Rail innovation unveiled

A £1.4m rail innovation centre at Bondholder the University of Derby has been unveiled to the industry to help transform rail travel in the UK.

 Exterior view of the Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering (IISU)

The University of Derby’s Rail Research and Innovation Centre (RRIC), at Lonsdale House in Derby, was developed thanks to a £902,600 grant from fellow Bondholder D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund.

The funding has allowed for the purchase of three technology ‘demonstrators’ to help improve innovation and productivity within the rail industry: Advanced Rail Composite Design and Manufacture; Rail Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence; and Future Rail Propulsion.

It is hoped that the RRIC will upskill upwards of 80 rail sector employees, while also supporting around 80 supply chain businesses, 15 new collaborative research projects, and shepherd 20 companies through innovation funding applications by 2022.

Professor Warren Manning, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the University of Derby’s College of Engineering and Technology, said: “We are grateful to D2N2’s Local Growth Fund for the support it has given the University of Derby to develop this superb facility."

“The Rail Research and Innovation Centre will provide expertise and technology with the capacity to transform the development of rail transport, allowing organisations to get the best value out of data and find better ways of decarbonising the railways."

“Secondly, it will provide opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises in the rail supply chain and associated industries to collaborate with us in innovative and exciting ways. This will help to put them at the cutting edge of the industry, unlocking opportunities for them not just regionally and nationally, but potentially across the world too.”

Tom Goshawk, D2N2 LEP Capital Projects Manager said of the opening: “The Rail Research and Innovation Centre project has provided an excellent opportunity for D2N2 LEP to invest in the important rail industry in Derby."

“Transport Equipment Manufacturing is a sector of great importance to the D2N2 area and this investment enables greater efficiencies and enhances the inward investment offer to rail supply chain businesses in the region."

New year, new era for LEP

At this year's Marketing Derby Annual Business Event Sajeeda Rose, newly appointed Chief Executive of Bondholder D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership outlined the role of the LEP and its priorities.

Sajeeda told delegates that the New Year sees the start of a new era for D2N2 LEP with a newly appointed Chief Executive in Sajeeda, a recently appointed Chair in Elizabeth Fagan, former MD of Boots as well as Deputy Chair, David Williams who is also Chair of Bondholder Geldards. It also has an aim to increase the representation of private businesses on its board to strengthen the business voice.

The D2N2 LEP is the 5th largest LEP by population and works in partnership with public and private sector to enable growth.

The LEP has just set a 10 year strategy for long-term growth with key priorities to improve productivity and innovation in the region as well as to support skills and education.

She said "We are proud to say that the Growth Hub element of the LEP has supported over 7,000 businesses in the 4 years it has been operating and have supported many great projects. This showcases true collaborative working."

Sajeeda welcomed the work of Marketing Derby and its contribution in attracting inward investment and jobs into the area.

D2N2 supports the presence at MIPIM and has recently become a Marketing Derby Bondholder.