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London Midland backs tech firms to boost train journeys

Rail operator is supporting ten start-up companies to create new technology products which will improve passengers' journeys

Tech start-up firms working in the Labs by London Midland hub at iCentrum in Birmingham
Tech start-up firms working in the Labs by London Midland hub at iCentrum in Birmingham

Train operator London Midland has brought together ten technology start-ups to work as partners in developing products which will strive to improve passengers' experiences.

London Midland runs 1,300 trains every day, including the Cross City Line through Birmingham city centre, and has been researching passengers' concerns and views about their experiences.

The findings of this research have been presented to the start-ups which have now been challenged to use technology to address the specific points raised, such as travel delay compensation, and create solutions.

Based at London Midland's Labs in Innovation Birmingham's Serendip Smart City Incubator programme, they will be collectively working towards solving passenger issues to ensure better journeys and easier travel.

The selection process to secure a space at the labs saw more than 100 start-up companies apply with a 30-strong shortlist invited to pitch their ideas to a panel.

The successful cohort includes a queueing avoidance app, a rapid response passenger compensation platform, facial recognition technology and sensory messaging service for the hearing impaired.

They will be based at the labs in the iCentrum building for the next six months during which time they will take part in a scheme to help them develop solutions for rail as well as receiving support on how to grow their own organisations.

Participants will eventually have the chance to present their progress and pitch their ideas to an audience of investors, London Midland stakeholders and existing suppliers.

Ian McLaren, London Midland's finance and contracts director, said: "Technology is a positively disruptive force and using it to improve our passengers' journeys is part of our commitment to doing everything we can to make their rail experience better.

"We're immensely proud to be working with this group and can't wait to see what they will produce and how it will improve journeys."

David Hardman, chief executive of Innovation Birmingham, added: "We have experienced a fantastic response to the Serendip Smart City Incubator, with many of our start-ups across other quarters having already secured funding, obtained access to key markets and received useful mentoring from our commercial partners.

"We are thrilled to welcome the latest cohort to London Midland's Labs and look forward to supporting them on the next leg of their business journey."

The ten chosen firms are:

KOMPAS - created to save users time by presenting tailored suggestions and reviews to help people explore a city

RailRepay - compensation platform built specifically for the rail industry aimed at improving the consumer experience

Braci - technology capable of detecting sounds on board a train, like station announcements and passenger information, and uses this to push sensory and visual notifications through smart devices

Sphere - messaging platform which allows commuters to communicate with nearby transportation services through their social media channels

TransReport - app allows passenger users to report faults to travel companies in real-time and stay informed about progress with regard to fixing the fault

QShy - software which measures and manages pedestrian traffic using data and algorithms and can suggest alternate routes to avoid queues

Popwork - app bringing together a network of 'pop-up pods' which act as meeting rooms

Touchbyte - anonymous customer footfall, analytics, recognition and validation software system that uses the face recognition technology

Warwick Analytics - produces automated predictive analytics software which strives to cut the time it takes to compile predictions

Limitless Travel - provides bespoke holidays, tours, accommodation and travel for people with a disability

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