UK infrastructure manager Network Rail has teamed up with Connected Places Catapult (CPC) to develop technologies to improve the rail network.

The agreement took place under ‘Innovation Factory’, which is part of Network Rail’s five-year £357m research and development (R&D) portfolio.

CPC will act as innovation partner to Network Rail. It will help identify challenges confronting the rail sector and search for various solutions that can be leveraged to resolve them.

It will conduct a wide range of activities to establish links with innovative businesses, which can help Network Rail to bring new solutions to the market.

CPC will also support new concepts, products and service development with the help of its technical capabilities.

CPC chief engagement officer Helen Wylde said: “New technologies and approaches are sweeping the transport industry and opening up an array of possibilities for improved operations on the rail network and end-user experience.

“In our role as Innovation Partner, we will be focused on creating an innovation pipeline that can make these possibilities a reality. In particular, we are aware of a wealth of innovation coming from the UK’s SME community and we will be looking at new ways to support them in entering the supply chain and for Network Rail to benefit from their know-how.”

Network Rail Safety, Technical and Engineering group director Martin Frobisher said: “The joint work from Network Rail’s R&D Portfolio and CPC on the Innovation Factory will help us make the most of this opportunity, driving innovation at pace and reaching out to a broader range of companies that will help us make a real difference to passengers and freight customers.”

Last month, Network Rail announced plans to provide millions of pounds to boost R&D at eight UK universities.