Organisations can apply for a share of £7.6 million to deliver ‘First of a Kind’ rail demonstrations . This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) funded by the Department for Transport. It is part of a larger initiative to accelerate innovation in the UK rail sector and enable technologies to be readily integrated into the railway system.

First of a Kind 2022 has three themes:

1. Low emissions and a greener railway

Projects must address reduced carbon emissions and the impact of the railway on the environment. Up to £60,000 is available per phase 1 project. In phase 2, three successful phase 1 applicants will receive up to £740,000 to develop a prototype and undertake field testing.

2. Rail freight

Projects must focus on one of the specific themes listed on the competition page. A total of £2.4m is available for Theme 2 projects. Contracts will be up to £400,000 for projects lasting no longer than 12 months.

3. Cost efficiency and performance priorities for a reliable railway

Projects must focus on one of the priorities listed on the competition page. A total of £2.5m is available for Theme 3 projects. Contracts will be between £150,000 and £250,000 for projects lasting no longer than six months.


Applicants are welcome from all sectors. The lead applicant must be an organisation of any size, and they can work alone or with other organisations as subcontractors. Projects must involve each of the following:

  • An owner of railway assets
  • An experienced railway organisation
  • A rail organisation that has the potential to become a customer

They must also include a potential integration partner and have a letter of support from a potential railway customer organisation.

More Information

First of a Kind 2022 is open for applications from 20th April until 8th June. For more information, register to attend the competition briefing event taking place in Birmingham on 5th May. The event will also be available to watch online.

RedKnight has a strong track record of securing innovation funding and can help you develop a competitive application! Please contact us in order to arrange a free consultation.