Funding competition 5G enabled road and rail transport trials in the West Midlands, round 2

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million to support development of 5G enabled transport innovations. This funding is from West Midlands 5G (WM5G).

This competition is now closed.

Start new application

Competition sections


West Midlands 5G (WM5G) will work in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) through Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).

Together they will invest up to £2.5 million in innovation projects that develop a new service or product. These must improve road and rail operational efficiency, provide better-connected transport or improve traveller experience. Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will manage the competition process.

This competition will support projects up to 12 months in duration.

Your project must trial using 5G in the West Midlands.

Projects will be awarded grant and monitored by WM5G.

You must consult with Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) if the transport monitoring and control system:

  • needs to integrate with the physical road or rail networks
  • requires data

You must also ask TfWM to provide a letter of support for your project. Consultation days will be published specifically to review projects and gain understanding prior to letters of support being issued. Please apply for these appointments through the WM5G website.

You must consult with a mobile network operator (Vodafone, O2, BT or 3) to confirm 5G functionality is available for your project in the West Midlands.

You must include a public or private communications network provider or a communications integrator as a partner or a sub-contractor in your consortium.

The competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Funding type


Project size

Whilst there is no maximum on total eligible project costs, your project can claim up to £500,000 in grant funding.

Who can apply

State aid

Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty (UiD). However, as per the amendment on 2 July 2020 to the General Block Exemption regulation, we will provide funding to organisations that can prove they were not a UiD on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UiD between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. We will ask for evidence of this.

If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information see our general guidance on state aid.

Your project

Your project must:

  • only claim up to £500,000 in grant funding
  • be up to 12 months in length
  • start by 15 March 2021
  • end by 21 March 2022

The grant you claim as a consortium must be no more than 50% of the total eligible project costs. There is no maximum on total eligible project costs. If you request funding of more than 50% of the total eligible project costs or the grant requested exceeds the maximum allowed your application will be ineligible.

If your project’s duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes. We will decide whether to approve your request.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with at least one other UK registered business
  • if they wish, collaborate with UK registered research organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • include a communications network provider (public or private) or communications integrator as a partner or sub-contractor
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

If your project needs to integrate with the physical road or rail networks or needs data from the transport monitoring and control system, you must:

  • consult Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) before submitting your application
  • include TfWM as a consortium partner or upload a letter of support from TfWM

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Find out which definition your organisation falls into.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, public sector organisation, or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant
  • enter its costs in the Innovation Funding Service

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant’s normal selection process.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. If an overseas subcontractor is selected, a case must be made as to why no UK-based subcontractor can be used including a detailed rationale, evidence of UK companies that have been approached and reasons why they were unable to do so. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Multiple applications

When a business leads on an application it can collaborate in a further 2 applications.

An academic institution can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications


You can use a resubmission to apply for this competition


West Midlands 5G (WM5G) have allocated up to £2.5 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

We are expecting collaborative experimental development projects. ‘Effective collaboration' means collaboration between at least 2 independent parties. The goal must be either to:

  • exchange knowledge or technology, or
  • achieve a common objective based on the division of labour where the parties jointly define the scope of the collaborative project, contribute to its implementation and share its risks, as well as its results

Contract research and provision of research services are not considered forms of collaboration.

For collaborations between businesses, no one business partner can be responsible for more than 70% of the total eligible project costs.

For collaborations between businesses and research organisations, the research organisation must bear at least 10% of the total eligible project costs and have the right to publish their own research.

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 20% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

As a consortium, total project grant funding must not exceed 50% of your total eligible project costs. This is regardless of the individual partners’ grants claims. . If you request funding of more than 50% of the total eligible project costs your application will be ineligible.

We are expecting collaborative experimental development projects. If your consortium includes a research organisation, your organisation can claim a maximum grant of:

  • up to 60% of your eligible project costs if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 40% if you are a large organisation

If your consortium does not include a research organisation, your organisation can claim a maximum grant of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • up to 25% if you are a large organisation
(Text update: 29 September 2020. Added information about funding amounts if a research organisation is not included within the collaboration)
Find out if your business is a small or medium sized enterprise in the EU definitions.

To see which costs are eligible read the project costs guidance.

If you do not correctly calculate your costs, based upon your consortium members and the relevant percentage rate available to you, your application will be ineligible.

Grant funding will be provided by WM5G to the lead partner, for distribution to their consortium members. Prompt payment terms will be agreed between consortium partners.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘Aid for research and development projects’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure your organisation is eligible to receive state aid

Your proposal

The aim of this competition is to:

  • develop new services and products that improve road and rail operational efficiency,
  • provide better-connected transport or
  • improve traveller experience.

Your project must:

  • focus on one of the use cases listed in the specific themes
  • include 3 months of user or product testing in your chosen location in the West Midlands using the live 5G environment

Your project proposal must demonstrate either how 5G:

  • is essential to developing your new service or product, or
  • offers a significant enhancement compared to current mobile communications

You must aim to demonstrate improvements, including benefits derived from 5G bandwidth, latency, security or reliability in one or more of the following:

  • operation of roads to reduce congestion and improve safety
  • improvements in air quality (for example, CO2, PM and NOx)
  • train, tram, bus or freight services to improve business operational efficiency or offer an increase in revenue
  • better joined up transport for people or things (bus, train, tram, car, HGV) to provide more cohesive travel and transport solutions and transport information across the modes of transport, improving customer experience.

Your project must demonstrate business viability and focus on exploitation. It must concentrate on showing the benefits of the product or service in a measurable way.

You must align your project to the Midlands Future Mobility initiative, the West Midlands CAM Lab or the ConVEx UK connected mobility data exchange. Your application must describe how you will achieve this.

We are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets, technological maturities and specified themes.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on products or services in one or more of the following use case areas:

  1. Movement of things - freight and logistics.
  2. Movement of people – public transport, economic recovery and traveller confidence post COVID-19.
  3. Road operation and management.

1. Movement of things - freight and logistics.

Choose one or more of the following:

  • transport, drop off or pick up of goods, pallets, packages or parcels to customers or between businesses which may include construction, manufacturing, residential or retail. This may include simplifying the interface, increasing resilience of operations, or creating transport and logistics related efficiencies that can be realised outside of the direct line-side or manufacturing process
  • journey improvements through better and more informed planning, hazard avoidance and dynamic in journey updates to improve delivery, operational effectiveness and improve congestion
  • securing a meaningful level of adoption of platform for delivery as a service using big data and cooperative models between freight and logistics operators and consumers of their services. Of particular interest are propositions which can benefit the SME freight and logistics operators

2. Movement of people – Public transport recovery and traveller confidence post COVID-19

Choose one or more of the following:

  • products or services which encourage the use of non-single occupancy car trips in higher polluting vehicles. This could include public transport (including bus, train or tram), eScooters, cycling or walking but may also include Mobility as a Service and sharing economy solutions. The products developed will also provide an enhanced transport experience or improved revenue opportunity for service operators.
  • products or services which provide operational improvements or cost savings for rail, tram or bus operators.
  • enhanced passenger or employee confidence and protection through detection of social distancing, crowding, health scanning or other key data to support healthy travel. This data will be available before or during journeys. The services may include guidance to travellers for options of services available, tailored to individuals’ needs.

3. Road operation and management

Develop a traffic control intervention to minimise congestion using:

  • advanced traffic light control
  • roadside warnings


  • live and adapted route planning with the live traffic data from sensors being rolled out across the West Midlands

Access to detailed local emissions measuring and weather information is available for integration with novel interventions.

Research categories

We will fund experimental development projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects we will not fund

We are not funding:

  • media or broadcast projects
  • vehicle-to-vehicle safety critical use case trials
9 September 2020
Online briefing event
15 September 2020
Online briefing event
16 September 2020
Competition opens
2 December 2020 11:00am
Competition closes
11 January 2021
Invite to interview
1 February 2021 9:55am
Applicants notified

Before you start

You must read the guidance on applying for a competition on the Innovation Funding Service before you start.

What we ask you

The application is split into 3 sections:

  1. Project details.
  2. Application questions.
  3. Finances.


If your online application is successful you will be invited to attend an interview with WM5G, where you must give a presentation.You may be asked to attend in person or online. We will tell you the interview location closer to the time.

Before the interview, by the deadline stated in the invitation email, you:

  • must send a list of who will attend the interview
  • must send your interview presentation slides
  • can send a written response to the assessors’ feedback

List of attendees

Agree the list with your consortium. Up to 6 people from your project can attend, ideally one person from each organisation. They must all be available on all published interview dates. We are unable to reschedule slots once allocated.

Presentation slides

Your interview presentation must:

  • use Microsoft PowerPoint
  • be no longer than 20 minutes
  • have no more than 20 slides
  • not include any video or embedded web links

You cannot change the presentation after you submit it or bring any additional materials to the interview.

Written response to assessor feedback

This is optional and is an opportunity to answer the assessors’ concerns. It can:

  • be up to 5 A4 pages in a single PDF or Word document
  • include charts or diagrams


After your presentation the panel will spend 40 minutes asking questions. You will be expected to answer based on the information you provided in your application form, presentation and the response to feedback.

1. Project details

This section provides background for the assessors and is not scored.

Application team

Decide which organisations will work with you on the project. Invite people from those organisations to help complete the application.

Project summary

Describe your project briefly and be clear about what makes it innovative. We use this section to assign experts to assess your application.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Public description

Describe your project in detail, and in a way that you are happy to see published. Do not include any commercially sensitive information. If we award your project funding, we will publish this description. This could happen before you start your project.

Your answer can be up to 400 words long.


Describe how your project fits the scope of the competition. If your project is not in scope it will be immediately rejected and will not be sent for assessment. We will give you feedback on why. Your answer can be up to 400 words long.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

EDI survey (opens in new window)

Please complete the EDI survey. We collect and report on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data to address under-representation in business innovation and ensure equality, diversity and inclusion across all our activities.

The survey will ask you questions on your gender, age, ethnicity and disability status. You will always have the option to ‘prefer not to say’ if you do not feel comfortable sharing this information.

2. Application questions

The assessors will score your answers. You will receive feedback from them for each one.

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long. Do not include any website addresses (URLs) in your answers.

Question 1. Need or challenge

What is the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity behind your innovation?

Describe or explain:

  • the main motivation for the project
  • the business need, technological challenge or market opportunity
  • the nearest current state-of-the-art, including those near market or in development, and its limitations
  • any work you have already done to respond to this need, for example if the project focuses on developing an existing capability or building a new one
  • the wider economic, social, environmental, cultural or political challenges which are influential in creating the opportunity, such as incoming regulations, using our Horizons tool if appropriate

Question 2. Approach and innovation

What approach will you take and where will the focus of the innovation be?

Describe or explain:

  • how will 5G enable your product or service
  • whether the Midlands Future Mobility CAM Lab or ConVEx project is aligned to your project activity
  • how you will respond to a market or customer need, challenge or opportunity identified
  • how you will improve on the nearest current state-of-the-art product or services
  • whether the innovation will focus on the expansion of existing products or services or will the innovation develop new products or services

Describe or explain:

  • the technology readiness level (TRL) development during the project (start and finish TRL during funded project development)
  • the 5G communications service which enables your project; for example, capacity or speed of data transmission
  • if the project, product or service design require only a commercial 5G service or you will need a private 5G installation
  • if a private network is deployed, how it will be integrated into the commercial 5G network
  • the nature of the outputs you expect from the project (for example report, demonstrator, know-how, new process, product, or service design) and how these will help you to target the need, challenge or opportunity identified

You must submit one appendix including a Gantt chart of activities and the test plan to support your answer. It must be a PDF, can be up to 2 A4 pages long and 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 3. Team and resources

Who is in the project team and what are their roles?

Describe or explain:

  • whether you need a communications network provider (public or private) or communications integrator as a partner for 5G communications support
  • how Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) will be involved if interaction with the network or data access is required, and evidence of an agreement through a letter of support
  • the roles of all team members from each organisation
  • the skills and experience of all members of the team that are relevant to the project you are proposing
  • the resources, equipment and facilities needed for the project and how you will access them
  • the details of any vital external parties, including sub-contractors, who you will need to work with to successfully carry out the project
  • the current relationships between project partners and how these will change as a result of the project
  • any roles you will need to recruit for

You must submit an appendix to describe the skills and experience of the main people working on the project, a RASIC chart and a letter of support from TfWM. It must be submitted as a single appendix in a PDF format, can be up to 4 A4 pages long and 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 4. Market awareness

What does the market you are targeting look like?

Describe or explain:

  • the markets (domestic, international or both) you will be targeting in the project, and any other potential markets
  • the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available
  • the structure and dynamics of the target markets, including customer segmentation, together with predicted growth rates within clear timeframes
  • the target markets’ main supply or value chains and business models, and any barriers to entry that exist
  • the current UK position in targeting these markets
  • the size and main features of any other markets not already listed

If your project is highly innovative, where the market may be unexplored, describe or explain:

  • what the market’s size might to be
  • how your project will try to explore the market’s potential

Question 5. Outcomes and route to market

How are you going to grow your business and increase your productivity into the long term as a result of the project?

Describe or explain:

  • how this project fits with your current product, service lines or offerings
  • how it will make you more competitive
  • your current position in the markets and supply or value chains outlined, and whether you will be extending or establishing your market position
  • your target customers or end users, and the value to them, for example why they would use or buy your product
  • your route to market and how long it will take beyond this funding for the product to reach market maturity
  • how you are going to profit from the innovation, including increased revenues or cost reduction
  • how the innovation will affect your productivity and growth, in both the short and the long term
  • how you will protect and exploit the outputs of the project, for example through know-how, patenting, designs or changes to your business model
  • your strategy for targeting the other markets you have identified during or after the project

If there is any research organisation activity in the project, describe:

  • your plans to spread the project’s research outputs over a reasonable timescale
  • how you expect to use the results generated from the project in further research activities

You must submit a financial projection on a timeline as an appendix to support your answer. It must include the further investment required to introduce the product to market beyond this public funding and an approximate revenue forecast. The appendix must be a PDF, no longer than one A4 page, no bigger than 10MB in size. and the font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 6. Project benefit and impact

What impact will the project have after it is complete?

Describe or explain how your project will achieve one or more of the following:

  1. Improvements in the operation of roads to reduce congestion, improve safety or improve air quality (e.g. CO2, PM and NOx)
  2. Improvements in train, tram or bus services to enhance the business operational efficiency, improve customer confidence or offer improved revenue to transport operators during and post COVID
  3. Provide opportunities to improve operation or service of freight and logistics.

Describe the benefit measures and estimate the level of benefit as a result of the project in the following areas.

Economic benefits:

  • jobs creation or increase in GDP
  • congestion reduction
  • operational improvement in service or business
  • improvement in reliability of service or product
  • more accessible transport, creating wider appeal

Environmental and safety benefits:

  • cleaner (less emissions or waste)
  • less noise
  • fewer accidents or severity of accidents reduced

Experience benefits:

  • customer service benefits leading to improved satisfaction, including what aspect of experience would be improved and why

Please provide details of the assumptions behind your forecast and how you would track the benefits during the project.

Question 7. Project management

How will you manage the project effectively?

Describe or explain:

  • the main work packages of the project, indicating the lead partner assigned to each and the total cost of each one
  • your approach to project management, identifying any major tools and mechanisms you will use to get a successful and innovative project outcome
  • the management reporting lines
  • your project plan in enough detail to identify any links or dependencies between work packages or milestones

You must submit a project plan or Gantt chart as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no bigger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 8. Risks

What are the main risks for this project?

Describe or explain:

  • the main risks and uncertainties of the project, including the technical, commercial, managerial and environmental risks, providing a risk register if appropriate
  • how you will mitigate these risks
  • any project inputs that are critical to completion, such as resources, expertise, data sets
  • any output likely to be subject to regulatory requirements, certification, ethical issues and so on, and how you will manage this

You must submit a risk register as an appendix to support your answer. It must be a PDF and can be up to 2 A4 pages long and no bigger than 10MB in size. The font must be legible at 100% zoom.

Question 9. Added value

What impact would an injection of funding from WM5G have on the businesses involved?

Describe or explain:

  • whether this project could go ahead in any form without funding from WM5G and if so, the difference the public funding would make, such as a faster route to market, more partners or reduced risk
  • the likely impact of the project on the businesses of the partners involved
  • why you are not able to wholly fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding, and what would happen if the application is unsuccessful
  • how this project would change the nature of R&D activity the partners would undertake, and the related spend

Question 11. Cyber security and data management

How will your project keep the communications between devices secure and how will you assure data management and GDPR?

Describe or explain:

  • what measures and standards you will adopt to ensure secure communications over 5G
  • how you will make sure the data sources will be reliable and protected
  • what data will be collected, how it will be stored and any retention procedures you will apply
  • how GDPR will be managed, what protocols you will use during the project and any considerations for a fully verified product in use
  • what cyber security experience the project partners have
  • what cyber security procedures you will use
  • details of the lead partner or main delivery partners robust security policy they have in place to address data and cyber security


Each organisation in your project must complete their own project costs, organisation details and funding details in the application. Academic institutions must complete and upload a Je-S form.

For full details on what costs you can claim see our project costs guidance.

Background and further information

West Midlands 5G (WM5G) is a new organisation set up to accelerate the benefits of 5G throughout the region. It is wholly owned by the West Midlands Combined Authority. WM5G will:·support projects which speed up the launch of 5G networks ·test, prove and scale up new 5G services The funding will be provided by WM5G and form part of the Urban Connected Communities (UCC) programme and the Transport for West Midlands Future Mobility Zone programme.

Network operator 5G coverage
Please be specific about the 5G operation and the type of 5G devices you intend to use or support. We recommend you hold detailed discussions with network operators to check 5G will be available for testing your product or service. There are rough guides regarding availability on the operators’ websites:


Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) will make 4 separate days available for consultation while the competition is open. These dates will be published during the briefing events.

Extra help

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

Contact us

If you need more information, email us at or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 11:30am or 2pm and 4.30pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Enterprise Europe Network

If you are a UK SME and successful in receiving an award, you will be contacted by your local Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) Innovation Advisor. They act on behalf of Innovate UK to discuss the growth opportunities for your business.

They offer bespoke business support services to help you maximise your project and business potential. This service forms part of your Innovate UK offer under our commitment to help UK SMEs grow and scale.

Please engage positively with your EEN contact so that, working together, you can determine the most appropriate form of growth support for your business.

Need help with this service? Contact us