A new university project to help Staffordshire businesses develop smarter, greener and more efficient ways of transporting goods has got off to a flying start.
Staffordshire Connected and Intelligent Mobility Innovation Accelerator (SCIMIA) is a project available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through Staffordshire University’s Innovation Enterprise Zone.
The project is being funded by £986,000 from the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the European Regional Development Fund.
Now the first companies have been accepted onto the scheme which offers up to 12 months of tailored support and access to the university’s facilities.
Newcastle-under-Lyme-based Green4logistics was founded by Staffordshire University graduate Darren Thomas.
The specialist removals company plans to offer a new bulky items removal and recycling service to households and businesses.
Business operations director Craig Hughes said: “The disposal of bulky household items is a problem everywhere. This project will involve designing a web app for consumers that works with our commercial diary to identify time slots to suit the customer.
“Pricing will be fixed depending on the number of items and the app will work with our existing systems to detect when we have a vehicle in the area and how we can best utilise our workers during dead time.”
Conscious of its carbon footprint, the company will also be recycling the items wherever possible, which will involve establishing a new network of recycling centres and charities.
Meanwhile, Exeter-based IDU Group is on a mission to unlock the potential of drone delivery.
Founder Kevin Duckers, who previously served with the Staffordshire Regiment and has extensive experience of logistics working for military organisations, said: “By 2040, we envisage that a third of all deliveries will be by drone.
“Currently the biggest problem is the same as with all deliveries – last mile inefficiencies and getting into the hands of the consumer, which does impact on speed and cost.
“The project will look at the bridging mechanism by which we connect the goods with the consumer in a safe and secure way. Smartbox is a key component in our end-to-end delivery networks which uses drone capabilities, an autonomous home mailbox, and integrated tracking.
“It’s early days but by tapping into the university’s digital expertise, we’re hoping Staffordshire and the West Midlands will be leading the UK in making drone delivery accessible to all.”
Marek Hornak, head of employer partnerships and enterprise, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming on board our first partnerships.
“Intelligent mobility is an exciting market where our research, expertise and student base can add significant value to Staffordshire SMEs when developing new innovative products or services through knowledge exchange.
“We will use our expertise in artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data, cloud computing, manufacturing, engineering, electronics and creative design to boost innovation in this area.”