Frequently asked questions

Applying

Is my business right for Future Labs?

We want to help both early and later-stage companies take their business to the next level through collaboration on Future Labs. We’re interested in all potential partners that can help us, in one or more of the categories described. Your business need not be at the very beginning of its journey – if you feel that your business could benefit from working with us then we’d love to receive your application.

What’s the deadline for applying?

The deadline is the 16th June 2024 11:59pm

Is there a minimum age?

You must be at least 18 years old to enter Future Labs.

I don’t live in the UK, can I apply?

Of course! The best innovators can come from anywhere. We utilise virtual collaboration tools such as MS Teams as much as possible during programme live to reduce travel. However, please bear in mind that you may need a visa to participate in the programme and that you will be required to travel to the UK at points during the programme for Pitch Day, site visits and demo day.

Participating

Is Future Labs like other accelerators?

We believe we are different. We’ll provide your business with opportunities to:

  • Trial your product with your allocated Train Operating Company.
  • Receive mentoring from senior executives from the Train Operating Company you will work with.
  • Gain insights from subject matter experts through a top-notch education programme.
  • Travel on the networks and gain first-hand experience and insights into the Train Operating Company you will work with.

What is the process?

The programme has 4 stages:

  1. Apply
  2. Pitch
  3. Programme
  4. Demo

See our timeline for more information.

When is the Future Labs programme running?

Programme Live starts on the 16th September 2024 – 6th December, with Demo Day taking place on 5th December 2024. 

Where is the Future Labs programme held?

The programme is flexible and can be conducted virtually but physical space is offered and encouraged. The programme sponsors represent large parts of the UK rail’s network, covering London and the Southeast, all the way up to the North of England and Scotland.

Physical space will be provided for companies to co-locate with our companies in London and York (+anywhere else) providing the perfect opportunity to build relationships and communicate with key stakeholders, challenge owners and board members.

Where will the mentors come from?

Mentors will include senior executives from the four Train Operating Companies, experts within the wider rail industry, entrepreneurs, and external subject matter experts. A full list of mentors will be announced in due course.

What does the day-to-day look like on Future Labs?

The programme is designed to help you develop your solution, starting with deciding on a specific use case; receiving essential guidance from your mentors and demonstrating the value of your solution to the Train Operator Company you will work with. Each participant’s experience on the programme will be unique – we tailor the programmes to meet your business’s specific needs.

Do I need to give away equity to participate?

No, we do not ask for equity for participating in this programme. However, we may ask you to keep us notified about future funding.

Will L Marks invest in every company that joins the programme?

We will decide if we want to invest in any of the start-ups at the end of the programme.

Are you asking for exclusivity?

No, we’re not asking you to sign an exclusivity agreement during the programme, but we may ask for exclusivity in the UK or from our competitors if we move into a commercial relationship post-lab. 

We want to build a relationship based on trust and, if we like each other, we hope that you’ll see us as the first port of call when you need feedback on your new products. Please be aware that we will ask you to sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement (NDA) which you will need to adhere to, even when working with other parties. 

Will I need to disclose confidential information about my business?

If you are invited to join Future Labs, we will ask you to sign a participation agreement that includes a mutual non-disclosure agreement (NDA) – this means that we’ll keep your information confidential, and you’ll need to do the same for us. This will ensure we can work together productively on the programme. However, when you’re applying to join, neither party will be under NDA, so please only share with us information about your product or business that you consider in the public domain.

Are you offering any travel support or assistance?

Travel support to participate in programme-related activities is on a case-by-case basis. 

Do I have to relocate to participate?

No, though we do require onsite attendance for a number of key dates. We can discuss one on one the needs of your company and the partnering resources of Future Labs to see what would work best during the programme timeframe.

How many start-ups will be chosen for the lab?

We will aim to select approximately 7-10 start-ups to join the programme. Each start-up will be allocated to work with one of the four Train Operating Companies involved in the programme.  This smaller cohort and focused approach will ensure that start-ups receive additional support and guidance.

Who is L Marks? What is their role in the innovation programme?

L Marks is a leading global innovation specialist which has created over 90 programmes with its partners in Europe, Asia, and North America. Founded in 2014 with a presence in the UK and the US, L Marks has developed and delivered results-driven corporate innovation solutions, trusted by world-leading brands including BMW, Lloyd’s of London, and Sodexo. 

Through their award-winning Innovation Labs, L Marks’ partners have worked with over 400 start-ups with a successful deployment rate of over 70%. 

The L Marks New Ventures unit supports its clients to create and develop new revenue-generating businesses through its Venture Studio, and transform their corporate culture within their Intra-Lab. 

Building on its experience in innovation delivery, L Marks is expanding its advisory and capability development support through their recent acquisition of The Inovo Group, a US-based innovation consultancy with over 20 expertise in implementing scientific research and advanced analytics to guide organisations to succeed at strategic innovation.