Unicard News
Unicard secures Innovate UK funding to develop Smart Ticketing Broker
Innovation Agency’s Smart Grant to support seamless bus travel for an estimated 1.5 million passengers daily
July 26th 2022 by Unicard

Wimborne, Dorset, UK – 26 July 2022: Unicard, the UK’s preferred provider of smart ticketing and payment solutions to both public and commercial transport sectors, has been awarded funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, for the second time. The £280,000 grant will support the development of the UK’s first Smart Ticketing Broker for public transport, enabling seamless travel and payments, at the best price, for an estimated 1.5 million UK bus passengers daily.

Unicard’s Smart Ticketing Broker will link up multiple systems run by competing bus operators and will enable Local Authorities and Regional Transport Authorities (LARTAs) to help manage their travel schemes, whilst improving the ease and convenience for travelling passengers. The Smart Grant funding is only awarded to companies that can demonstrate ‘game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy’, further validating Unicard’s approach to R&D; only approximately one in twenty businesses who apply for this funding are successful.  

The Smart Ticketing Broker solution can link customer records and journey histories without the need to centralise the data. This enables competing operators to securely process payments for their own and each other’s services. It also aggregates existing multi-operator fare caps into a single ‘post-pay’ ticket - billing passengers on a weekly basis - removing the need to pre-purchase a ticket before boarding.

It will also enable the creation of new, more affordable, multi-operator ticketing products and schemes aligned with Bus Service Improvement Plans. It also gives passengers the flexibility to use different forms of ticketing, such as smartcards, barcodes, and ‘tapping on’ to buses with bank cards. The Smart Ticketing Broker can bring the benefits of seamless, multi-operator travel that exists in London, to the rest of the UK, without the level of control and investment that Transport for London requires.

Sean Dickinson, CEO of Unicard, says “Across the UK, a lack of integration between bus companies means passengers currently have to contend with disjointed, inefficient, and needlessly expensive bus journeys. The Government has requested that Local Authorities solve this problem through the use of technology.

“Unicard is well placed to deliver on this. One in four passengers in the UK currently use a Unicard system. We’ve already built many of the necessary foundational technologies, we’re well regarded within the ticketing industry, and we have strong working relationships with over 60 percent of the UK’s LARTAs, several transport operators, Future Transport Zones and ticketing solution providers.

“Not only will the solution provide an easier, cheaper, and more consistent travel experience for millions of bus passengers, but it will also generate significant second-order benefits to society, estimated by the DfT at £4.20 for every £1 spent.”

The Innovate UK Smart Grant is the UK government’s flagship grant programme, awarding £125 million to British businesses every year. Grants are available for tech-based projects that offer ‘commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas’. This is the second grant that Unicard has received from Innovate UK. In April 2022, it was awarded funding to develop its Smart Mobility open transport data collection and visualisation platform.

Part of UK Research and Innovation, Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. It connects business to the partners, customers, and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth.