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SBRI Global Rail Export Innovation for Australia, Canada and India


Organisations can apply for a share of £450,000, inclusive of VAT, to support innovation on overseas rail opportunities in Australia, Canada and India.

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by Innovate UK and jointly delivered by Innovate UK and the Department for International Trade.

The aim of the competition is to support organisations to undertake feasibility studies to demonstrate innovative railway technology solutions for overseas markets.

This is a single phase competition.

Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be the subject of a separate, procurement exercise and does not guarantee future work. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.

Projects must have maximum total eligible costs of £50,000, inclusive of VAT.

Open Date:


Close Date:


You must undertake a feasibility study, that demonstrates how your innovation can support an identified overseas rail sector challenge.

These studies should help to build new international business networks. The competition is delivered by Innovate UK with support from the Department for International Trade.

Innovate UK are looking to increase the international engagement of innovative organisations. The competition will focus on supporting companies that have strong innovative ideas to adapt their product or service to access new markets.

Your proposed studies must show the potential of an idea in response to the developmental opportunities in Australia, Canada or India. You must also show how you will build international partnerships in those countries.

The purpose of these feasibility studies is to enable you to demonstrate the potential for your innovation to support rail sector challenges in Australia, Canada or India. Collaboration will help accelerate the commercialisation of innovative ideas in fast-growing global markets.

You must provide a letter of support with your application, from a partner in Australia, Canada or India.

You can work with an existing partner or contact your local trade office who can support you in identifying potential contacts. To find your Local Trade Office please visit: https://www.great.gov.uk/contact/office-finder/

This is a pilot competition, designed to support you in developing your technology to meet the requirements of these overseas markets.

You will be required to produce a report on the outcomes of your feasibility study on completion. You must include your deliverables in an informative illustrated report, outlining your progress and written in the style of marketing material. This can help with promoting your capabilities with additional overseas organisations. This report is in addition to the formal SBRI end of project report.

Due to current challenges for international travel, it is not anticipated that significant travel to overseas markets will be required for your project. Travel and material costs are expected to be a small proportion of the total R&D services cost. Teams should plan to deliver their project remotely as far as practical.

Specific themes

This competition focuses on delivering feasibility studies targeting the innovation opportunities in the Australian, Canadian, and Indian markets. You must explore how you can adapt your innovation to address one of the following innovation opportunities.

Innovation opportunities in Australia:

Operational optimisation

  • Interoperability and standards harmonisation between different operating and signalling systems

Monitoring and predictive maintenance of assets

  • Digital and physical tools to enable equipment maintenance
  • Innovations to reduce manual operations

Energy efficiency

  • Operational improvement

Innovation opportunities in Canada:

Alternative propulsion technologies

  • Hydrogen fuel cell technology
  • Wireless power transfer systems
  • Battery train technologies

Energy efficiency

  • Electric power systems
  • Energy storage systems
  • Operational improvement

Operational optimisation

  • Railway scheduling
  • Railway maintenance
  • Real-time operations
  • Integrated mobility

Innovation opportunities in India:

Security and crowding of stations in urban rail transit

  • Station security systems for scanning of passengers and baggage
  • Innovations to reduce queues and crowding at stations
  • Technology based crowd control and baggage management systems
  • Technology to increase engagement with retail outlets at stations

Monitoring and predictive maintenance of assets

  • Automated technologies to reduce the requirements for manual inspections
  • Technology to improve maintenance, reduce breakdowns and reduce disruption caused by maintenance issues
  • Cost-effective technology to prevent failure of critical assets and to improve safety
  • Innovative and cost-effective solutions to manage and maintain assets across the rail network, including track monitoring and maintenance, signalling, rolling stock and traction

Improving freight operations

  • Innovation in the planning and management of freight operations to improve utilisation of existing resources
  • Innovative systems and processes to help with improved planning, and real time information on carrying capacity
  • Supporting of end-to-end transportation to deliver efficient booking, tracking and delivery for freight
  • Technology to increase the railway’s share of freight (especially from road) and to deliver a lowering of carbon emissions
  • Technology to deliver increased revenue from rail freight

Increasing train speed

  • Technology to increase passenger and freight train speed whilst maintaining safety
  • Innovation to reduce the capital expenditure required for infrastructure upgrades related to speed increases.
  • Technology to deliver increased speeds on existing infrastructure without major investments
  • Innovation related to speed focusing on traction, signalling, rolling stock, bridges and civil structures
  • Cost-effective infrastructure enhancements

You must work with a partner in Australia, Canada or India to develop and demonstrate your products or services for the market. You can work with an existing partner or contact your local trade office who can support you in identifying potential contacts. To find your Local Trade Office please visit: https://www.great.gov.uk/contact/office-finder/

You must provide a letter of support from a partner in Australia, Canada or India along with your application.

Research categories

Objective: technical feasibility studies

This means planned research or critical investigation to gain new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services.

The supplier will work closely with their partner to address one of the specified opportunities. The objective of the partnership is to support the supplier in developing an understanding of the requirements of the Australian, Canadian or Indian markets. Organisations will determine the feasibility of delivering their capability to overseas markets in these nations.

Projects must:

  • Start on 1st January 2022
  • End by 31 March 2022
  • Last up to three months
  • Have maximum total eligible costs of £50,000 inclusive of VAT

To lead a project, you can be an organisation of any size

Contracts will be awarded only to a single legal entity. However, if you can justify subcontracting components of the work, you can employ specialist consultants or advisers. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor. It is expected that all participants will work with an in-country unfunded partner, in Australia, Canada or India, to develop and demonstrate your products or services for the market.

A total of up to £450,000, inclusive of VAT, is allocated to this competition.

Feasibility study R&D contracts will be up to £50,000, inclusive of VAT, for each project for up to three months. Innovate UK expect to fund up to nine projects.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to apply a ‘portfolio’ approach across the competition themes, and technologies.

The contract is completed at the end of the feasibility study, and where possible, the successful business is expected to pursue commercialisation of their solution.

Research and development

Your application must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively to R&D services, including solution exploration and design.

R&D does not include:

  • Commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • Supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • Integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

Innovate UK will not fund projects that:

  • Do not deliver against the challenges identified for each market
  • Are not accompanied by a letter of support from a partner in Australia, Canada, or India
  • Are not within a year of being ready for market
  • Do not contain a significant level of innovation relevant to the rail industry
  • Have total eligible costs or project terms outside of the eligibility guidance

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.