Estudio Cactus among 9 companies set to improve the future of British freight

The government has awarded nine projects a total of £1.2 million through the Connected Places Catapult programme

News - 11/04/2023

Innovators with new ideas to make freight deliveries greener and more efficient have received financial support

Winning projects include the use of drones to make deliveries between remote Scottish islands and lightweight electrically assisted delivery vehicles to transport goods in cities. Solutions identified through the programme aim to reduce traffic and improve regional connectivity, as well as clean the air and create high skilled jobs through new ways of sending and receiving deliveries.

The winning projects are led by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who have been partnered with larger firms to explore the viability of their solutions in real-world conditions. SMEs will receive business support to help them access private investment, and get the chance to join a Freight Innovation Cluster designed to bring a community of innovators together to collaborate and generate new opportunities.

“The freight sector has an enormous opportunity to support jobs and growth across the UK which is why today we are pleased to welcome the SMEs to the first round of the Freight Innovation Fund.”

“Working with innovators and industry partners through our accelerator programme allows us to develop a pipeline of technology and new ideas that promise to help tackle the freight sector’s emerging needs, ensuring that resilience, efficiency and carbon reduction are core to the sector’s future.”

- Nicola Yates OBE, CEO, at Connected Places Catapult

“Whether it’s using drones to help better connect our vital small island communities or using technology to help reduce road emissions and traffic, we want to give innovators the opportunities to test their ideas and help our freight industry become greener and quicker.”

- Roads Minister, Richard Holden

The chosen SMEs for the Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator are:

Estudio Cactus (in cooperation with Portsmouth International Port) has been awarded £100,000 to trial its health, safety, security and environment software to provide port operators with real-time information to improve resource management.

CocoonFMS (partnered with Simarco Worldwide Logistics) has been awarded £129,000 to create a digital calculator to provide automated management of port costs and shipping expenses, helping to reduce delays and improve the planning of deliveries.

CurbCargo (partnered with Savills Property Management) has won £120,000 for a project using data to track the environmental impact of freight deliveries to prompt companies to change how they order products to reduce vehicle movements.

Electric Assisted Vehicles (partnered with FedEx Express) receives £150,000 to develop a four-wheel, electrically assisted lightweight delivery vehicle to demonstrate how many petrol and diesel vans can be removed from UK roads.

Entopy (partnered with Fujitsu Services UK) receives £145,000 to create a digital twin of shipments to track them during delivery, supporting the greater use of digital products in the freight sector.

Lightricity (partnered with Bradford Swissport) has been awarded £119,000 to take forward new technology that harnesses energy from indoor and low-level light sources to power battery-free tracking devices.

Otaski Energy Solutions and Syselek (partnered with Costain) has won £145,000 to trial a smart charge and bi-directional converter, which allows electric vehicles to charge from any power grid source and discharge energy back to the grid or storage.

RoboK (partnered with the Port of Tyne) has won £133,000 to trial an AI system that generates insights from existing video data, such as CCTV, to provide analysis on capacity and asset movement in real time to reduce delays and inefficiencies.

Skyports Deliveries (partnered with Royal Mail and Loganair) receives £150,000 to create an intermodal transport hub through the Orkney I-Port project to improve island-to-island connectivity using drones to make deliveries, conduct surveys and monitoring.


This is cohort one of a series of Freight Innovation Fund Accelerators, with the second opening for applications later this year.

The Freight Innovation Fund aims to help accelerate the adoption of existing freight technologies within the freight sector and develop a future pipeline in line with the freight industry’s real-world needs. It is a three year, £7 million programme designed to make delivering freight across the UK more efficient and cleaner and was announced within the Future of Freight plan published last year.

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