+44 (0)1509 261182

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


UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £2.5million to support development of 5G enabled transport innovations.

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). 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 18 months in duration.

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

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.

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.

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 proposal 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
  • How 5G 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:

  1. Operation of roads to reduce congestion and improve safety.
  2. Improvements in air quality, including CO2, PM and NOx.
  3. Train, tram or bus services to enhance business operational efficiency of the service offered.
  4. Better joined up public transport services (bus, train or tram) to provide more cohesive travel solutions and transport information across the modes of transport, improving the experience for travellers.

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 road, rail and traveller experience with a variety of use cases and technologies (see ‘Specific themes’).

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following use cases.


  • Traffic control intervention to minimise congestion (and emissions) using advanced traffic light control, roadside warnings, or live and adapted route planning
  • Roadside parking and flexible kerbside to make parking easier and enable deliveries, to minimise congestion (and emissions) and improve delivery scheduling
  • Vehicle to infrastructure (V2I), including service monitoring or road condition and hazard safety messaging including sharing of car data

Rail and tram:

  • Big data, including systems data monitoring and passenger counting
  • Station management and providing interactive customer information
  • New transport services such as very light rail (VLR)

Traveller experience:

  • An urban culture tour for tourists in towns and cities enabled by easy access to one or more modes of transport, such as connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV), taxi, tram or bus using an established or scalable service platform
  • A travel experience enhancement that supports improvements in personal productivity, social interaction or wellbeing (intellectual learning, physical or mental comfort)
  • Enhanced passenger or employee security and personal protection or hazard avoidance across any mode of transport

If your project is:

  • Up to 12 months long you can claim up to £500,000 grant funding
  • Between 13 and 18 months long you can claim up to £1million grant funding

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.

Projects must start by 1 August 2020 and end by 31 March 2022.

Innovate UK are expecting to fund a portfolio of projects (see the ‘Scope’ section).

Innovate UK are expecting to fund up to five projects, and at least one of them must focus on traveller experience.

Your project must be an effective collaboration, as defined in the ‘Funding’ section.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation:

  • Must be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Must collaborate with at least one other UK-registered business
  • Can collaborate with UK-registered research organisations, public sector organisations or charity
  • Must include a communications network provider (public or private) or communications integrator as a partner or sub-contractor
  • Must carry out its project work in the UK
  • Must 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 organisation 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, using only UK-based employees
  • 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.

Multiple applications

Any one UK-registered business can lead on one application and collaborate in a further two applications.

If a UK-registered business is not leading an application, it can collaborate in up to three applications.

Academic institutions can collaborate in up to three applications.

Communications operators and service providers can collaborate on any number of applications.

All projects must not rely on any other project submission.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £2.5million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Organisations that are primarily engaged in commercial or economic activity (known as selective advantage) as part of the project must ensure their request for funding does not exceed the limits defined below. This includes organisations that typically act non-economically but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

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
  • To 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 take 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. 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 up to:

  • Up to 60% of your eligible project costs if you are a micro or small organisation
  • Up to 50% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • Up to 40% if you are a large organisation If your project requests funding of more than 50% of the total eligible project costs your application will be ineligible.

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.

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

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 that 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.