Network Rail is on a quest for bright ideas to help make the railway more efficient with the launch of a new matchmaking website for suppliers to submit solutions to a range of business challenges.
The new website sets out a series of priorities and challenges Network Rail aims to overcome to deliver a better value railway and invites suppliers from the rail industry and beyond to submit their ideas on how they can help overcome them.
Network Rail is asking Britain’s boffins: How would you make us save more energy? How would you show us how to lay track more quickly? How would you monitor our infrastructure more smartly?
Ian Sexton, Network Rail’s director; contracts and procurement said: “Innovations such as high-output machinery and our modular switches and crossings programme have shown that we can make significant improvements to the way we manage our infrastructure, speeding up processes and reducing costs.
“Our new innovation website provides the industry with more clarity of our innovation priorities, helping suppliers to focus their efforts on developing solutions and more efficient ways of working that meet the demands of a modern, better value railway.”
The website is part of a new streamlined process to make it quicker and easier for proposals to be assessed and developed. The website provides clearer guidance on Network Rail’s priorities and requirements, helping suppliers to focus their ideas and reduce the costs and risks associated with supplier-led research and development.
The company is also keen on attracting new entrants from other industries, as well as small businesses, universities and research institutes.
Steve Yianni, Network Rail’s director of engineering added: “We have developed a new innovation process based on extensive benchmarking from rail and other industries, which we successfully trialled last year. Our aims are to focus our efforts on clear business needs, improved engagement with our supply base, and step up the pace in developing new, and better quality, technology to the railway.”
Proposals must meet a strict set of requirements before they can be considered. They must be fundamentally new and different, solve a particular problem and have a strong business case. Each proposal will be assessed by a specially assigned innovation supply chain manager to see whether the idea should be taken forward and developed further