FutureLabs is a virtual 10-week programme focused

on helping world-class innovators to test and scale their

technology with LNER.

Are you ready to pioneer the future with us?

As one of the UK’s leading providers of intercity travel, everything we do at LNER is geared towards delivering great experiences for our customers, our colleagues and our communities.


FutureLabs is where we co-create with world-class inventors to bring the future forward.

Building on the success of the first cohort, LNER FutureLabs is relaunching for 2021 and this year there’s an opportunity for everyone to be involved. 


So if you’re a startup with a solution that fits one of our challenges, you'll have unparalleled access to our data, infrastructure and expertise to help you land and scale your solution across our network.

What makes us different




20 million





Live challenges

3 - 6


icon 1@2x.png

Virtual 10-week programme

Dedicated 10-week programme with virtual delivery giving you the flexibility you need

icon 2@2x.png

Access to LNER insight

Access to relevant LNER customer, fleet and station insight to help you tailor your solution

icon 3@2x.png

Partnerships, not pilots

Our programme has been expertly designed to enable long-term partnerships at scale

icon 4@2x.png

Dedicated funding

Innovators who join the programme can apply for funding to support their proof of concept

icon 5@2x.png

Solution validation

Unparalleled access to LNER stakeholders and information to help you test and validate your solutions

icon 6@2x.png

Industry immersion

Access to our network of key industry partners to validate product assumptions and find more opportunities to scale

icon 7@2x.png

Small cohort, dedicated sponsor

With a maximum of 6 startups joining the programme, you’ll have dedicated, direct 1-1 sponsorship from senior LNER employees

icon 8@2x.png

Zero equity

We treat every partnership individually and we don’t take equity or fees to take part in the programme


What we're looking for

We’re looking for solutions around the following three strategic themes: 
Better Connections
Smarter ways of working
Revenue Opportunities

Improving the customer and colleague experience by collaborating with industry partners, such as Northern.

Finding ways to help our people to focus on their core purpose and expertise by speeding up the day to day tasks that take up time. 

Whether it’s making the most of our assets or finding new ways to create value, how can we leverage opportunities to generate revenue. 


What to expect

Over the 10-week FutureLabs programme, you will work alongside dedicated sponsors at LNER to run a joint proof-of-concept and explore opportunities to launch and scale your solution across our network. With access to live operational environments and dedicated funds to launch your pilot, this is a unique opportunity to drive the industry forward, scale your business and co-create the future of rail travel.


Weeks 1 – 3

Meet the LNER team and your cohort and map out how your solution will be tested


Weeks 4 – 6

Get hands-on with LNER data and immersed into passenger and operational environments


Weeks 7 – 10

Move into implementation mode to launch your solution and explore ways to scale 


Demo Day

Present your solution in-person to to LNER and industry leaders, investors and media 

Dates for the diary

Who should apply?

We want to help innovative companies take their business to the next level by scaling their technology across LNER. To make sure you get the most out of the programme, we do have certain requirements we expect participants to meet. Applications close on 1st May 2021.

Who should apply
  • Following a rigorous selection process, an exclusive group of 3-6 startups will have the opportunity to join FutureLabs.

  • We’re looking for startup, scale-up or inventors who bring solutions with the potential to transform LNER and the way we travel.

  • We’re open to innovations which are still in beta, right through to readily scalable technologies.

  • Our key criteria is that we’re looking for big ideas that meet our challenges and have the potential to transform the travel industry.

Your commitment
  • Attendance of a total of 10 virtual sessions is compulsory.

  • Minimum commitment of 30 hours (combination of sessions with the cohort and regular meetings with LNER sponsors).

  • Desire to establish a long-term commercial relationship with LNER (either as a customer, revenue share partner, or based on another model, once the solution has been tested and is ready to scale).

  • Virtual attendance at Demo Day on 15th September.


About LNER

We have ambitious plans to change the face of train travel. We want to create a service everybody loves, that our people are proud to work for and helps the communities that we’re part of to flourish. We have completed the introduction of our new fleet of Azuma trains, delivering more seats, more space and above all, enhanced performance.

Together, we’re driving innovation and transforming rail travel. People, places and moving forward are top of our list. We embrace the communities that we operate in, welcome change and are determined to constantly improve everyone’s travel experience. We’re on a mission to bring rail travel up to speed and journey into the future.


Join us as we pioneer the next generation of rail travel.



What is LNER?

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is a publicly owned British train operating company managed by the Department for Transport (DfT). LNER operates the InterCity East Coast franchise providing long-distance inter-city services on the East Coast Main Line from London King's Cross to North East England and Scotland. LNER manages 12 stations with trains calling at 53 stations in total. LNER.co.uk

What is FutureLabs?

A 10-week proof-of-concept programme, designed to test, launch and scale the latest technologies across LNER. FutureLabs aims to find and scale the most innovative startup technologies - to improve passenger experience and operational efficiencies and develop the next generation of rail travel.

Where is it held and what is the time commitment?

The programme will be delivered over a half day each week from 26th May to 4th August 2021. Sessions will be delivered virtually, and participants must be able to commit to attend all sessions. In addition to the formal programme, there will also be weekly check-ins with LNER programme sponsors and Co:cubed, please allow one hour per week for these meetings. Demo Day will take place virtually.

Are all the sessions mandatory?

Yes, attendance at all the weekly session (via video conference) is essential to ensure the best chance of success for your proof of concept. We strongly recommend the same representative(s) attend every session to ensure continuity.

Who will be delivering the programme sessions?

Sessions will be delivered by a combination of senior LNER representatives and collaborative innovation experts Co:cubed.

Is there any cost to be part of LNER FutureLabs?

No, there is no fee to take part in the programme, although participants will be required to cover any travel (Covid-permitting) or other costs of participating in the programme.

Will travel and expenses be covered?

The programme will be delivered virtually, with the exception of Demo day which will be held in London. Any costs that are incurred will be the responsibility of the participants and will not be covered by LNER.

How many companies will be in the cohort?

There will be between 3 to 6 companies taking part in the programme. This ensures you receive dedicated support and maximum exposure to LNER stakeholders to launch and scale your proof of concept.

Am I guaranteed a partnership with LNER?

LNER aims to launch and scale partnerships with participating companies where ever possible, dependent on the progress made on the proof of concept throughout the 10 week programme. While this is LNER’s ambition, launching a proof of concept or longer-term partnership is not guaranteed.

Who will be at Demo Day?

Demo Day will take place virtually and will be attended by senior LNER stakeholders, industry partners, selected investors and industry press.

Will I/we retain our Intellectual Property rights?

Yes, you will continue to retain all IP which is protected prior to joining LNER Future Labs. Ownership of any IP (if any) developed during the programme will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

I’m not based in the UK, can I apply?

The 10-week programme is delivered virtually and applications are welcome from any country. Participants will be expected to attend every virtual session during UK-time working hours, and attend the Demo Day in London in person.

Are applications welcome from outside the transport industry?

We welcome applications from all industries, providing they meet the selection criteria and have a tangible solution that directly answers one of our briefs.

Who is Co:cubed?

Co:cubed is a UK-based innovation agency specialising in corporate-startup collaboration and proof of concept programmes. Co:cubed has delivered multiple successful accelerator programmes, which typically result in a 90% partnership rate. LNER has partnered with Co:cubed to run the LNER FutureLabs programme. For more detail, visit www.co-cubed.com

Will I receive funding to launch the proof of concept?

LNER has ring fenced budget to cover costs of proof of concepts launched during the programme. Innovators who join the programme can apply for funding to support their proof of concept.

What are the criteria for applying?

We’re looking for startups, scaleups or inventors in digital industries who have solutions that can transform the future of travel. We’re open to innovations which are still in beta, right through to readily scalable technologies. Our key criteria is that we’re looking for big ideas that meet our challenges and have the potential to transform the travel industry.

What’s the application and selection process?

Apply here by 1st May 2021.Applications will be reviewed by an expert panel and selected applicants will be invited to pitch to LNER stakeholders. Successful applicants will be announced by 12th May.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have any questions about the LNER FutureLabs programme or your application please contact Programme Director Jessica Macias:- jessica.macias@co-cubed.com