A new £7m government fund has been launched to develop innovative new ideas to make freight greener and more sustainable.
The freight innovation fund (FIF) will help fund up to 36 SMEs to work with industry-leading companies to test and roll out innovative new ideas and technology to improve how freight moves.
It is hoped the scheme will help unlock efficiencies and emissions reductions, such as how to organise containers better so they can be more easily broken up for the final part of their journey, or how to improve links between rail, maritime and road transport.
A statement from roads minister Richard Holden said the FIF would accelerate new ideas and technologies to develop a pipeline of innovations to move goods faster and easier.
“Our freight industry is vital to underpinning the economy and keeps Britain moving, so it is crucial we invest in new innovations to make it greener and quicker,” he added.
Ilona Kawka, digital trade and customs specialist at the Institute of Export & International Trade said:
“The launch of the FIF is a significant step towards improving supply chain resilience and promoting ESG principles.
“This fund will provide much-needed support to businesses that are looking to invest in sustainable practices.
“By supporting companies that are committed to improvements in freight distribution in ports, across different methods of transport, the FIF will not only strengthen the supply chain but also foster more sustainable business development for many companies. We want to see the future of UK trade as industry working closely together to deliver a world-class, seamless flow of goods across borders.”
The innovation fund was announced last year within the government’s 'future of freight' plan which includes environmental sustainability and improved resilience among its five priorities for the sector, reports Biofuels News.
The fund will look to support ideas and technology addressing, in particular, three long-standing issues:
- A lack of large-scale cross-industry data collection and sharing between different modes of freight
- Ways to improve how large consignments are broken up into smaller ones, which could reduce emissions and traffic
- Improvements in freight distribution in ports across different transport modes that could create knock-on benefits with timings, efficiencies and predictability
Kate Jennings, policy director at Logistics UK, said meeting the UK’s net zero target will require continued partnership between the government and industry.
“This innovation fund will be a welcome route for our member organisations to develop and access the technologies needed for goods to be moved in an increasingly green and cost-efficient way,” she said.