Scotland’s global rail innovation hub bid continues

Jenny Gilruth (Minister for Transport)

A SCHEME to create an international rail cluster of excellence in Scotland has been extended following the success of the first phase.

Scottish Enterprise has again appointed Scottish Engineering to continue connecting more Scottish SMEs and employers with train manufacturers, contractors, academics and research centres.

A total of 530 organisations signed up in the initial phase of the Rail Cluster Builder project, with almost half being SMEs.

A number of these businesses have since entered into the rail industry for the first time, securing the opportunity to work with organisations such as Network Rail Scotland and Progress Rail.

The project is part of efforts to make Scotland a world leader in creating net zero emissions railways.

Jenny Gilruth, Minister for Transport, said:

“I’m pleased the Rail Cluster Builder project has been extended following the success of the first phase. This rail cluster will make a significant impact to the rail industry and also Scottish businesses in the longer-term. I am delighted that the Scottish Government is providing funding of £75k for phase 2 of this project, as phase one has already demonstrated the potential to boost jobs and skills while contributing to inclusive economic growth in Scotland.”

“In 2020 the Scottish Government launched our Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan which sets out in detail how we will decarbonise Scotland’s rail services by 2035 and contribute towards our commitment to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. We have binding targets set in law to reduce emissions and meeting these targets requires ambitious actions and doing things differently.”

“Working together with partners to deliver innovative ideas and solutions will advance our path to a low carbon economy. This will not only help to deliver sustainable economic growth but also secure wider benefits to a greener, fairer and healthier Scotland.” 

The programme also became the launchpad for the First Of A Kind competition to find businesses who could come up with innovative solutions to challenges set by the likes of ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper.

And a total of 18 supply chain events were hosted by the Rail Cluster Builder throughout the first phase.

Scottish Enterprise’s Director of Innovation and Place Derek Shaw said: “The Rail Cluster Builder has been a fantastic example of how we can build on Scotland’s existing areas of expertise to make our industries fit for the future.”

“The Cluster Builder is already helping ensure Scottish companies will be ready to benefit from worldwide growth in the low carbon rail sector and this second phase will connect even more Scottish businesses with the country’s top manufacturing innovators, as well as connecting up supply chain partners.

“This means real opportunities for SMEs in Scotland, as well as contributing to our ambitions for more and better jobs and a green economic recovery. I’m really excited to see how much more will be delivered in phase two.”

Phase Two of the Rail Cluster project will continue to be delivered by Scottish Engineering and led by Shona Clive, who joined Scottish Engineering for the first phase of the project bringing over 25 years of rail sector experience and currently holds the post of Vice-Chair of Women in Rail.

Scottish Engineering Chief Executive Paul Sheerin stated: “We are excited to be given the opportunity to step up our ambition for the Rail Cluster in this new phase, renewing our focus on finding ways to connect Scotland’s Engineering SME’s to opportunity in the rail sector.”

“Our continued involvement allows us to help companies seeking to diversify their business into rail, matching their interest in sustainable business streams which will flow from the clearly defined targets for rail de-carbonisation in Scotland and the UK.”

Shona Clive added: “We have strengthened the Scottish Engineering Rail Cluster team to ensure that this new phase of the Rail Cluster is well resourced to deliver at the pace and the quality that we have set our sights on.”

“And whilst we will retain the elements that have delivered a successful cluster to date, we look forward to bringing new ideas and innovation to the way we deliver, including an outward view to the rail opportunities across the UK, Europe and beyond.”

The Rail Cluster Builder will be hosting a networking event at Progress Rail in South Queensferry on August 17. For more details and to sign up, visit Rail Cluster Builder – Scottish Engineering.

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