Virgin Trains has selected the eight startups that will continue their journey onwards to a possible crack at gaining access to the company’s £25m innovation fund.

The PlatformX accelerator platform, which targets disruptive innovators that can help Virgin Trains transform the future of rail travel, will host eight finalists over the next five weeks at London King’s Cross station. They will work closely with Virgin StartUp and Virgin Trains to advance their business ideas.

Virgin chief, Richard Branson blogged: “At Virgin, we know that the best way to stay relevant is to embrace new ideas and technology. Platform-X is not only trying to find the best startups to work with, but is also providing a platform to help them grow and flourish.”

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This latest stage of the accelerator will conclude with another pitch event, where the young companies will compete to take their products to thousands of Virgin’s train customers, as they move closer to getting access to Virgin Train’s £25m innovation fund.

“Breaking from industry norms, entrepreneurs selected onto the programme don’t need to give up equity in their business. Instead they will work closely with Virgin Trains to fast-track the procurement process with access to a £25 million fund, if there’s a business opportunity to run a trial together. Meaning not only is this an opportunity to find, build and launch solutions to overcome innovation gaps, but also a chance to help start-ups thrive,” Richard added in his blog.