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5G enabled road and rail transport trials in the West Midlands, round 2


UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £2.5million to support development of 5G enabled transport innovations. This funding is from West Midlands 5G (WM5G).

West Midlands 5G (WM5G) will work in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) through Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).

Together they will invest up to £2.5million in innovation projects that develop a new service or product. These must improve road and rail operational efficiency, provide better-connected transport or improve traveller experience. Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will manage the competition process.

This competition will support projects up to 12 months in duration.

Your project must trial using 5G in the West Midlands.

Projects will be awarded grant and monitored by WM5G.

You must consult with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) if the transport monitoring and control system:

  • Needs to integrate with the physical road or rail networks
  • Requires data

You must also ask TfWM to provide a letter of support for your project. Consultation days will be published specifically to review projects and gain understanding prior to letters of support being issued. Please apply for these appointments through the WM5G website.

You must consult with a mobile network operator (Vodafone, O2, BT or 3) to confirm 5G functionality is available for your project in the West Midlands.

You must include a public or private communications network provider or a communications integrator as a partner or a sub-contractor in your consortium.

While there is no maximum on total eligible project costs, your project can claim up to £500,000 in grant funding.

Open Date:


Close Date:


The aim of this competition is to:

  • Develop new services and products that improve road and rail operational efficiency,
  • Provide better-connected transport or
  • Improve traveller experience.

Your project must:

  • Focus on one of the use cases listed in the specific themes
  • Include three months of user or product testing in your chosen location in the West Midlands using the live 5G environment

Your project proposal must demonstrate either how 5G:

  • Is essential to developing your new service or product, or
  • Offers a significant enhancement compared to current mobile communications

You must aim to demonstrate improvements, including benefits derived from 5G bandwidth, latency, security or reliability in one or more of the following:

  • Operation of roads to reduce congestion and improve safety
  • Improvements in air quality (for example, CO2, PM and NOx)
  • Train, tram, bus or freight services to improve business operational efficiency or offer an increase in revenue
  • Better joined up transport for people or things (bus, train, tram, car, HGV) to provide more cohesive travel and transport solutions and transport information across the modes of transport, improving customer experience

Your project must demonstrate business viability and focus on exploitation. It must concentrate on showing the benefits of the product or service in a measurable way.

You must align your project to the Midlands Future Mobility initiative, the West Midlands CAM Lab or the ConVEx UK connected mobility data exchange. Your application must describe how you will achieve this.

Innovate UK are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and specified themes.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on products or services in one or more of the following use case areas:

  1. Movement of things – freight and logistics.
  2. Movement of people – public transport, economic recovery and traveller confidence post COVID-19.
  3. Road operation and management.

1. Movement of things – freight and logistics.

Choose one or more of the following:

  • Transport, drop off or pick up of goods, pallets, packages or parcels to customers or between businesses which may include construction, manufacturing, residential or retail. This may include simplifying the interface, increasing resilience of operations, or creating transport and logistics related efficiencies that can be realised outside of the direct line-side or manufacturing process
  • Journey improvements through better and more informed planning, hazard avoidance and dynamic in journey updates to improve delivery, operational effectiveness and improve congestion
  • Securing a meaningful level of adoption of platform for delivery as a service using big data and cooperative models between freight and logistics operators and consumers of their services. Of particular interest are propositions which can benefit the SME freight and logistics operators

2. Movement of people – Public transport recovery and traveller confidence post COVID-19

Choose one or more of the following:

  • Products or services which encourage the use of non-single occupancy car trips in higher polluting vehicles. This could include public transport (including bus, train or tram), eScooters, cycling or walking but may also include Mobility as a Service and sharing economy solutions. The products developed will also provide an enhanced transport experience or improved revenue opportunity for service operators.
  • Products or services which provide operational improvements or cost savings for rail, tram or bus operators.
  • Enhanced passenger or employee confidence and protection through detection of social distancing, crowding, health scanning or other key data to support healthy travel. This data will be available before or during journeys. The services may include guidance to travellers for options of services available, tailored to individuals’ needs.

3. Road operation and management

Develop a traffic control intervention to minimise congestion using:

  • Advanced traffic light control
  • Roadside warnings


  • Live and adapted route planning with the live traffic data from sensors being rolled out across the West Midlands

Access to detailed local emissions measuring and weather information is available for integration with novel interventions.

Your project must:

  • Only claim up to £500,000 in grant funding
  • Be up to 12 months in length
  • Start by 15 March 2021
  • End by 21 March 2022

The grant you claim as a consortium must be no more than 50% of the total eligible project costs. There is no maximum on total eligible project costs. If you request funding of more than 50% of the total eligible project costs or the grant requested exceeds the maximum allowed your application will be ineligible.

Lead organisation

To lead a project, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Collaborate with at least one other UK-registered business
  • If they wish, collaborate with UK registered research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • Include a communications network provider (public or private) or communications integrator as a partner or sub-contractor
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If your project needs to integrate with the physical road or rail networks or needs data from the transport monitoring and control system, you must:

  • Consult Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) before submitting your application
  • Include TfWM as a consortium partner or upload a letter of support from TfWM

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation, or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • Be invited to take part by the lead applicant
  • Enter its costs in the Innovation Funding Service

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant’s normal selection process.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. If an overseas subcontractor is selected, a case must be made as to why no UK-based subcontractor can be used including a detailed rationale, evidence of UK companies that have been approached and reasons why they were unable to do so. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Multiple applications

When a business leads on an application it can collaborate in a further two applications.

An academic institution can collaborate on any number of applications.

West Midlands 5G (WM5G) have allocated up to £2.5million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

Innovate UK are expecting collaborative experimental development projects. ‘Effective collaboration’ means collaboration between at least two independent parties. The goal must be either to:

  • Exchange knowledge or technology, or
  • Achieve a common objective based on the division of labour where the parties jointly define the scope of the collaborative project, contribute to its implementation and share its risks, as well as its results

Contract research and provision of research services are not considered forms of collaboration.

For collaborations between businesses, no one business partner can be responsible for more than 70% of the total eligible project costs.

For collaborations between businesses and research organisations, the research organisation must bear at least 10% of the total eligible project costs and have the right to publish their own research.

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 20% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

As a consortium, total project grant funding must not exceed 50% of your total eligible project costs. This is regardless of the individual partners’ grants claims.

Of that 50%, individual partners can claim grant funding for your eligible costs of up to:

  • 60% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • 50% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • 40% if you are a large organisation

Find out if your business is a small or medium sized enterprise in the EU definitions.

To see which costs are eligible read the project costs guidance.

Grant funding will be provided by WM5G to the lead partner, for distribution to their consortium members. Prompt payment terms will be agreed between consortium partners.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘Aid for research and development projects’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Innovate UK are not funding:

  • Media or broadcast projects
  • Vehicle-to-vehicle safety critical use case trials

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.