£7.8 million to drive forward innovative ideas to transform railways


The UK’s rail network is set to become more efficient, greener and cleaner thanks to new funding for innovative ideas.

  • drones to inspect tracks, a sound-bending wall to cut noise pollution and plans for the first testing of a hydrogen-powered train are among 24 schemes awarded funding
  • projects will receive a share of up to £7.8 million in government funding for use on the rail network
  • innovative ideas are set to make the UK rail network more efficient, greener and cleaner

Drones capable of inspecting railway infrastructure, hydrogen train trials and a sound-bending wall to cut noise pollution are among 24 winning projects in the third round of the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, unveiled by the Department for Transport today (13 June 2019).

Run by Innovate UK and funded by the DfT to support research, development and innovation in the UK rail industry, the competition seeks innovative ideas that can be adapted to transform rail travel.

Strengthening resilience of railway infrastructure and operations, enhancing rail freight services, and reducing environmental and noise impacts were the themes for this round. Each of the winning schemes will receive between £250,000 and £350,000.

NHS needs ‘trusting’ partnerships with industry to accelerate innovation

Digital Health

The NHS needs “deep, trusting” partnerships with industry to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge health innovation, Baroness Nicola Blackwood has said.

Speaking the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) UK Market Conference earlier this month, Blackwood, who is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, said the UK needs to be “relentless” in its drive to ensure its place at the cutting edge of health innovation.

To achieve this, the government’s life science sector needs to continue supporting healthtech SMEs to scale up.

“We are looking at how healthtech companies can access the finances they need and creating a finance innovation ecosystem which promotes collaboration between the NHS and industry, to ensure new technologies meet NHS priorities and therefore have a ready-made market within the UK,” she said.

Public Technology

Department opts not to award framework deal worth up to £350m after near-draw between two bidders

The Foreign Office hof a framework voice and data connectivity deal with an estimated value of between £75m and £350m.

The five-year contract, carried out in association with the Department for International Development and the British Council, would have provided connectivity services to about 550 sites in 170 countries, connecting UK head offices to embassies, consulates and other overseas offices.

“Following a procurement process for global telecommunications services, the outcome between the first and second placed bidders was deemed to be so close that it was decided not to award a contract from the procurement,” the Foreign Office told PublicTechnology.

“We are now undertaking a review of our technology and commercial strategies before deciding how to come back out to market for these services.”

5G testbeds programme gets £40million funding boost

Digital Health

Initiatives testing how 5G can improve health and social care are to benefit from a further £40million investment in the testbeds programme.

The testbeds and trials programme, announced in early 2018, has driven improved mobile connectivity in multiple industries, including healthcare.

Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care is one of the projects that’s benefited from funding in the past, with a number of projects in place including a loneliness gaming and quiz app which connects people with learning disabilities.

Announcing the new wave of funding at the 5G World Conference as part of London Tech Week, digital secretary, Jeremy Wright said: “As part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we’re making sure that Britain has a telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future.

CityFibre and SSE Enterprise Telecoms announce new ethernet partnership at Connected Britain

DCL Search

CityFibre has announced a new partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms, whereby the company will become an Edge Plus strategic partner for Ethernet services.

“Partnering with SSE Enterprise Telecoms was not only beneficial to increase demand in the market, but culturally, our two organisations are well suited, both being guided by a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a need to disrupt the market. As a result, we’ll be able to take advantage of SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ extensive network reach and customer base to increase demand for full fibre, metro-based services,” CityFibre told Total Telecom at the Connected Britain event in London today. 

CityFibre is set to become an Edge Plus provider for Ethernet services from SSE Telecom. The deal will see CityFibre’s ethernet services added to SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ price comparison tool LIVEQUOTE, offering customers a far greater choice when selecting a last-mile service provider.

As part of the deal, SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ customers will gain access to 15 CityFibre networks, five of which are already live with a further ten to be added in the next few months.

UK unveils Technology Innovation Strategy

Global Government Forum

The UK government has published its Technology Innovation Strategy, which sets out how it will implement digital technology to improve service delivery.

The Cabinet Office’s minister for implementation, Oliver Dowden, announced the national strategy last week, in a speech at the launch of London Tech Week.

“The UK has led the world in harnessing technology to transform public services, but we cannot afford to sit back,” he said. “Adoption of new technologies by the private sector is changing how people live their lives and the public sector has to pick up the pace to stay relevant.”

The document is split into three sections focusing on:

  • recruitment and up-skilling the existing workforce;
  • providing an environment for experimentation; and
  • ensuring up-to-date technology and access to useful data.


Rapid TV News

In a UK first, and providing a boost to IPTV adoption, full-fibre infrastructure provider and ISP Truespeed is to start offering residential customers an Active Ethernet 10Gbps-capable full fibre service.

As a way of explaining the advantages of such networks, the company notes that unlike with 10Gbps PON-based networks where the fibre-optic beam is split between customers on a segment of the network causing contention, Truespeed’s Active Ethernet network delivers a dedicated 10Gbps link to every individual customer, thus maximising throughput and so potentially boosting considerably experiences for applications such as video streaming and TV.

Truespeed already offers residential customers in the rural South-West connection speeds of between 100Mbps and 1Gbps and has plans to expand beyond this region over time. It has just completed a small pilot deployment with the new 10Gbps-capable residential fibre Ethernet switch from Danish vendor DKT A/S and plans to offer it to residential customers alongside the current 1Gbps box over the course of 2019.

UK May Get ‘Thousands’ of 5G New Entrants Under Proposed Shake-Up by Ofcom

Light Reading

The future 5G opportunity for UK operators appeared to shrink today after regulatory authority Ofcom announced dramatic plans to sell licenses to “thousands” of 5G new entrants, imitating moves that have already been made in Germany and several other markets.

Under proposals unveiled at today’s 5G World event in London, Ofcom would reserve 390MHz of valuable “mid-band” spectrum between 3.8GHz and 4.2GHz for local coverage and campus use. If the scheme takes off, anyone could apply for a 5G license covering an area of just 50 square meters and develop their own local 5G network.

That could be done in partnership with a mobile network operator, but it could also be through an equipment vendor or startup, said Mansoor Hanif, Ofcom’s chief technology officer, describing the proposals as “revolutionary” during a presentation at today’s event.

Liverpool carers celebrate the role new technology’s playing in helping them overcome loneliness

Liver 5G testbed

Unpaid carers from Liverpool say loneliness prevention device, “Push to Talk” has helped them overcome social isolation.

Push to Talk is a new technology that connects unpaid carers to chat to each other, at the press of a button, at any time of the day.

Carers spoke about the innovative technology at an event to mark Carers’ Week (June 10-16 2019) at The Isla Gladstone Conservatory, Liverpool.

Mary Brandt from Kensington was introduced to the Push to Talk device by her Local Solutions team and says it’s brought her great comfort: “When Chris from Local Solutions came with the Push to Talk box my family said, ‘what do you need that for?’ I told them it was for carers in the same situation as me, people caring and living on their own who don’t always have somebody to talk to.

“I love using it. I contact other carers and we talk and have a laugh, it does everybody good. We don’t always talk to each other about our problems, we just chat.”

She added: “ My son who I cared for, for many years, doesn’t live with me any more, although I see him a lot of him. When I cared for him I hid it from people at work as I knew their thoughts about people with mental illnesses and didn’t want my son talked about that way. It made me feel quite lonely. When I met with people from Liverpool Carers Centre, Local Solutions, who introduced me to Push to Talk, I felt like they were giving a voice to the carers.”

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