7 Sep 2021
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the £350,000 First of a Kind grant allocated to Riding Sunbeams Apollo Ltd in January 2019 by Innovate UK for a transport project, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of return on investment in that project; and if he will publish that project's findings and recommendations.
Answered by Chris Heaton-Harris
Riding Sunbeams has been the lead partner in two projects awarded funding through the First of a Kind (FOAK) rail innovation competition funded by DfT and managed by Innovate UK (IUK). Its “First Light” project was awarded £350,000 in 2019; while “Daybreak” was awarded £400,000 in 2020, rather than 2019. These competitions offer valuable funding and relationships to help companies overcome the barriers to testing new technology on the live railway, which in turn is crucial to address key challenges for rail capacity, customer experience and, in the case of Riding Sunbeams’ projects, decarbonisation.
Riding Sunbeams’ projects, like all competition winners, were selected for funding by IUK based on standard evaluation processes. They were assessed for eligibility, and scored by independent expert assessors based on criteria including how well they met the challenges set out in the competition; their levels of innovation, and technical and commercial feasibility; and their budget and capabilities.
The contractually-required output of these projects was a successful demonstration of the funded technology for potential buyers in a representative railway environment, rather than findings or recommendations for publication.