Category Archives: Timeline

12th June ’06: TfL join the ITSS Innovation Platform Steering Group

Transport for London joined the ITSS Innovation Platform Steering Group, at ther sixth meeting in June 2006.  Other “new starters” at the Steering Group were the Vice Chairman of Intellect’s Transport Working Group – further increasing the industrial representation – and some new (and old) faces from DfT.

As usual, contributors shared progress statements on their programmes contributed into the Intelligent Transport Systems and Services (ITSS) Innovation Platform, to help ensure that they remain coordinated.


21st-22nd February ’06: The FITS final panel

Five innovative collaborative projects had emerged from the Future Intelligent Transport System’s (FITS) sandpit and the final hurdle was for a subset of the teams to present to a “dragon’s den”, made up primarily of industrial assessors, some of whom who had acted as mentors at the sandpit and some of whom were fresh to the initiative. The presentations were spread over two days and combined with the usual panel activity, combining the results from the peer reviewers and coming up with a final rank order. The panel had to make some difficult decisions, comparing “apples with oranges” and recommending where the three Government stakeholders should spend their money.

13th Feb ’07: The 5th ITSS Innovation Platform Steering Group

With the longer term challenges progressing well (otherwise known as the Future Intelligent Transport Systems, FITS, initiative or “Challenge B”), the Steering Group turned its attention to the shorter-term “Challenge A” and how best to coordinate the programmes, in particular DfT’s Road Pricing Demonstrations Project and DTI’s Technology Programme competition.

22-24th November ’06: The FITS sandpit

After much preparation and and anticipation, 41 lucky attendees made it into the sandpit environment, held over three days in a bizarre hotel near Heathrow. All entered with some trepidation …..

The lucky 41 were made up of 23 from industry, 15 academics and 3 Local Authorities, plus 9 mentors and a handful of facilitators and stakeholders.

3rd Nov ‘2006: Deadline for Expressions Of Interest for FITS sandpit

I describe this bit of the competition as trying to get a “Willy Wonka entry ticket” into the sandpit event. In the light of all of the feedback that I was picking up from industry on the CR&D processes, I was keen to make this stage as simple as possible for industry to compete to get into the sandpit. Hence, only short Expressions of Interest were required by early November.

Effectively, we were looking for each individual to meet at least two out of three of the following criteria:

– to have a particular innovation that they’d like to develop further,

– to have a track record in delivering innovations to the market-place and/or

– to have a track record in transport. 

Hence, they might be a “new entrant” to transport, but with a specific idea and evidence of bringing similar innovations into the market-place before. Or, they might not have a specific innovation in mind, but they have the right capabilities and experience to be able to deliver innovation the transport market-place, the right mindset going into the sandpit and a proven track record of having done so before. The middle ground is that they might have track record in transport and have a specific idea, but not quite sure how to execute on the full idea without partners.

From DTI’s perspective, the specific areas to be assessed within the Expressions of Interest were the individual put forward by the company, the innovations discussed within the submission, the track records in innovation and transport and the degree of commitment that the company was prepared to put behind that individual and the innovations developed.

In addition, it is key to consider the “team dynamic” within the sandpit and hence the expressions of interest could not be considered in isolation but needed to be considered in terms of whether there was the potential for complete supply chains to form up within consortia (with some degree for competition at the sandpit itself).  Also, for the sandpit to be successful, there will need to be a large degree of willingness to share ideas and meld them together so that the output is greater than the sum of the parts – this will require a certain flexibility in approach. There is a degree of “social engineering” that can be done to hopefully ensure that there are a reasonable degree of common interests going into the sandpit event itself.

We had a chosen independant panel of experts weigh up all of these competing factors, and make some difficult judgement call on who to invite into the sandpit process. 

9th October 2006 – Formal launch of FITS at the ITS World Congress in London

We were lucky that the ITS World Congress was taking place in London this year, but apart from that it was mostly down to hard work to get Stephen Ladyman and Lord Sainsbury on the same stage at the plenary of the first morning of the ITS World Congress, announcing the launch of the Future Intelligent Transport Systems (FITS) initiative.

A couple of quotes from the speeches (and one from the CEO of EPSRC):

“The UK Government has just launched a major research programme on future intelligent transport systems, which together with industry contributions will make just over £12M available for innovative demonstrator 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.”

Stephen Ladyman, Minister for Transport

 “I am delighted that DTI, DfT and EPSRC have come together to fund this important 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.” Lord Sainsbury, DTI Minister for Science & Innovation  “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.” John O’Reilly, Chief Executive of EPSRC Released at this formal launch was the call for Call for Expressions of Interest (EoI), which provided the innovation challenges that DfT were particularly interested in, the funding levels and described the process for the competition to get into the sandpit.

September 2006 – Advance notice of the FITS initiative

FITS, the Future Intelligent Transport Systems initiative, was the first truely joint activity organised by the ITSS Innovation Platform and brought together 3 Government stakeholders: DTI, EPSRC and DfT. In order to try and give industry as much notice as possible, we provided a ‘joint annoucement’ of the project was made in September, via 10x Knowledge Transfer Networks, in advance of the formal fanfare at the ITS World Congress.

Quoting from the attachment: Joint Notice of the FITS programme

“The sponsors’ vision for this Future Intelligent Transport Systems (FITS) initiative is to support highly innovative and wide-ranging research, innovation and technology demonstrator projects, combining the best UK expertise in Industry, Local Authorities, transport service providers and Universities. This initiative is aimed at bringing benefit to all of these sectors but particularly to the longer-term development of UK-based companies seeking to position themselves in what is a potentially huge global market opportunity.

To enable this, the sponsors will be supporting a limited number of initiatives that:

  •  Develop innovative solutions to transport problems;

  •  Stimulate and/or accelerate industry investment in innovation;

  •  Demonstrate innovation in transport operations and exploitation of project outputs;

  •  Adopt a multidisciplinary approach;

  •  Show promise of high quality research outputs.”