan stated that Transport Systems Catapult is expert at the modelling of transport systems, and in trials management - most notably for the Lutz pathfinder project.

For this competition is already discussing a number of potential projects.

Elevator Pitch - TS Catapult


Chris Erven, CQP - University of Bristol

Dr Chris Erven is a Lecturer in Quantum Engineering, involved in research into Integrated Quantum Cryptography and Metrology - interested in sending photons down wave guides rather than electrons down wires.

Commercial applications of quantum technologies offer increased security, future proofing, and eavesdropping protection.


Elevator Pitch - CQP

David Sharp, Head of Technology 10x, Ocado Group

Ocado is the largest online grocer in the world, with a fleet of 1400 Ocado and Morrisson’s vans, plus supporting freight vehicles. Its interest is two-fold: it has developed a radio technology for tracking movements of all goods in warehouses that could be exploited, plus it is a possible end-user of autonomous vehicles.

Elevator Pitch - Ocado

Mark Nicholson, Alchera Technologies

Alchera Technologies provide intelligent camera technologies, such as used for the MK Smart project.

Elevator Pitch - Alchera Technologies

Mohammed Usman Shah, Costain

Costain offers highway infrastructure expertise - and is “taking a serious look at V2V partners”.

It’s slogan is “We make the highways”.


Elevator Pitch - Costain

Graeme Smith, Oxbotica

Oxbotica is a spin-out of the University of Oxford’s Mobile Robotics Group. It specialises in mobile autonomy, navigation and perception - and is a participant in the UK Autodrive consortium.

All its solutions are GPS free and it is looking to partner with a large company.

Elevator Pitch - Oxbotica

Andy Tongue, ASV Global


Autonomous Surface Vehicles Ltd works with maritime autonomous systems - so is out of the competition scope, but attended for the networking.

ASV provides ‘rugged, reliable and effective unmanned systems using innovative technology’.

Elevator Pitch - ASV

Moeen Khawaja, Umbrellium

Umbrellium ‘designs and builds technological tools to support citizen empowerment and high-impact engagement in cities’. It is looking to provide a ‘search engine for trusted Internet of Things data’.

“There is”, he said “a massive opportunity to develop a data model and to leverage data for new business models”.

Elevator Pitch - Thingful


Joan Serras, CASA - UCL

At The Bartlett at UCL, The Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) has developed geospatial methods in computer-based visualisation and modelling.

Elevator Pitch - CASA

Farbod Khoshnoud, Brunel University

Brunel is developing the Brunel Solar Airship - a long-endurance aerial vehicle to provide aerial connectivity.


Pete Thomas, Loughborough University

Loughborough’s Safe and Smart mobility cluster has 140 active researchers. It can offer field trials and evaluation studies; development and testing of autonomous vehicles; and big data analysis.

It offers academic partnerships.


Additional pitches/information not presented:

Horizons Tool Workshop

While networking continued, KTN’s Ben Peace facilitated a demonstration Horizons workshop, using its 31 ‘nudge’ topics to prompt thoughts around the broader issues that might influence the formation of teams for the connected and autonomous vehicles competition.

The Horizons tool is designed to help businesses and innovators explore global social and environmental trends and drivers like urbanisation, food security, ageing demographics, public trust & confidence.

With a workshop audience made up of a diverse range of SMEs, a research engineering company, developers and even disability issues consultancy, what emerged is that almost all of the 31 ‘nudge’ topics could have some, sometimes indirect, relevance.

The brainstorming, in this case, produced suggestions ranging from making sure academic partners have expertise in project management, to the more cultural (such as including some humanities expertise, such as in ethics).

The full list, that could help similar considerations, is on the flipchart in Ben’s writing.

PM, it should be pointed out - at the bottom of the list here - stands for Project Managers.

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