UIC Innovation Awards is looking for candidates
The International Union of Railways (UIC) Innovation Awards is seeking candidates for the 4th edition of the Innovation Awards, to be held on December 6th in Paris. RailTech talked to UIC Research Manager Dennis Schut. “The goal of the Innovation Awards is to stimulate innovation”, Schut says.
The UIC Innovation Awards want to have more input from more diverse sources. “Everything used to be organised by and for the people of the rail industry. We need expertise from other sources, beyond railway companies. We want to include the academic world too.” Now it has become possible for rail research institutes and specialised universities to apply for membership for the IRRB, the UIC International Rail Research Board, which has initiated these Awards.
The share of the rail transport in the total transportation seems to remain at a stand still, according to Schut. “Less than 10 per cent of all transportation is by rail. That percentage needs to grow. And the only way to grow, is to focus on the needs of the user and potential user. It is no longer about just the tracks and the trains that run on them. In the future, we must turn to additional transportation methods to develop door-to-door services.”
The UIC Innovation Awards are handed out every other year to innovative new developments in the rail industry. “The ultimate goal of the UIC Innovation Awards is to stimulate renewal in the rail industry”, Schut explains. “Compared to other industries such as the car industry, the rail industry seems hesitant to innovate. Most innovations are relatively small, made out of necessity.”
“We are not looking for just great ideas. We are looking for innovations that have been tested and are ready to be used in the field. We are looking for very practical innovations”, Schut says. Candidates from all over the world are welcome. “We have seen a lot of applicants with innovations coming out of South-Korea and Japan.”
The awards are split up into two categories. The first category concerns rail research leading to innovations with proven implementation in the following fields: Safety/security, sustainable development, rail system technology, rail freight services. passenger services and, finally, cost reductions. “It is not uncommon to find overlap between several themes, but the applicant must choose one.”
The second category is aimed at individuals and contains two awards. One is for a person whose life has been dedicated to the railways, the Lifetime Achievement Award. The other is for young researchers. “The rail industry is aging. Our sector is not quite as ‘sexy’ as the car industry or aircraft industry. We need young blood and hopefully we can stimulate more young people to choose a career in for the rail industry.”
It is possible to sponsor the UIC Innovation Awards. For example, a rail company or university can choose to sponsor a specific award theme. The call for candidates has opened on Monday at the occasion of the World Conference on High Speed and the IRRB Plenary meeting held in conjunction in Ankara. It remains open until September. The award ceremony will take place on the 6th of December in the prestigious Automobile Club de France premises at the historic place de la Concorde Paris as part of the UIC General Assembly.