SME Collaboration


The RFM Rail Sector Deal Midlands Pilots Programme for SME Growth through Collaboration has two challenges:

Details and timeframes for both challenges can be found below.


On 21 July 2020 RFM  launched the first ‘SME Challenge’  as part of our Rail Sector Deal Midlands Pilots. This challenge is supported by Bombardier, Hitachi, Porterbrook and Siemens with other OEMs/asset managers invited to join. The challenge itself relates to the need to remove weight from passenger rail vehicles – both new and existing.

The online launch event attracted some 130 companies/individuals and was followed up by four separate events to look at specific aspects of the vehicle and provide time for SMEs to introduce themselves to each other and start to identify potential partners that they may wish to work with. These events focussed on: interiors, exteriors, traction and bogies and electrical/electronic equipment. Each event was attended by between 25 and 50 people. If you weren’t able to attend any of the events don’t worry, you can still get involved.

Below are links to several documents including slides from the sessions, delegate information and some FAQs.

The presentation slides from the on-line launch event can be found here Lightweighting Challenge_Launch 210720

The challenge was split into 4 key areas. Below are links to the presentation slides from each of the discussions:

Attendance lists for the separate events can be found here. This information includes name, company and a brief explanation of what the company does or is looking for in terms of collaboration. The information is being shared with the agreement of all involved, for individual contact information please speak to RFM.

Launch Event_SME Collaboration Lightweighting Challenge Delegate List

Interiors_SME Collaboration Lightweighting Challenge Delegate List 

Exteriors_SME Collaboration Lightweighting Challenge Delegate List

Traction&Bogies_SME Collaboration Lightweighting Challenge Delegate List

Elec&Electronic Equipment_SME Collaboration Lightweighting Challenge Delegate List

The timescales for next steps are:

Initial collaborations identified – short written submission of project

Please use this form for submissions: RSD Lightweighting Written Submission

28 August
Selection of Round 1 projects for Dragons Den 11 September
Round 1 Dragons Den w/c 28 September
Ongoing project support / light touch review (RFM) monthly
Clarifications, ‘matchmaking’ ongoing

We are planning a second round of submissions for those collaborations that can’t make the earlier timeframes


Collaborations identified – short written submission of project

Please use this form for submissions: RSD Lightweighting Written Submission

16 October
Selection of Round 2 projects for Dragons Den 30 October
Round 2 Dragons Den 18 November
Ongoing project support / light touch review (RFM) monthly
Clarifications, ‘matchmaking’ ongoing


Background Information and FAQs

We have put together a number of questions and answers together with some additional background. These can be found below

Lightweighting_FAQs August 2020.

Please contact us if you want any further information or clarifications or



On behalf of the Rail Supply Group RFM is leading the Midlands Pilots workstream as part of the Rail Sector Deal.  This workstream comprises two ‘pilots’; one of which is focussed on identifying opportunities for SMEs to collaborate to solve real ‘challenges’ and respond to opportunities provided by clients. This challenge falls into this pilot so to get involved you need to be an SME willing to work in collaboration with others!

The first challenge, launched in July 2020 relates to rolling stock lightweighting (further information here) and we are now delighted to provide some advance information for our upcoming second challenge.

This new challenge launched on 21 October, focuses on Opportunities for Decarbonising Freight. We are working with Tarmac, a major end customer for rail freight together with the University of Derby and several potential clients including freight operators, wagon companies and asset managers. These are all listed below against the various themes they have a specific interest in. (Companies in bold are leading the theme):

  • Data Management & Telematics (with interest from Tarmac, DB Cargo, ERMEWA, Freightliner, GBRF)
  • Locomotives & Wagons (with interest from ERMEWA, DB Cargo, Freightliner, GBRF, VTG)
  • Driver Management and Path Improvements (with interest from DB Cargo, Freightliner, GBRF, Network Rail)
  • Terminal Management and Improvements (with interest from VTG, ERMEWA, Freightliner, GBRF, Network Rail, Tarmac)

Our online launch event provided further details on the challenge together with the process and timeframes for SMEs to respond.  Useful information from the event can be found below. This includes a general set of FAQs about the Rail Sector Deal Midlands Pilots and two sets of slides which provide a lot of very useful detail about the opportunities that our clients have for SMEs

FAQ -SME Challenge – Decarbonisation in Freight 

SME Collaboration Decarbonising Freight Part 1

SME Collaboration Decarbonising Freight Part 2

Key Dates are:

Launch event: 21 October 2020

Responses to initial questions from SMEs: 18 November  2020

Initial ideas submissions by *: 18 December 2020

Selection of initial ideas for Dragon’s Den: 8 January 2021

Initial Dragon’s Den: w/c 18 or 25  January 2021 (exact dates to be confirmed)

* all submissions must be made using the standard template  SME Decarb Challenge Written submission

To find out more about the challenge and to get involved please contact