The Innovation Challenge at Coach and Bus UK: Winners revealed

Graham Vidler, Chief Executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), headed up a panel of experienced judges from across the industry to determine which of the 11 finalists from 19 entrants to the Innovation Challenge at Coach and Bus UK 2019 were deserving of the gold and silver awards.

Also part of the Innovation Challenge judging panel were Philip Hitchen, Managing Director (MD) of Belle Vue Manchester; Chloe Leach O’Connell, MD of the Leach-O’Connell Consultancy; Jon Eardley, Engineering Director UK Bus at Abellio Group; and Tom Morgan, Service Delivery Director at Trentbarton.

The 11 finalists were given just 90 seconds to pitch their innovations to the panel and hold their attention as to why their product should be the one operators buy.

In a magnanimous move, no bronze medals were awarded, as it was felt all of the runners-up deserved silver in recognition of their efforts.

“We had some fantastic innovations and technology on display,” says Mr Eardley. “The discussion between the judges was really insightful and I’ve already spoken to some of the others since to continue the knowledge sharing.”

The silver winners included:

  • 21st Century – for Journeo Transit, which gives insights into technology installed into operators’ vehicles
  • Affinity – for School Bus Tracker, which helps parents locate their child aboard the bus at any time
  • Alliance Transport Technologies – for the E400HX battery pack, an aftermarket solution to existing hybrid systems
  • Firetrace – for its automatic electric vehicle fire suppression kit
  • INIT – for introducing eMOBILE, which assists in management processes for electric buses
  • INSO – for Printed Flooring, a digital solution to on-board signposting
  • Phoenix Seating – for All Buckled Up, a wireless seat belt alert system
  • Premier Pits – for BrakeMate, a service platform for brake disc maintenance.
  • UrbanThings – for Ticketless, an app which turns passenger smartphones into the ticket validator.

But it was John Clarfelt, CEO and Co-founder of Ticketer, and Patrick Tandy, MD of Freeway Fleet Systems, who accepted the gold awards.

Ticketer’s multi-operator app Kazoot enables the industry to work together in direct competition against other forms of transport, and Freeway’s ‘Fleet in Your Pocket’ app provides smartphone control of fleet management. Each innovation makes the industry more competitive on the road, and more efficient in the workshop, respectively.

“It’s now much easier to communicate this within the industry, and it’s testament to the team that’s behind the product – and the quality and the effort that’s gone into making it possible,” says Mr Tandy. “All the ideas come from our customers, and we have the privilege of being able to take their ideas and put them into action.”

Response to the challenge has been overwhelmingly positive, both from entrants and the judges.