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New transport accelerator opens

Startups with innovative solutions to big transport challenges like congestion, overcrowding, emissions and road safety are being encouraged to apply for a new accelerator programme focusing on ‘intelligent mobility’ and enter a market set to be worth £900bn by 2025.

Catapult Driverless PodThe Milton Keynes-based Intelligent Mobility Accelerator is designed to attract disruptive startups with high-growth potential into the UK transport industry, helping them grow through access to networks, expertise and mentoring.

Intelligent mobility uses new and emerging technologies to create smarter, greener, safer and more efficient movement of people and goods around the world. It is set to overhaul transport systems, with the UK well-positioned through early innovation to take advantage.

The new programme is a partnership between the Transport Systems Catapult and Telefónica-owned accelerator operator Wayra UK. Innovate UK-backed TSC is the UK’s innovation centre for intelligent mobility and the organisation behind the UK’s first public trial of an autonomous vehicle.

The accelerator starts before the end of 2017 and will run twice yearly with six startups in each cohort. It focuses on areas including connected and autonomous vehicles, connected infrastructure, customer experience and transport data and analysis.

Its goal is to develop companies who will create solutions for the most pressing transport problems facing the world today, improving day-to-day life for travellers, while creating new UK-based industry leaders in a global market that is set to treble in size to £900bn a year by 2025.

Businesses accepted on to the programme will receive a six-month support package that also includes office space and access to Wayra UK’s and the TSC’s networks of investors, government agencies, customers, large corporates and universities. They will also get to work with the TSC’s data, visualisation, customer experience and connected and autonomous vehicle capability teams.

The TSC and Wayra hope to continue to support the best of the startups beyond their time at the accelerator.

The programme has sponsorship from global technology consultancy ThoughtWorks and national railway infrastructure operator Network Rail, both of which will also provide support to the accelerator startups.

The TSC is part of a network of not-for-profit technology and innovation centres established by government innovation agency Innovate UK. TSC chief executive Paul Campion said: “Transport is currently going through a revolutionary period driven by digital, connected and autonomous technology. Up until now British entrepreneurs wanting to exploit these opportunities have needed to go it alone. We must support new UK businesses now, so we can take a lead on the world stage and create high-quality jobs and growth for our economy.

“The IM Accelerator will support and de-risk startup and early growth companies as they create breakthroughs in transport technology. There are no other accelerators in the UK which cover the full range of potential intelligent mobility solutions, and we hope to give these businesses a doorway into this £900bn global market.”

Wayra UK director Gary Stewart said: “Transport is an area where data-driven tech solutions are already making a huge difference to the lives of billions – from the development of the Oyster card to the creation of journey helpers like Citymapper. Through this innovative programme, we hope to support the development of the next generation of transport systems breakthroughs and contribute further to making the UK the best place in the world to scale a transport startup.”

Since starting work in 2012, Wayra UK has supported more than 160 British and Irish startups, helping them raise around $150m in third-party funding. Earlier this year it started work on a new anti-poverty accelerator programme, as well as work with the government’s communication headquarters (GCHQ) through its cyber accelerator. It also supports the Birmingham-based Serendip smart city incubator.

Interested in applying for a place at the IM Accelerator, or supporting the programme? Contact IMAccelerator@ts.catapult.org.uk.

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