Funding competition SBRI: innovation in rail security surveillance analytics, phase 1

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £968,000, plus VAT, for innovations that demonstrate security surveillance analytics in Network Rail stations.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


This is a 2-phase Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition open to organisations of all sizes based in the UK, EU or EEA.

Network Rail will invest up to £968,000, plus VAT, in phase 1 of this competition. An extra £500,000, plus VAT, will be available for phase 2. This will support the development and demonstration of new security analytics for railway stations. The competition process is managed by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.

The competition supports the objectives of Network Rail’s Control Period 6 (CP6) funding strategy for research and development. It intends to find out whether security surveillance systems and associated analytics can work in a station environment without disrupting the rail network.

This is the first phase of a 2-phase competition. A decision to proceed with phase 2 will depend on the outcomes from phase 1. Only successful applicants from phase 1 will be able to apply to take part in phase 2. We will monitor changes between your phase 1 and phase 2 submissions. We will not accept unjustified major changes in the consortium or costs.

Phase 1

In the first phase you will develop and demonstrate your analytics system using pre-recorded data.

Phase 2

The successful phase 1 projects will be invited to further develop their research and development (R&D) by trialling the system in a live station environment.

The competition closes at midday 12pm UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Your project’s total eligible costs for phase 1 must be up to £121,000, plus VAT. For phase 2, the total eligible costs will be up to £250,000, plus VAT.

Who can apply

Phase 1

Your project’s total eligible costs must be up to £121,000, plus VAT. Phase 1 projects must plan to start by March 2020 and can last up to 3 months. We expect to fund up to 8 phase 1 projects.

Phase 2

For phase 2, your project’s total eligible costs must be up to £250,000, plus VAT. We expect to fund 2 phase 2 projects. Projects must plan to start by July 2020 and last up to 12 months.

Lead organisation

Your organisation must:

  • be an organisation of any size
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • be based in the UK, EU or the EEA

Your organisation can work alone or, if you do not have all the required expertise, you can work with others as subcontractors.

We understand it may be a challenge to access railway assets and get permission to make modifications. You will need to develop your own relationships with railway asset owners, but to get help finding sub-contractors you could:


We have allocated up to £968,000, plus VAT, to fund innovation projects in phase 1.

Successful projects will be 100% funded. The funding is provided by Network Rail and the competition process is managed by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.

Applications must have at least 50% of the contract value attributed directly and exclusively for research and development (R&D) services. R&D does not include:

  • commercial development activities such as quantity production
  • supply to establish commercial viability or to recover R&D costs
  • integration, customisation or incremental adaptations and improvements to existing products or processes

Portfolio approach

For this competition, Innovate UK and Network Rail will use a portfolio approach to maximise the benefit of the investment of public funding. The portfolio will be spread across a range of project durations and project costs, including demonstrating value for money.

Your proposal

This competition aims to find out whether security surveillance systems and associated analytics can work in a station environment without disrupting the rail network.

In phase 1 you will develop and demonstrate your analytics system using pre-recorded data. If you are invited to phase 2 you will further develop your R&D by trialling the system in a live station environment. Your application must describe your proposal and costs for both phases.

The goal is to install surveillance analytics to enhance existing systems. The objective is to enhance safety and to reduce delay minutes resulting from station incidents caused by unusual, unsuitable and undesirable behaviours. Network Rail aims to create a detailed report on the projects’ findings, so it can provide an initial business case. This includes successes and failures in the station environment in phase 2.

Phase 1 proposal

Your proposal must show that your system can meet the following requirements to progress to the phase 2 trial.


  • handle feeds from 20 to 30 cameras
  • handle the number of feeds found in a variety of station environments

Your proposal must show how scalability will affect performance.


  • process 720p and 1080p image quality
  • not use external connectivity on the cloud or internet


  • comply with Network Rail security, technical and data standards
  • use installed versions of the product at the station
  • work with the station management system after the trial

User requirements and alerts:

  • show audible and visual alerts to operators
  • show the operator the location in the station
  • identify the camera location to the operator
  • monitoring all day, every day

Your proposal must also show:

  • whether you have experience of implementing similar systems
  • that you can develop your technology to the scope requirements
  • the maturity of your technology
  • how you will deal with asset management or Network Rail Telecom assurance before the live trial (phase 2)
  • that you will build in reviews during the phase 2 trial to ensure quality at 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months (end of trial)

Required outputs from phase 1

During phase 1, you will develop an analytics system to work in a railway environment. You will be given 30 days of recorded video data to analyse to help refine your system.

An assessment day will follow to analyse 2 days’ worth of data from 30 cameras. The data will include a number of security events for the surveillance system to identify.

At the end of phase 1 you must produce:

  • a description of the events and behaviours that the system detected, from the assessment day
  • an outline of the performance specification of a proposed automated video analytics system for stations
  • an outline for a trial plan (to be completed in phase 2) to demonstrate the performance of the system in a live railway station environment

Your project’s performance in phase 1 and acceptance to phase 2 will be evaluated using a scoring matrix agreed by Network Rail. Details of the scoring matrix will be provided to projects during Phase 1 and will include:

  • the percentage of correct positive identifications of items of interest
  • the number of false positive identifications
  • the percentage of missed identifications
  • whether the system will be practical and usable in a railway environment
  • cost versus benefits

Phase 2

If you are invited to apply for phase 2 your installation and trial should demonstrate that the system can:

  • automatically detect and alert the operator to appropriate incidents
  • deliver correct alerts with minimal rates of false positives and missed events
  • integrate with existing Network Rail procedures and operations

At end of the trial you must return the system to standard Network Rail operations.

You must produce a final research report with evidence to support your findings, showing how the technology performs in railway environments. It must include:

  • an identification of appropriate incidents
  • a list of the outcomes and successes
  • evidence for scalability of the system
  • a performance specification of the system

Support from Network Rail

For Phase 1, Network Rail will give all projects:

  • the specification of the recorded data that Network Rail will make available
  • sample data

For Phase 2, Network Rail will additionally give all projects:

  • access to stations

  • contact with the organisation that maintains the existing CCTV systems
  • the specifications of the existing CCTV system’s data feeds
  • access to Network Rail’s telecoms resource

This supporting information is made available to applicants when the competition opens via the secure file upload site.

Rights and responsibilities

In normal circumstances you will keep all rights to your intellectual property (IP).

Innovate UK will be responsible for funding your activity and monitoring your project. Network Rail will be available to provide guidance and support. You must invite Network Rail to project meetings.

A data sharing agreement is in place between Innovate UK and Network Rail. Details of your application and progress reports will be shared between the 2 organisations.

The 8 suppliers chosen for phase 1 must sign a non-disclosure agreement with Network Rail as part of working on this programme.

Specific themes

The system you develop in phase 1 and trial in phase 2 must provide all of the following.

Third-party data integration:

  • must be able to take video data as a direct feed in real-time and through external media
  • it will be an internet protocol (IP) camera feed (not analogue)

Real time data driven alerts for:

  • loitering
  • unusual or undesirable behaviours and incidents
  • crowd density and behaviour, or crowding trend analysis for security

Detection of unusual and undesirable behaviour of individuals at stations:

  • system must adapt to crowds
  • system must highlight crowding trends

Detection of abandoned objects:

  • identify objects that are not part of the station which may have been left for a user defined period of time
  • identify high risk ‘abandoned’ object such as suitcases or bags
  • cater for time-bound exceptions for temporary objects or structures, such as when there’s maintenance work within a station
  • can adapt to station building changes
  • can fine tune false positives based on trends, to reduce the number of false alarms

Hostile reconnaissance:

  • identify hostile reconnaissance behaviours
  • distinguish between hostile reconnaissance and loitering

We do not want projects to focus on the following system performance aspects:

  • facial recognition
  • alerts driven by social media mood and/or geo-location
  • logo and pattern recognition
  • mobile phone analysis
  • body-worn camera images
  • long-line public address systems and communications

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding projects that:

  • are not likely to be successfully exploited by the rail industry to deliver benefits to rail or light-rail organisations and their customers
  • are not within a year of being ready for market
  • do not create a significant change in the level of innovation available in the rail industry
  • are not high maturity
  • have high technical risk
  • have collaborations that cannot effectively deliver a demonstration in a railway environment
  • do not deliver an immersive innovative demonstrator in a railway context
  • do not have a demonstration phase, offering the customer a chance to use the innovation and give feedback

2 September 2019
Publication date
16 September 2019
Competition opens
19 September 2019
London briefing event
6 November 2019 12:00pm
Registration closes
13 November 2019 12:00pm
Competition closes
6 January 2020
Interview week begins
13 January 2020
Applicants notified
10 February 2020
Contracts awarded

Before you start

To apply:

  • register online using the green button
  • get your unique application number and form by entering the username and password we email to you
  • read the guidance for applicants for this competition
  • consider attending the briefing event listed in ‘Dates’
  • complete and upload your online application to our secure server using Microsoft Word

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential. Innovate UK may share details of your application with Network Rail, in keeping with our privacy notice. Network Rail will also see your project’s progress reports and will expect to be invited to the quarterly progress meetings.

A selected panel of experts will assess the quality of your application.

Applicants who are successful in their applications will be invited to interviews in January. More details are provided in the guidance for applicants.

Background and further information

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. SBRI supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services. It does this through the public procurement of research and development (R&D). 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.

For more information on the railway industry’s priorities, please refer to:

Extra help

You can find information on how to enter this competition in the invitation to tender document, which is available for download on our secure site after registration.

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

If you need more information, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

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