Small Business Research Initiative

How Beta helped secure funding and find routes to market for an innovative logistics app.

Digital transformation

Two South Yorkshire companies HiveLOGIC, a start-up, and iPort Rail, an inland port operator, identified an opportunity to introduce digitalisation into intermodal freight. They had been discussing how digital transformation could facilitate a more efficient way of operating an inland rail-freight terminal and how it could integrate with road freight movements. It would allow more road freight to be moved by rail, leading to a reduction in emissions.


The logistics industry is fragmented with little information sharing in the supply chain. iPort Rail could see the opportunities to work better and smarter, bringing rail to the fore in the movement of containers as a low carbon alternative to road for longer journeys.   

Access to funding

Building on our existing relationships with both organisations, Beta identified the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) ‘First of a Kind’ funding as a potential route to advance digital transformation, whilst at the same time supporting regional development and the low carbon agenda. Beta directed HiveLOGIC and iPort Rail to this funding source and a collaboration was formed.  


Our team played a key role in pulling together the funding application, using our expertise in public funding and bid writing to support the parties involved. We also joined the proposed project delivery team to bring expertise in commercialisation and project management. In a highly competed bidding process, the consortium was successful in securing the funding.

Routes to commercialisation

The highly innovative project went on to develop and demonstrate a proof of concept app called ‘ecoloco’. With the potential to transform the UK freight and logistics landscape through a cost-effective, 24/7 logistics platform, it is akin to the transformational apps we love today; be it ride sharing or food ordering. The project was monitored by Innovate UK on behalf of the funders, the Department for Transport. Through the course of the project, the partners demonstrated to the funders that a clear route to commercialisation was being developed, supported by Beta.  


Our experts developed a comprehensive commercialisation plan for the product, ecoloco, identifying and prioritising the key exploitable technologies behind the product. Working with HiveLOGIC, Beta created marketing material, and a demonstrator launch for industry stakeholders to raise the profile of ecoloco. The project successfully met its objectives for the public funders, and is now seeking additional funding to take the product to market. 

iPort engaged with Beta to support the SBRI bid because of their track record and deep understanding of public funding. Their expertise was invaluable in interpreting the funding for commercial gain to enable us to meet our significant growth targets for the region, focusing on the low carbon logistics agenda. 

Andy Wishart, Head of Operations, iPort Rail