DLR Station at Canary Wharf. Source: Flickr / JHImages.co.uk
Billy Wood

Member Article

Twenty-something tech experts aiming to revolutionise UK rail industry with new accelerator

Pioneering RailTech accelerator, HackTrain, that is aiming to revolutionise the UK’s railway industry, has announced the teams for its inaugural accelerator programme.

The HackTrain Accelerator, which is led by hackathon stalwarts River Tamoor Baig (27) and Alejandro Saucedo (23), is based in London’s Tech City and will see ten teams comprising tech startups from around the world attempting to solve some of the biggest challenges in the industry.

Participating startups

The successful startups who will be participating in the inaugural accelerator include:

  • Sirenum: A London-based developer of an automated staff management platform.
  • iGeolise: Developer of the TravelTime API which makes location data searchable by travel time.
  • Powermat: US wireless charging innovator whose app allows contextual information, alerts, offers and promotions to be pushed to users.
  • ParkJockey: Miami-based developer of virtual parking products.
  • Nimber: UK community delivery service that pairs deliveries with people already heading to the same destination.
  • Pointr: Global developer of indoor location and data analytics.
  • Vivacity Labs: Provider of real-time mobility tracking services that utilise smart cameras.
  • Ticket: Startup that offers rail customers a range of innovative features by scanning their rail ticket with a smartphone camera.
  • Dojo: Developers of a lifestyle app that informs users about things that they can do in their city.
  • Dispatch Messenger Ltd: London-based ‘shop by chat’ app, where users can request a delivery of an item from any shop in the capital within the hour.

Working together, the early stage tech companies will look at ways to improve customer experience and operational efficiency of the UK’s rail industry by trialing their products in the hands of customers and railway staff.

Ahead of the accelerator kicking off, River commented: “Much like everyone who travels by train regularly, we want customer service and operational efficiency to improve. It is something that we are incredibly passionate about and why we are so driven and motivated to play our part in making the UK the world’s hub for RailTech.

“There are so many start-ups with amazing ways to make our railways more innovative, whether it be through indoor navigation, speeding up the reclaim process for delay repay or bridging communication gaps between train companies and passengers.

“We want to make sure their efforts and enthusiasm translate into real results by providing funding, industry contacts and a shorter and more efficient procurement cycle so that passengers can benefit from these new solutions faster”.

The three-month accelerator, which runs until 3 June, follows the 48 hour HackTrain Hackathon at the end of last year which brought together 120 software developers, designers and entrepreneurs.

River added: “We are continuing on the momentum we’ve created with last year’s HackTrain hackathon with the launch of the HackTrain Accelerator programme that nurtures early stage RailTech technology companies help them to develop, trial and introduce their products and services.”

Industry backing

River and Alejandro have secured backing from some of the UK’s biggest transport companies, including First Group, Stagecoach, Arriva, National Express and Go Ahead, as well as BAE Systems, EY, Novacroft and Osborne Clarke.

As well as financially backing the programme, each company provides mentors to the teams on a weekly basis to help them deliver trials and real innovation to the railways.

Alison Smith, Head of Customer Experience at GWR whose parent company are First Group, commented: “Technology has fundamentally changed the way that we travel. Not only distances covered, but in the way we access information about services and in our ability to purchase ‘smart’ tickets while already on the move.

“As one of the UK’s leading transport providers, Great Western Railway is committed to providing innovative solutions to keep people moving, such as our highly regarded social media feeds, our mobile ticketing app and our live passenger information web page.

“That is why support this accelerator programme, bringing together some of the brightest minds in technology and design to further improve passenger experience.”

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