Train operators hunt for tech start-ups to shape future of the rail industry

Four train operators have joined forces for a Dragons’ Den-style scheme to support innovation in the rail industry.

Northern, TransPennine Express, LNER and Southeastern are looking for cutting-edge technology start-ups to apply to Future Labs – a scheme designed to accelerate ideas which address common and emerging issues for the sector.

Successful applicants will gain access to industry data and resources as well as mentors and subject matter experts working for the train operators to bring their products and services to life.

They will be able to apply, test and demonstrate their ideas in real-world environments over a 12-week period.

A spokesman on behalf of the four train operators, said: “Future Labs is all about transforming the rail industry through open, pioneering and proven innovation.

“By giving technology start-ups access to live environments and expert mentorship they can test their proposed solutions in a real-world environment.

“Ultimately, this is all about advancing the passenger and employee experience as well as supporting performance and operational excellence.”

The AI platform Amygda is a start-up which achieved breakthrough success across the rail industry in 2022.

Commenting on the value of Future Labs to the company’s success, Faizan Patankar, chief executive and founder, said: “The rail industry provided us with invaluable access to live environments that allowed us to test and develop our product.

“The unique opportunity to generate our own insights was instrumental in building an understanding of the nuances of real-world data capture.

“Given the excellent experience it was to work with rail experts, the expanded scale of the programme with four operators is a really exciting opportunity for innovators looking to disrupt an industry.”