Government and industry unite to launch Rail Innovation Exhibition 

14 January 2020

Innovate UK, KTN, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Railway Industry Association (RIA) are partnering to hold a four-day Rail Innovation Exhibition, showcasing the best in rail innovation. 
The joint virtual exhibition will take place from 9-12 February 2021 is supported by Network Rail and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN). It will bring together a fantastic line-up to showcase some of the most exciting innovations and projects the rail sector has to offer.
Across the four days, there will be sessions highlighting the winners of the DfT-funded ‘First of a Kind’ Rail Demonstration and Accelerating Innovation in Rail competitions, as well as several major announcements on projects and new research centres.
The exhibition will also feature RIA’s next Unlocking Innovation series - titled ‘Building Back Better’ - which will focus on how the industry can improve passenger experience and accessibility to accelerate the post-Coronavirus recovery. As part of the proceedings, RIA will be holding ‘problem solving’ roundtables to match problem owners with companies and organisations who can offer innovative solutions. 
Attendees at the event will be able to visit digital stalls, hear presentations ranging from customer experience and accessibility to sustainable stations and rolling stock, and participate in conference themes. Companies will have the opportunity to have their own virtual exhibition stand, promoting their innovative product or service to an engaged audience.  
Commenting on the launch Milda Manomaityte, Senior Policy and Technical Manager at RIA, said: “RIA’s Unlocking Innovation series is fundamentally about catalysing innovative thinking across the industry, so making it part of the Rail Innovation Exhibition is an exciting opportunity.
“At a time when physical events are not possible, it is more important than ever to bring together leading organisations working on the latest products and services in rail and to enable discussions that help unlock innovation on the UK’s railways. 
“We look forward to working with our event partners and exhibitors to provide a wide range of fascinating events and collaboration opportunities. Be sure to join us for what promises to be a brilliant four days of events!”
Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Rail, KTN, said: "This promises to be an exceptional four-day showcase of innovation in the UK's rail sector.  Now, more than ever, engaging with businesses, particularly SMEs, making diverse connections and nurturing innovation in this sector is vital to rail and the UK as a whole. This virtual event is an opportunity to engage with innovators, funders and key industry operators and to hear from major players in rail."

Kelvin Davies, Innovation Lead Rail at Innovate UK, said: "This exhibition and conference, delivered through a collaboration between Innovate UK, the Railway Industry Association and KTN on behalf of DfT, provides evidence of the high level of innovation delivered in recent years as part of the First of a Kind and Accelerating Innovation in Rail programmes. With a large number of products brought to the market, we are excited to present these to a wide audience from across the rail industry and to highlight the high-quality technology that has been developed to address the priority challenge of the industry”.

David Rowe, Head of Strategy - R&D Portfolio at Network Rail, said: “In Network Rail we have resolved to deliver a better service for passengers and freight, and strengthened our commitments to long term sustainable development. Supplier innovation is critical to achieving these ambitions and I am delighted to see this Unlocking Innovation event directly addressing these outcomes.” 
Alex Burrows, Director, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education and UKRRIN Centre for Excellence for Digital Systems Lead, said: “Collaboration is vital to ensure we are able to deliver the vision set out in the new Rail Technical Strategy and we are delighted to be partnering with UKRRIN’s founding members RIA, and Innovate UK, KTN and the DfT on this event. UKRRIN in conjunction with the Technical Leadership Group recognises the pressing need for innovation in passenger experience if we are to build back better, and is working to expand network and UK capabilities in line with this.” 
To find out more and to register for the exhibition, please visit the website here.

Notes to Editors


  1. Journalists are also welcome to register for the exhibition by getting in contact with Alexis King at 
  2. About the Unlocking Innovation Programme: RIA’s highly regarded Unlocking Innovation events bring together the people with ideas and ambition to drive change within the rail industry. The events create a platform for large and small companies, academics and innovators with the aim of developing and implementing improved products and services to meet the needs of industry clients. Unlocking Innovation events also aim to create new supply chains, to build value and benefit the UK economy, rail suppliers and ultimately the customers, the rail users. Find out more here
  3. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has 300+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.
  4. About KTN: KTN, previously known as the Knowledge Transfer Network, was founded in 2014 to connect disparate sectors to solve problems and fast-track bringing R&D innovation to market. For every £1 invested in KTN by the UK government, it has contributed £13.50 to the UK economy. Its vast network extends to 195,000 innovators, entrepreneurs, research and industry players and it directly employs 200, with specialties in a broad range of industries.
  5. About Innovate UK: Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. 
    Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Their mission is to drive sustainable economic growth through business-led innovation, by investing in innovation and giving innovative businesses of all sizes in all sectors access to the knowledge, partners, investment and markets they need.
  6. About the Department for Transport: The Department for Transport (DfT) works with agencies and partners to support the transport network that helps the UK’s businesses and gets people and goods travelling around the country. They plan and invest in transport infrastructure to keep the UK on the move.
    DfT is a ministerial department, supported by 24 agencies and public bodies.
  7. About the Network Rail R&D Programme: Network Rail have made an investment £350m into the R&D portfolio in a bid to enhance invention and creativity in products, systems and equipment that will develop the industry and ultimately benefit rail users.
  8. About UKRRIN: Formed in 2017, the UK Rail Research & Innovation Network (UKRRIN) brings the leading Universities in Rail with the industry to collaborate on ideas and drive aspiration and innovation. RIA is a founding member. 

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