HS2 has launched an innovation programme aimed at getting West Midlands-based companies with new ideas involved in the high-speed rail project.
It has teamed up with tech campus Innovation Birmingham to create an ‘Innovation Accelerator’ and is now calling for entrepreneurial ideas from local companies.
The aim is to drive project efficiencies and create wider, long-term economic benefits around the scheme.
The first phase of HS2 between Birmingham and London is due to be completed by 2031 with a second phase connecting the city with the North West, East Midlands and Yorkshire.
The new initiative will be focused around what HS2 is calling its three “innovation challenges” – productivity, environment and the circular economy which centres on reusing materials.
A new online portal has been opened for a month where ideas can be registered after which HS2 will take five of them onto the accelerator, to be based at Innovation Birmingham from the autumn.
The chosen quintet will receive commercial and technical support and rent-free working space to develop their proposal after which products will be showcased and pitched to industry investors and HS2’s supply chain.
David Hardman, managing director of Innovation Birmingham owner Bruntwood SciTech, said: “The digital revolution is a major priority for the West Midlands region.
“As the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and with deep roots in automotive and transport industries, the city of Birmingham is well placed to seek out and promote new and disruptive technologies for the transport sector.
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“Innovation Birmingham Campus is the perfect location for the HS2 Accelerator as the home of digital innovation within the region.
“Our proven track record with previous and relevant partners, London Midlands and National Express, demonstrates the power of partnership between innovation specialists and sector leaders, creating fantastic opportunities for early stage and more established SMEs.
“We look forward to welcoming some of the region’s most exciting and disruptive tech companies onto the programme in September.”
Head of innovation at HS2 Howard Mitchell added: “I encourage individuals and firms of all sizes to go online and share their ideas with HS2.
“The construction of HS2 will show the world the very best of British skills, innovation and ambition.
“We hope that the accelerator programme, which is an innovation itself, will both offer new ways of delivering HS2 but also generate new jobs, technology and opportunities.”