UK research boost for future travel

A radical new approach to funding highly innovative and wide ranging research into key long term transport issues was announced today by Minister for Transport Stephen Ladyman and Lord Sainsbury, DTI Minister for Science and Innovation, at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in London. The new approach to research is expected to result in far greater advances than simply awarding funding to a single organisation. It will allow a small number of consortia with wide ranging expertise to work in collaboration to tackle some of the major transport challenges we face over the next decade.

The Department for Transport, Department of Trade and Industry and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will jointly provide GBP9 million of funding, with a further GBP3 million expected from industry itself.

The Future Intelligent Transport Systems initiative is intended to stimulate new ideas, concepts, products or services that will:

* Further improve safety on our roads by reducing collisions, casualties and deaths;

* Result in better, more reliable, accessible and safer public transport services;

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* Lead to even greater efficiency in the road freight industry;

* Improve road network management; and,

* Provide better travel information, allowing travellers to make informed choices on how and when to travel.

Stephen Ladyman said:

‘The UK government has today launched a major research programme on future intelligent transport systems, which together with industry contributions will make over GBP12 million available for innovative demonstration projects. This is just the start of a fruitful collaboration between government and industry.

‘Our vision for this initiative is to support highly innovative and wide-ranging research and technology demonstrator projects, combining the best UK expertise in industry, Local Authorities, transport service providers and universities.’

Lord Sainsbury said:

‘I am delighted that DTI, DfT and EPSRC have come together to fund this important new initiative to help deliver better transport whilst reducing environmental impacts.

‘This initiative will bring together UK industry and universities to address key research issues for the longer-term development of the UK transport system. This Innovation Platform, developed by DTI’s Technology Strategy Board, builds on both the Office of Science and Innovation’s Foresight work and DfT’s own strategic thinking to address the transport challenges society faces.’

John O’Reilly, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council said:

‘The FITS Initiative is an exciting opportunity for EPSRC to work with DTI and DfT to support leading edge research that will address an important national need. It opens up the possibility of new science and engineering techniques and processes being developed and introduced experimentally to address transport problems.’
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