Transport for Wales (TfW) have unveiled the latest from a pioneering scheme designed to support start-up businesses and stimulate growth in Wales, showcasing the best of innovation and tech talent in August.
Lab by Transport for Wales, a scheme co-developed with industry experts by TfW, will see business innovators from across the Wales and Borders region develop their ideas to improve customer experience on the railway.
An initial seven start-up companies were given dedicated mentoring by business experts at a state-of-the-art facility in Newport to develop their products, ideas and innovations.
On September 3, 2021 a virtual demo day will feature some of the best and brightest tech innovations from Wales and the rest of the UK, providing a first look at some of the upcoming innovations that will be coming to the TfW network and services.
The 10-week accelerator programme has been delivered virtually due to Covid-19, allowing start-up businesses to work safely and participate from home - with the September demo day broadcast on YouTube.
This is the third cohort of companies that Lab by Transport for Wales has worked with. During the previous two cohorts, TfW worked with 19 start-up companies, of which 13 were accelerated to work with the organisation.
There were a number of key challenges which TfW tasked the current cohort with responding to, including:
- “How can we ensure we keep our colleagues and customers safe?”
- “How do we ensure we are getting the best out of our infrastructure?”
- “How can we make rail more sustainable?”
- “How can we encourage people to choose public transport?”
Innovative solutions to address these challenges include a new multimodal journey planner and passenger assistant app, which aims to minimise stress for passengers with autism and hidden disabilities when using public transport, an ultrafast train communications system to transform passenger Wi-Fi, a low-code machine learning platform, and virtual and augmented reality systems.
Although TfW is unable to purse every start-up business’ innovations, the advice, guidance and support provided while working with themselves and expert help has been credited as being unvaluable to the development of those companies’ products; on occasion still leading to opportunities to work together despite not being selected during the demo day.
Michael Davies, TfW’s Insight and Innovation Manager, said: “It’s great to have been able to continue working with several of the talented companies from the two cohorts we’ve held so far. Our industry needs innovation and to nurture new talent and ideas to deliver an even better experience for customers.
“For our third cohort, we have widened the scope of our search to meet some of the other challenge areas we feel exist, including fresh ways of tackling one of the biggest challenges public transport has faced in recent times: how we encourage people to choose public transport in the future. We’re excited to learn more about the innovative ideas that have been developed by the third cohort of start-ups on September 3, 2021.”