The second cohort of Wales’ leading rail-dedicated innovation programme reached its climax this week, as Spatial Cortex were declared the winners following a successful virtual demo day.
Lab by Transport for Wales, a concept introduced to Wales by KeolisAmey, looked to inspire innovation within businesses both in Wales and across the industry, with the demo day providing an exciting insight into some of the cutting-edge solutions passengers can soon look forward to.
Each of the 11 start-ups within the cohort – some of the most creative and ambitious tech talent from across Wales and the UK – pitched their ideas to leading Transport for Wales decision-makers in a bid to secure extra funding to develop their product further and help shape the railway experience for customers in Wales.
The cohort have been working closely with TfW over the course of the last 12 weeks, receiving dedicated mentoring from business experts to advance their products, ideas and innovations during the accelerator programme.
The pioneering scheme looks to stimulate growth in Wales by offering an exciting opportunity for business innovators to produce ideas that enhance the railway customer experience.
The ideas included using camera sensors to provide real time passenger counting data, a cloud-based ‘travel assistant’ for organisations that need to manage people-flow and travel demand, and a mobile app which would provide location-based information about the view from a train window.
The demo day featured video presentations from each of the start-ups, as well as an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and network with them during virtual Microsoft Teams breakout rooms.
After a day of pitches, Spatial Cortex was chosen as the winner and will be awarded £25,000 to develop their product further.
The proposed product, named MOVA, is a revolutionary wearable technology for railway staff to help reduce manual handling injuries when undertaking tasks such as lifting, carrying and manipulating materials whether trackside, in depots or carrying out maintenance. The technology will enable quantitative assessments and provide deeper insights to prevent manual handling injuries whilst overcoming the drawbacks of current risk-assessment practices.
Alistair Gordon, CEO of Keolis UK, said: “Transport for Wales’ Lab programme helps to showcase the best of Welsh start-up talent while also finding new solutions to improve key aspects of both the physical and digital passenger experience. It’s all part of our commitment to working with TfW to ensure Wales’ new rail network is truly first-class and underpinned by the latest innovations in technology.
“But the benefits of this programme could also be felt by passengers further afield than Wales. As global leaders in shared mobility, operating public transport networks on behalf of 300 transport authorities and three billion passengers worldwide, developing and adopting innovative ways of improving the passenger experience continues to be key to our success.”
Speaking after being declared winners, Kailash Manoharaselvan, Co-founder and Director of Spatial Cortex said:
“Given that we are an early stage start-up currently, winning the prize is an absolute game-changer and will make a real difference to us.
“It will accelerate and boost our start-up journey by allowing us more resource and time to deliver on the next steps along with Transport for Wales”.
Barry Lloyd, Head of Customer Experience and Innovation at KeolisAmey Wales spoke of his excitement at the prospect of working with Spatial Cortex, saying:
“Demo day was a fantastic showcase of the talented companies we have been working with over the past 12 weeks. Judging all 11 was a tough task but we felt that Spatial Cortex have the potential to be a real innovation in rail and have a huge impact, not just for us, but for the whole industry.
“Emu Analytics and Route Konnect also fully deserve to be highly commended for all their hard work in the development of some brilliant solutions for us.
“We are also exploring the option of working with some of the cohort that were not commended, which is testament to just how good this cohort has been.”
Recruitment will soon be starting for the next cohort, which will launch early next year. Full details can be found here.