Last month we had the Final Live Event of the 2013 Rail Customer Experience Competition, held at 15hatfields - the leading sustainable venue in London, UK. This £1m prize-bearing competition sought innovations to transform the customer experience on GB railways. There were three challenges for this, each tailored towards a different customer group – regular (commuters), discretionary (non-commuters) and freight. In total, 16 finalists were chosen to pitch their innovations to a live audience and privately answer questions from an expert judging panel in a hotly contested Final Live Event.
In addition to the pitches, we had speakers, discussion panels and numerous networking sessions, where attendees got to mingle amongst exhibits from the finalists, hopefully opening the door to future partnerships, collaborations, sales and investments. Speaking on upcoming innovation projects in the rail industry we had David Simoes-Brown from 100% Open and Ian Downey from the European Space Agency. Our panel was discussing the barriers to innovation in achieving a seamless end-to-end journey, and featured David Clarke from the EIT, John Boon from Network Rail, Richard Kemp-Harper from the Technology Strategy Board, Sharon Hedges from Passenger Focus, and Geoff Inskip from Centro, with InnoCentive’s Jonathon Slater keeping order. As I’m sure all commuters will understand, discussing customer experience in the rail industry elicited a few strong opinions from both the audience and the panel. But above all it offered the attendees further insight into the challenges faced by the rail industry and the efforts that were currently being made to try and overcome them.
With such high stakes there was a great nervous, excited and suspenseful energy present throughout the day, peaking at the evening’s award ceremony where the winners were announced. Altogether, the competition demonstrated the high capacity for innovation amongst the world’s entrepreneurs and indicated a promising future for customer experience on the GB railway.
Regular Rail Passenger Challenge
- Caution Your Blast and Ayoupa won with their mobile app - ‘Commuter Intelligent Passenger’. This offers real-time journey monitoring on intermodal door-to-door journeys with personalised information, advice and alerts from its intelligent predictive capabilities.
- The two runner-ups were Jeppesen and Gerrit Boehm.
Discretionary Rail Passenger Challenge
- 3Squared won with their ‘Station Master’ smartphone app, taking the concept of route planning provided by popular apps such as Google Maps and applying this technology and concept to station layouts - enabling tourists and those with impairments to find platforms, amenities and access routes.
- The two runner-ups were Capito Systems and 4ward Thinking.
Rail Freight Customer Challenge
- Stobart Group, supported by Colas Rail, won with their ‘Stobart Express’ innovation, which combined high speed trains and/or small modular load units with low-emission road delivery vehicles, to enable fast and low-emission door-to-door distribution of multiple small-volume loads, to local stores, other business premises and residential properties.
- The runner-up was FreightArranger.
This rewarded exceptional proposals that transferred innovations developed for another application to the rail industry.
- Having already successfully applied their innovation and technology in the travel industry, routeRANK won with their software solution for freight transport planning. Incorporating road, sea and air transport data, their ‘Integrated Rail Freight Planner’ would be able to compute multi-modal shipment route options and propose real-time alternatives in the case of disruption.
About the competition
This was one of InnoCentive’s ‘Showcase Challenges’ which, like the Global Security Challenge, aims to connect diverse sources of innovation and bring together up-and-coming innovators with investors, industry leaders, customers, and suppliers in one place; a place for knowledge exchange, laying out the state of the art, and putting to the test the most important attribute for any company – the ability to convincingly communicate their idea.
The competition was led and funded by the GB rail industry’s Enabling Innovation Team, and was developed and managed by InnoCentive and IXC.
Authored by Graham Buchanan, Project Manager- Custom Services