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Virgin Trains £25m Startup Fund Looks To Improve Train Travel

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Entrants are tasked with improving the passenger journey and increasing digital engagement

Virgin Trains has partnered with Virgin StartUp to create a startup accelerator “on a mission to improve train travel”, with a £25 million innovation fund up for grabs.

Virgin is running a competition open to innovative businesses from across the world, offering the winners fast-track procurement and the chance to scale their operations, along with financial rewards.

The ‘Platform-X’ initiative is aimed at solving the key rail challenges facing passengers today and, ultimately, identify businesses that will lead the future of rail travel.

Richard Branson, Platform-X

Fast-track

The initiative consists of four key challenge areas: Improving the end-to-end passenger journey experience, growing Virgin Trains’ passenger database to help increase digital engagement, improving the back-end operational and management processes and any other “wildcard” innovations that could be applied to the rail industry.

Entrants will then be judged on a number of areas, including the quality of their concept, the commercial potential and the impact it could have on the Virgin Trains organisation.

Successful candidates will take part in a five-week programme at the train networks’s King’s Cross offices, where they will be given access to industry experts, seasoned entrepreneurs and senior Virgin Group executives.

“As part of the Virgin Group, we are always on the lookout for ways to do things differently,” said Warrick Dent, director of safety and operations for Virgin Trains on the East Coast.

“Platform-X gives us a great opportunity to invite ideas from technologists and entrepreneurs about how we can transform rail journeys in the future and, in return, provide startups with an opportunity to scale their business.”

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group,  commented: “At Virgin, we know that the best way to stay relevant is to embrace new ideas and technology. Platform-X is not only trying to find the best startups to work with, but is also providing a platform to help them grow and flourish.”

The application process is open until the 11th June, with a ‘pitch day’ taking place on the 21st June.

Virgin Trains announced last week that it is moving to cloud content management platform Box to help drive employee collaboration, while Virgin Media is making strides to lead the broadband arms race with 100Mbps connectivity.

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