Telent is delighted to announce that it has joined Rail Industry Association’s (RIA) acclaimed Unlocking Innovation programme as a Strategic Partner.

RIA’s Unlocking Innovation programme promotes and highlights the many innovations and developments happening across UK rail and helps businesses identify new opportunities to innovate.

Working closely with RIA, Network Rail and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN), Telent will have an active role in the development of the Unlocking Innovation programme and in delivering its strategic objectives.

RIA Innovation Director Milda Manomaityte said: “We are delighted to welcome Telent as the third Strategic Partner of the Unlocking Innovation programme, strengthening the collaboration and bringing new ideas. This year we are planning a series of Unlocking Innovation events across the UK’s nations and regions to connect with local stakeholders, suppliers and researchers. Unlocking Innovation “on tour” aims to work closely with Network Rail’s routes, regions, and capital delivery teams as well as regional transport bodies to bring together the innovation community and local railway stakeholders for a showcase of market-ready innovations, R&D work, funding and accelerator programmes, as well as testing capabilities.”

The Unlocking Innovation programme is aimed at promoting innovations and new developments within the sector. Through a series of events, articles, thought leadership reports and industry surveys, the programme seeks to understand the challenges innovators face, provide clarity for routes to market and connect individuals with ideas and the ability to make changes.

“UK rail is facing many challenges – ageing infrastructure, obsolete systems, climate change – which all lead to operational uncertainty and although well-funded, UK Rail is not funded sufficiently to address these issues without doing things differently,” said Kevin Bonanno, Director of Rail at Telent. “Innovative technology solutions are key to addressing these challenges. Telent has a proud history of innovation and of transforming legacy analogue infrastructures into future proofed digital environments. Being part of RIA’s acclaimed Unlocking Innovation programme will allow us to support SMEs and innovators in bringing and deploying their solutions to Britain’s railways.”

Unlocking Innovation events are the centrepiece of the programme, bringing railway clients and suppliers together to share the latest innovations in the market and engage with academic institutions. This allows for a better understanding of research and development pipelines and provides an opportunity to learn about funding and accelerator opportunities to bring innovations into the market.

Telent will be on-hand at each event and support the programme to help make positive connections with UK rail stakeholders, suppliers (current and potential) and developers of innovative technologies that seek to address the challenges faced by the rail industry. Telent will play an important role in bridging the gap between innovators and national railway priorities, by working with and supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to bring their products and solutions to the rail sector.

In 2023, Telent invested over £181 million in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the UK, accounting for almost 70% of suppliers. This commitment to supplier diversity drives innovation and contributes to the prosperity of local economies, generating £40 million of additional social value benefits, according to the National Social Value Taskforce. Telent’s Procurement team also promotes growth through collaboration by committing a minimum of 100 hours per year of its resources to supplier engagement and development activities.

In May 2023, over 150 suppliers participated in Telent’s virtual Meet the Buyer event, with many submitting details of their innovative goods and services to help reduce our customers’ carbon footprint. This included an innovative battery-pack solution that was recently trialled, enabling zero onsite carbon and noise emissions while powering construction tools, lighting and welfare equipment on a single charge.

Telent’s proud history of innovation has included several projects in partnership with Network Rail. Its ‘Train and Station Innovation for Performance’ programme, focused on the demonstration of AI capabilities for the delivery of better operational outcomes for stations, trains and passengers alike.  Other innovative partner projects Telent has worked on include  the delivery of Wi-Fi 6 networks to 19 Network Rail stations, the installation of Request to Stop kiosks on the Far North Line and the development and deployment of workflow automation and asset management systems (MICA and Arbitex) for 170 tube stations and some of the UK’s major rail stations.