Four train operators, three with local links, have joined forces on a Dragons’ Den-style scheme to support innovation in the rail industry.

LNER, Northern, Southeastern and TransPennine Express are looking for cutting-edge technology startups to apply to Future Labs – a scheme aimed to accelerate ideas that address common and emerging issues for the sector.

Successful applicants will gain access to industry data and resources as well as mentors and subject matter experts working for the train operators to bring their products and services to life.

They will be able to apply, test and demonstrate their ideas in real-world environments over a 12-week period.

For more information and details of how to apply, visit: The deadline for applications is Sunday, 16 June 2024.

A spokesperson on behalf of the four train operators said: “Future Labs is all about transforming the rail industry through open, pioneering and proven innovation.

“By giving technology startups access to live environments and expert mentorship they can test their proposed solutions in a real-world environment.

“Ultimately, this is all about advancing the passenger and employee experience as well as supporting performance and operational excellence.”

The AI platform Amygda is a startup that achieved breakthrough success across the rail industry in 2022.

Chief executive and founder of the Derby-based company, Faizan Patankar, said of the value of Future Labs to their success: “The rail industry provided us with invaluable access to live environments that allowed us to test and develop our product.

“The unique opportunity to generate our own insights was instrumental in building an understanding of the nuances of real-world data capture.

“Given the excellent experience it was to work with rail experts, the expanded scale of the programme with four operators is a really exciting opportunity for innovators looking to disrupt an industry.”

LNER, Northern, Southeastern, and TransPennine Express are wholly owned subsidiaries of DfT OLR Holdings Limited (‘DOHL’), the Public Sector Owning Group.