RIA announces theme and key dates for Unlocking Innovation programme in 2021

11 January 2020

The Railway Industry Association’s (RIA) Unlocking Innovation programme is back in 2021, with another strong line-up of events planned throughout the year. 

The overarching theme for this year Unlocking Innovation’s programme will be Railway of the Future - to look at how innovation can help spur a recovery from Coronavirus in the short-term, and build a greener, passenger-focused and more reliable network in the long run. 

The full programme for the year includes:

  • Talks on Building Building Back Better at the Rail Innovation Exhibition with DfT, KTN and Innovate UK – 9-12 February 2021, Online
  • RIA’s Innovation Conference – 28-30 April 2021, Online
  • Whole System Innovation – 13-14 May 2021, Online
  • Data Driven Maintenance – 5-9 July 2021
  • UI Knowledge Hub at Railtex/Infrarail 2021 – 7-9 September 2021
  • Climate Change and Resilience – 11-15 October 2021
  • CP6 Half-way Portfolio Review – 13-16 December 2021

David Clarke, Technical Director at the Railway Industry Association, commented: “It is great to be back with RIA’s Unlocking Innovation programme in 2021. We have a really exciting line-up of events which will cover many of the key challenges facing our industry in the years ahead. Our overarching theme will look at developing the Railway of the Future, with each event looking at a key topic within this theme, including the evolving uses of data, the need to digitalise and decarbonise before 2050, and how we deliver whole-system innovation. 

“Our Unlocking Innovation programme is fundamentally about bringing together innovative clients and rail businesses and showcasing the work they are doing to address client challenges. We look forward to continue working with our strategic partners Network Rail and UKRRIN, as well as with stakeholders across the industry to help drive innovation in the sector even further in 2021.”

RIA’s Unlocking Innovation brings together leading innovators, clients and policymakers from across the sector and beyond, to showcase some of the leading technologies and projects in rail, and help companies overcome obstacles to innovation. Network Rail and the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) are strategic partners for the programme. 

Notes to Editors


  1. Journalists are welcome to attend all Unlocking Innovation events. To register your interest please contact Alexis King at Alexis.King@riagb.org.u
  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 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. https://www.networkrail.co.uk/industry-and-commercial/research-development-and-technology/research-and-development-programme/
  5. 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. https://www.ukrrin.org.uk 

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