Rail Forum Midlands Joins with Leading Industry Associations to promote cross-sector collaboration

Accelerate Cross-sector Collaborative Ecosystems and Sustainable Supply-chains (ACCESS)

The ACCESS Project brings together leading regional industry associations from different
sectors including West England Aerospace Forum (WEAF), North East Automotive Alliance
(NEAA) and Rail Forum Midlands (RFM) to promote cross-sector collaboration and sustainable
supply chains. The project will create a digital business networking platform developed by
Valuechain to facilitate intercompany communication and collaboration.

This nine month project aims to promote cross-sector collaboration to minimise risks of supply
chain impact from the pandemic by helping companies expand into new sectors; facilitate
onshoring by simplifying the process to identify suppliers; and accelerate sustainable transport
initiatives by encouraging open exchange of future technology, skills, capacity and innovation

Elaine Clark, CEO for RFM explained “The rail supply chain continues to experience significant
peaks and troughs in workload and whilst the industry is committed to creating smoother
pipelines we need to do all we can to ensure suppliers don’t have all their eggs in one basket
and can tap into wider markets both in the UK and overseas. We also need to move faster in
the development and deployment of new technologies to ensure that rail can take a leading
role in the decarbonisation agenda for the UK; working with other sectors has the potential to
accelerate technology development, help companies make better, more informed
investment decisions and achieve cost effective production volumes faster.”

The ACCESS project is funded by Innovate UK, who as part of UK Research and Innovation, is
investing up to £191 million to fund single and collaborative research and development
projects as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund over the next two years. The aim of these
competitions is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund is funding 1,103 projects, 1,069 UK businesses and totalling
over £130 million in support across the UK.

Innovate UK Executive Chair Dr Ian Campbell said: “In these difficult times we have seen the
best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that
impacts society and the economy.”

“The ACCESS Project, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund,
is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also
helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.”

Collaboration is at the centre of this project, bringing together organisations from different
regions and industries. And the steering group will be actively seeking collaborations with
additional industry bodies to provide more companies across the UK with access to greater

The project builds on Valuechain’s iQluster platform, which was recently used by the Made
Smarter’s North West Pilot to map companies and their capabilities in the region. iQluster will
be deployed to:

• Automate B2B matchmaking using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to suggest new customers,
suppliers or innovation partners based on interests and company profiles.
• Provide a many-to-many tendering platform to optimise sourcing and supplier
selection decisions.
• Illuminate multi-tier supply-chain risk, with mitigation scenario planning and action
management dashboards.
• Integrate Fitfactory productivity appstore providing access to free smart
manufacturing apps to incentivise and accelerate adoption


For further information contact
Elaine Clark – elaineclark@midlandsrail.co.uk

About Rail Forum Midlands (RFM)
Rail Forum Midlands (RFM) is the only regionally focussed rail trade organisation in the UK.
Supporting the nationally and internationally important rail supply chain cluster across the
Midlands RFM has over 220 members providing products and services across all aspects of the
industry. RFM actively supports the national rail agenda and strategy, encouraging
collaboration, promoting members’ capabilities, leading a number of regional skills initiatives
and supporting innovation and export priorities. RFM is owned and governed by its members
with a Board drawn from member companies. www.midlandsrail.co.uk

About Valuechain
Valuechain enables manufacturing companies to compete as world class supply chains. We
provide smart manufacturing software that helps organisations to improve
productivity, streamline collaborations and generate intelligence. Our award-winning
leadership team combine decades of manufacturing industry knowledge with academic
best practices to ensure your organisation is at the forefront of Industry 4.0 technologies using
intuitive and cost effective solutions tailored to your requirements.


West England Aerospace Forum
The West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF) is a membership trade organisation that is
passionate about all aspects of aerospace, defence, space and advanced engineering.
Our member and partner base represent a very wide spectrum – from SMEs to global

We aim to deliver opportunities and develop networks between collaborative businesses
within the South West’s Advanced Engineering Cluster.


About North East Automotive Alliance
Established in 2015 the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) is a not-for-profit, industry-led
cluster group supporting the sustainable economic growth and competitiveness of the North
East automotive sector.

Today, with over 270 member companies, it is the largest automotive cluster in the UK.
Members range from world renowned OEMs, to 31 Tier 1 companies, through to innovative
SMEs and sole traders, as well as professional associate members. The NEAA provides an
unparalleled, collaborative network, where companies find benefit from leadership and coordination of activities of mutual benefit.


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