Alex Burrows, Director of Enterprise and Innovation, outlines the move of Rail Alliance into the Rail Business Daily community.
Yesterday (Tuesday 14 December), we made the announcement to the Rail Alliance Community’s membership at the Rail Alliance Christmas event and AGM, and then to the wider industry and stakeholders, that the University of Birmingham is entering into a collaboration with Rail Business Daily (RBD) to merge the Rail Alliance Community into the RBD Community. As a result, the existing membership of Rail Alliance (of 830 organisations) will become members of the RBD Community and the Rail Alliance will cease to exist.
The RBD acquisition of Rail Alliance will create an enlarged industry community that will continue to provide a wide range of services and benefits to members of the Community across enterprise support, innovation, business guidance and advice, networking, and events. Additionally, the RBD Community will help with financing, pipeline and introductions, market positioning, profile enhancement and recruitment services, offering members a broad range of benefits that can provide direct support to rail supply industry businesses.
We are confident that all members of this Community will have access to every professional service they need all in one place. This is the right decision to ensure that rail supply industry organisations (particularly SMEs) can get access to as large a range of services and benefits as possible for the best possible price. We are confident that RBD is perfectly placed to deliver that.
Furthermore, our Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) team will remain fully engaged with the RBD Community as partners in this endeavour, under the auspices of our collaboration agreement. We will provide leadership in R&D, technology, innovation, and education & skills, and will host 4 events a year for the RBD Community as part of this collaboration. In addition, the RBD Community team will co-locate with us at our fantastic new UKRRIN Building at the UOB campus.
In our capacity as BCRRE, we will continue to deliver the SME programmes (DIGI-RAIL in the West Midlands and Sheffield City Regions, Innovate 4 Rail in Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire, STARS, S-ACCESS) and seek to win and deliver further programmes. We will also retain the membership of the European Rail Clusters Initiative (ERCI).
We are delighted to hand the baton over to RBD and would like to thank our members for their proactive engagement since we ourselves took over the Rail Alliance at the start of 2019. We have steered the Rail Alliance and its community through a challenging three years, introducing a freemium model to enable us to provide as much support as possible to the industry through the pandemic, and growing the membership from around 350 members to 830. We have run a huge number of successful events and demonstrated our agility in rapidly switching to online support and engagement at the outset of the pandemic in 2020. We have also further embedded the link between R&D/innovation capability and expertise at the University of Birmingham and the wider rail industry.
In a tumultuous 3 years we have delivered impact and benefit with the sole aim of developing and supporting the rail supply industry. And we will continue to do so. The Rail Alliance has always been at the heart of the rail supply chain and I am confident that our BCRRE team, in collaboration with RBD, will bolster this presence further in 2022 and beyond.