For the past few months, we’ve been working with train operator London Midland to run their new Labs programme; an innovation lab that brings together new technology projects, customer experience research and a startup accelerator. This post is an overview of the launch event that started the whole thing.
Back in January 2017, we launched a search for 10 startups who were working on ideas that had the same goal as London Midland - to simply make rail journeys better. By March, we had gone through a vigorous selection process to reach our 10 chosen companies and had embarked on a 12 week collaborative programme.
The programme has been designed to help these startups develop their products and services to be fit-for-purpose for the rail market.
Key components of the programme have been access to senior stakeholders within London Midland, access to data sets, and workshops on topics such as pitching skills and value proposition design.
The selected ten were working on a wide variety of projects, but each answered a key challenge within the industry today; from delay compensation and fault reporting, to accessibility and capacity management.
Although startup collaboration with more traditional enterprises is nothing new, the initiative is a first for the rail industry - so there’s a lot of buzz around what it is & how it works. So, on 12th April, we gathered 200 people from the worlds of rail, investment, startups and local government at a launch event at Innovation Birmingham Campus (where the Labs space is located), to unveil the ten startups.
After a brief welcome from Patrick Verwer, Managing Director at London Midland, we showed a video to the audience of each of the 10 companies talking about what they do, and what it means for the rail passenger experience:
KOMPAS: We're your pocket guide to the world's urban jungles. We create unique and tailored recommendations based on your interests.
Sphere: A machine-learning messaging platform which allows commuters to communicate with nearby transportation services.
Q Shy: Helping transport companies to measure and manage pedestrian traffic using device and system data, and complex algorithms.
Rail Repay: A compensation platform built specifically for consumers and the rail industry to improve the consumer experience and enable more efficient and accurate processing of valid delay or cancellation compensation claims.
Warwick Analytics: Producing automated predictive analytics software even with heterogeneous data. Predictions that would normally take months of skilled manual data scientist work in data preparation (or indeed prohibitive) can now take minutes.
Limitless Travel: Providing amazing holidays, tours, accommodation and travel for anybody. For anybody with any disability, and for anybody that just wants a really great holiday.
Popwork: An app-driven network of architecturally designed pop-up pods offering on demand meeting and touchdown space.
Touchbyte: Providing anonymous customer footfall/analytics, recognition and validation solutions using the latest, fast and accurate Face Recognition algorithms.
Braci: A technology solution capable of detecting a wide range of sounds which can then be pushed as easily understood sensory and visual notifications through smart devices.
Transreport: A smart app that allows you, the passenger, to send reports containing photos, videos, and comments of issues affecting your journey experience and environment.
The London Midland Labs startups are currently gearing up for Demo Day - a finale event where each company will present an overview of what they’ve been working on, and how they plan to proceed after the programme. Then, plans get underway for the second cohort of startups; a great longer-term commitment to collaboration and innovation from London Midland.
You can find out more about the initiative on the London Midland Labs website here.