UK trials hydrogen train in step forward for transport innovation

University of Birmingham | Porterbrook

Trials of a hydrogen-powered train are underway in the U.K. with an initial journey successfully completed between the locations of Long Marston and Evesham in the West Midlands region of England.

The HydroFLEX train — which has been developed by a team from the University of Birmingham and Porterbrook, a rolling stock firm — uses a fuel-cell which combines hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, heat and water.

The train has been fitted with a range of kit inside one of its carriages. This tech includes a hydrogen fuel tank, the aforementioned fuel-cell and lithium ion batteries for storage. It’s hoped that the technology will be available to retrofit trains already in use by the year 2023.

A statement issued Wednesday, published on the website of both the University of Birmingham and U.K. government, said the university was also, “developing a hydrogen and battery powered module that can be fitted underneath the train.” The idea behind this modification is that it will create more room in the carriage to host passengers.

In its own announcement, Porterbrook described the train being used in the trials as a “demonstrator unit.” Citing customer demand, the firm also said it planned to put the HydroFLEX into production. This version of the train, it added, would “be configured for operation using both overhead-electric-wires and hydrogen for non-electrified routes.”

The trials have been backed by a grant of £750,000 (around $962,362) from the U.K.’s Department of Transport, while over £1 million has already been invested in the project by the University of Birmingham and Porterbrook.

Wednesday’s news comes at the end of a month that’s seen several interesting developments in the arena of hydrogen-powered transport.

Last week, in airspace over England, a hydrogen fuel-cell plane capable of carrying passengers completed its

Strigo raises $8 million to help software companies train their customers remotely

Strigo, a platform that helps companies deliver software training to their clients remotely, has raised $8 million in a series A round of funding led by Greycroft and Velvet Sea Ventures. The Israeli startup also said that it had tripled its customer base throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

The global pandemic has been a boon for online communication tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as companies have been forced to embrace remote working. Moreover, these platforms found a whole new lease of life in situations for which they were never even intended, such as dating and virtual social gatherings with friends. But a “one-size fits all” ethos is often not a good thing in the technology realm, as certain situations require dedicated tools for the job in hand.

Founded in 2017, Tel Aviv-based Strigo has built a platform that enables software companies to onboard and train customers in how to use the software. Traditionally, this is something that companies often did in person — they would send out specialists to give the training, which is a time-consuming, resource-intensive endeavor. And in a socially-distanced world, this approach is either impossible or fraught with friction. And that is what Strigo effectively tries to solve, with a unified platform that allows trainers to communicate, share content, and collaborate in real scenarios involving the software.

“It’s really about providing hands-on training in which customers learn by practicing within actual product environments,” Nevo Peretz, CEO and cofounder of Strigo, told VentureBeat.

Above: Strigo training cloud: One-on-one with attendee panel and dashboard

Strigo can also be used for in-person software training sessions at customers’ own premises, as the platform is designed to work without relying on local IT teams to facilitate sessions or book dedicated lab spaces. Employees can just turn up to a standard meeting

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