Funding competition SBRI: Innovation in cycling and walking

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £470,000 for innovative proposals that encourage more journeys by bicycle or on foot.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


The Department for Transport (DfT) will fund up to £470,000 for innovative projects that lead to more walking and cycling.

Proposals will tackle current barriers and encourage more journey stages to be made by bicycle or on foot. Innovations may include, for example, technology, infrastructure, manufacturing or behavioural change.

This competition has 2 phases. Up to £170,000 is allocated for phase 1, and up to £300,000 for phase 2.

  • phase 1: proof of concept. Projects should last up to 15 weeks and range in size up to a total cost of £25,000 each
  • phase 2: demonstrator projects. Projects should last up to 9 months. They can range in size up to a total cost of £100,000 per project

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

Funding type


Project size

Up to £170,000 is allocated for phase 1, and up to £300,000 for phase 2.

Find out if you are eligible to apply

The competition is open to individuals, groups and organisations. It is particularly suitable for early-stage, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Industry partners such as local government, independent and third sectors can carry out the project on their own or with others.

Projects that we won't fund

In this competition we are not funding projects covering:

  • solutions that do not address barriers to cycling and/or walking
  • research only

The competition scope

This competition seeks proposals for innovations that encourage more people to make journeys by bicycle and/or on foot.

The government’s vision is for cycling and walking to become the natural choice for shorter journeys. The cycling and walking investment strategy sets out the Department for Transport’s (DfT) ambitions for increasing the number of journeys and journey stages made on foot or by bicycle.

To meet these aims, DfT intends to focus on:

  • better safety: safety and safety perceptions have been cited as the biggest barriers for people wanting to take up cycling and walking
  • better mobility: to make cycling and walking normal, easy and enjoyable, we need better links and networks to key destinations
  • better streets: well-designed and accessible streets can encourage people to walk or cycle more as part of their daily routine

This is an open competition run as a Small Research Business Initiative (SBRI). DfT is looking to fund a portfolio of projects that propose innovative means of tackling the barriers to walking and cycling, leading to more journey stages being made by bicycle or on foot.

Specific competition themes

Key areas of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • making it easier for people to cycle to work
  • improving the image of cycling so that more of people feel it is an activity they can incorporate into their daily routines
  • improving road safety and helping people, particularly teenagers and women, feel safer. This follows that once children leave school there is a significant drop in the number who cycle, and women make less than half the number of trips by bicycle than men
  • making it easier to undertake journeys that include both cycling and travelling by rail
  • increasing walking among target groups, including those aged between 30 and 49, and over 60
  • improving actual and perceived road safety for pedestrians through safer crossings, increased personal safety and design of objects and equipment installed on streets (street furniture)
  • using open source data to encourage walking as part of a longer trip involving public transport
19 April 2017
Competition opens
7 June 2017 12:00pm
Registration closes
14 June 2017
Submission deadline, competition closed 12:00 midday.
14 June 2017 12:00pm
Competition closes
28 July 2017
Applicants notified

How to apply

To apply for this competition:

We will not accept late applications. Your application is confidential.

External, independent experts assess the quality of your application. We will then select and build a portfolio of projects that:

  • are high quality
  • reflect a range as described in the scope
  • reflect the potential for short, medium and long-term return on investment for the company and the UK as a whole

Read the general guidance for applicants carefully before you apply. It will help your chances of submitting a quality application. Applications will have a greater chance of success if they start with a description of the challenge and the proposed solution.

Background and further information

The benefits of increasing rates of cycling and walking are substantial. For people, it means cheaper travel and better health. For businesses, it means increased productivity (with, for example, regular cyclists taking one less sick day per year than non-cyclists) and increased footfall. And for society as a whole it means lower congestion, better air quality, and more vibrant, attractive places and communities.

Cycling’s contribution to the UK economy is around £3 billion. Existing measures to increase cycling and walking include:

  • cycle training
  • cycle hire schemes
  • cycle parking
  • cycle sharing
  • safety innovations
  • journey planning tools
  • initiatives that encourage people to cycle or walk to work/school
  • electric bikes
  • various Walking Cities programmes

The DfT is keen to receive proposals that target the key barriers to cycling and walking. Innovations may include, for example, technology, infrastructure, manufacturing or behavioural change interventions. Proposals may be for radical innovation (for example, connected transport) as well as incremental innovation.

Applicants will maintain intellectual property rights for the results of the project and can exploit this commercially after the project is completed.

About SBRI competitions

SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector. This can lead to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness. The initiative supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services. It does this through the public procurement of research and development.

SBRI generates new business opportunities for companies and provides a route to market for their ideas. It also bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies.

Further help and information

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

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