Launched with a Parliamentary reception in February 2018, the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) is a ground-breaking partnership between the rail industry and eight universities to deliver four world-class Centres of Excellence covering: rolling stock, infrastructure, digital systems and testing.
At the RRUKA 6th Annual Conference in November (2017), Clive Roberts – BCRRE Director, and Professor of Railway Systems at University of Birmingham – and Sharon Odetunde – Head of Academic Partnerships at RSSB – gave a joint presentation on the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN).
This explained the development of the network, and next steps following the recent HEFCE (now Research England) funding award. Mechanisms for engagement for the network were also outlined, as well as a proposal for the consolidation of RRUKA and UKRRIN in order to deliver five core functions to best meet industry needs.
What is UKRRIN?
UKRRIN gives the rail industry access to purpose-built world-leading facilities and skills in a range of areas to support research, development and innovation for new technologies and products.
The four Centres of Excellence are supported by industrial partners to deliver world-leading research from inception to market application for both the UK and global markets. These Centres will enable industry to deliver new products and technology to market faster using purpose-built development, simulation and testing facilities. They will also help the UK maintain its position as a technology leader in rail on the world stage.
The key objectives of UKRRIN are:
- Support and build UK rail sector capacity and capability to develop, deliver and deploy new technologies;
- Deliver a step change in investment in rail innovation through a world-leading network of UK-based research and testing centres;
- Radically increase UK rail productivity and performance by delivering transformational innovations and accelerating their uptake;
- Develop new strategic relationships with the small – medium sized enterprise supply chain, rail industry and wider transport sector.
With £92 million funding for rail research and innovation already pledged for the network, this consolidation represents the next evolution of collaborative innovation in rail, strengthening the relationship developed between industry and academia.
What about RRUKA and its members? How can academics engage wtih UKRRIN?
The key objectives of RRUKA will still very much met through UKRRIN and its activities.
The development of UKRRIN brings an opportunity to strengthen links with the supply chain and push ideas through to commercialisation. We need to identify the leaders in the different fields of relevance to the rail industry. An initial assessment process and selection of Centres of Excellence has helped to identify these for rolling stock, infrastructure and digital systems. However, continued identification of other key competencies will help to further clarify the rail research landscape for both industry and academia.
Academic institutions wishing to join the network are welcome to express their interest in joining as an/a:
- Affiliate member: offering cross-cutting skills to the network as a whole
- Partner to an existing centre: supporting delivery in core areas
- New centre of excellence
Prospective applicants should review the guidance available on the UKRRIN website for more information and the application details.
We will still keep the wider academic community informed of opportunities to engage with the rail industry and understand research and innovation priorities going forward.
Industry engagement with UKRRIN
Industry partners wishing to support and engage with the network should please contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Find out about UKRRIN: www.ukrrin.org.uk
- Explore the Centres of Excellence:
- Engage with UKRRIN
- Follow UKRRIN on Twitter
- Contact the UKRRIN team