UK government launches location data competition for £2 million in new funding

The UK’s Geospatial Commission has partnered with Innovate UK to launch a new £2 million competition which challenges companies to apply for funding for new projects that harness location data to spark innovation and support the future of mobility in the UK.

The competition has been taking entries since 29 September 2020 and the deadline is midday on 4 November 2020, a virtual briefing will take place on 8 October. It is open to UK-based organisations from a business of any size, academic organisations or higher education institutes, charities, public sector organisations or local authorities, public sector research establishments, research council institutes or research and technology organisations.

The competition aims to unlock value in transport by stimulating market-led geospatial innovation in the sector, against four key challenge areas: enabling Mobility as a Service (MaaS); promoting active travel; optimising supply chains; increasing capacity.

Phase 1 expects to fund 30 projects with up to £75,000, up to a total of £2m (US$2.5m). It is expected that a second phase will follow involving R&D contracts being awarded to businesses chosen from the successful Phase 1 applicants. Funding of between £500,000 and £1 million is expected to be allocated for each Phase 2 contract, in order to develop a prototype and undertake field testing for 12 months.

Lord True CBE

“Location data and technology will help improve transport services, enabling the efficient delivery of new networks and transport corridors,” says Lord True CBE, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office. “Location data helps connect people with the jobs they need, the goods and services they want, and the places they want to go. This competition will help position the UK as a global science superpower, and start to unlock £2 billion of economic value per year in our transport sector.”

Rachel Maclean MP

“Data is key for innovation in transport to flourish,” says Rachel Maclean MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport. “Whether helping manage our transport networks, or rolling out connected autonomous vehicles, data is helping provide the new digital tools to change how we travel. I’m excited to see the winners of this competition and how they will make our journeys of the future easier, cleaner and more efficient.”

Dr Ian Campbell, executive chair, Innovate UK adds, “As the UK’s Innovation Agency, Innovate UK is tasked with delivering measurable economic and societal impact across the UK. I am delighted that we are delivering this potentially game-changing competition, cementing the UK’s reputation as a world leader in shaping the future of mobility. There is clear demand for innovation and we are utilising the proven Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) process to bring together transport challenges and innovators in order to deliver novel solutions.”

Dr Ian Campbell, executive chair, Innovate UK

Projects must demonstrate reasonable use of geospatial data and technology. Examples of this could include: earth observation and satellite-derived data; artificial intelligence / machine learning (AI/ML) algorithms applied to spatial datasets; Internet of Things (IoT) sensors capturing spatial information surveying, 3D laser scanning or spatial imaging; advanced geographic information system (GIS) analysis or geo-visualization and environment modelling.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).