£7m fund for SMEs to develop green solutions for freight


The government has launched a new £7 million fund to help small to medium-sized businesses to develop greener and more efficient solutions for freight.

The freight innovation fund (FIF) will go to up to 36 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They will then work with industry-leading companies to develop innovations to make freight more efficient, resilient and greener, such as ways to improve how freight moves between rail, road and maritime transport.

The fund will give SMEs the opportunity to test their ideas and roll out new technology and ways of working to reducuce emissions across the sector. This can include how to organise containers better so they can be more easily broken up for the final part of their journey or how to improve links between rail, maritime and road transport.

The innovation fund was announced last year within the government’s future of freight plan, a cross-modal and cross-government plan for the UK freight transport sector. It targets the five priorities for the freight sector identified in the plan, including being cost-efficient, reliable, resilient, environmentally sustainable, and valued by society.

The fund will look to support ideas and tech addressing, in particular, three long-standing issues in the freight sector. This includes a lack of large-scale cross-industry data collection and sharing between different modes of freight transport, such as road, rail and maritime, that could improve efficiencies and coordination.

Another issue is the difficulties in inter-modal transport, such as between rail and road, and ways to improve how large consignments are broken up into smaller ones, which could reduce emissions and traffic.

The solutions could also aim for improvements in freight distribution in ports across different transport modes that could create knock-on benefits with timings, efficiencies, and predictability of the rest of the journey

The government’s future of freight plan sets a strategy for the government and industry to work closely together to deliver a world-class, seamless flow of freight across the UK’s roads, railways, seas, skies and canals.

The plan also explains how identifying a National Freight Network will help to better understand freight movements and their value to the economy.

Delivered by Connected Places Catapult, the fund will give SMEs access to technical and business support from the organisation.