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Reports: Summary of Innovate UKs Transport Vision 2050 report

Today (5 August 2021) Innovate UK published its vision for UK transport to 2050.

UK Transport Vision 2050: investing in the future of mobility outlines the changes, challenges and opportunities that will confront the UK’s transport sector over the next 30 years and the investment that the UK’s innovation agency will support in order to address these.

Why transport is important

Transport is at the heart of almost everything we do. It enables trade and mobility and contributes to health, sustainability and connectivity.

The government and Innovate UK have already committed to investing in digitalisation and connectivity; the drive towards zero emissions and sustainability; and meeting increasing demands – through the Department for Transport science and decarbonisation plans. They are also committing to raising R&D investment as outlined in its UK Research and Development Roadmap.

Innovate UK’s vision of transport in 2050 is particularly relevant to anyone investing in the future of transport for economic, societal or environmental benefit.

Innovate UKs vision for 2050

Based on extensive research and input from over 200 contributors from industry, government and academia, Innovate UKs vision of for a 2050 transport system* is one that:

“Enables the movement of people and goods from one location to another through seamless, safe, net zero, connected, cost effective, accessible and reliable means”

The key points are:

This is to be underpinned by the global leadership of UK companies in research and development, manufacturing and delivery of transport systems, infrastructure, and resilient and secure supply chains.

*Excluded from this vision is the construction, manufacture or recycling of vehicles, production of fuels/energy vectors or heavy infrastructure, and workforce skills and training.

New business models and markets

Innovate UK recognises that this vision becoming reality presents both commercial opportunities, and threats.

Alongside all of these opportunities will be increase costs, at least the short term, due to investment in new technology, equipment and skills.

Businesses will, then, inevitably have to find creative ways to minimise costs while maximising revenues, such as selling service packages rather than contracts, rethinking how assets are used during times of low demand, and developing ways for products and services to be customised en-masse.

Policy, legislation, tax and incentives will also significantly affect how much companies can and will take the opportunity to adapt.

It’s encouraging that the level of government investment in research and development is increasing and this document by Innovate UK clearly outlines where their investment decisions will be placed moving forwards.

Innovate UK Smart Grants

One option for funding the types of innovation that will be required to achieve this vision is Smart Grants, provided by Innovate UK themselves.

Smart Grants are open to application from a variety of projects and small businesses within the UK, are the eligibility criteria is typically broader than other competition-style funding available from Innovate UK.

To understand whether your R&D project would be a good fit for Smart Grant funding or to get advice or help with the application process, get in touch with our innovation funding team.

We’ve also compiled this list of frequently asked questions to help you demystify some of the Smart Grant funding process.