A Government-backed fund is being targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to help them decarbonise freight.
The £7 million freight innovation fund (FIF) will be split between up to 36 SMEs that will work with industry to develop ways of making freight more efficient, resilient and greener.
By giving innovators the opportunity to test their ideas, ministers say that the fund will help SMEs roll out new technology and ways of working to unlock potentially huge efficiencies and emissions reductions across the sector.
This can include how to organise containers better so they can be more easily broken up for the final part of their journey or how to improve links between rail, maritime and road transport.
Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “Our freight industry is vital to underpinning the economy and keeps Britain moving, so it is crucial we invest in new innovations to make it greener and quicker.
“This fund will accelerate new ideas and technologies, helping to develop a future pipeline of innovations that can be rolled out to create jobs and allow everyone to get their goods faster and easier.”
The innovation fund was announced last year within the Government’s future of freight plan, the first-ever cross-modal and cross-government plan for the UK freight transport sector.
It targets the five priorities for the freight sector identified in the plan, including being cost-efficient, reliable, resilient, environmentally sustainable, and valued by society.
The fund will look to support ideas and tech addressing, in particular, three long-standing issues in the freight sector:
- A lack of large-scale cross-industry data collection and sharing between different modes of freight transport, such as road, rail and maritime, that could improve efficiencies and coordination.
- Difficulties in inter-modal transport, such as between rail and road, and ways to improve how large consignments are broken up into smaller ones, which could reduce emissions and traffic.
- Improvements in freight distribution in ports across different transport modes that could create knock-on benefits with
The Government’s future of freight plan sets a strategy for the government and industry to work closely together to deliver a world-class, seamless flow of freight across the UK’s roads, railways, seas, skies and canals.
The plan also explains how identifying a National Freight Network will help to better understand freight movements and their value to the economy.
Delivered by Connected Places Catapult, the fund will give SMEs access to technical and business support from the organisation.
Nicola Yates, CEO at Connected Places Catapult, said: “Each year in the UK, we transport 1.6 billion tonnes of freight using many different modes of transport, and it has never been quicker or easier.
“The freight sector makes a huge contribution to our economy and contributes significantly to domestic carbon emissions.
“Today, we are delighted to be working with Department for Transport to launch this freight innovation fund as part of their future of freight strategy.
“The fund will help us to work with innovators and industry partners to develop a pipeline of technology and data innovations that will tackle the freight sector’s emerging needs, ensuring that resilience, efficiency and carbon reduction are core to the sector’s future.”