GoAscendal Labs

Transformative mobility is a top-of-mind issue for Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) across the UK. With the mandate set by The National Bus Strategy, LTAs have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the bus market in England as part of the ‘Bus Service Improvement Plans’, to help combat the post-COVID shift towards private transport and divert users ‘back to bus’.

The move towards cleaner energy sources is also of increasing urgency for the transport sector, which is determined to now globally be the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The recent COP26 event in Glasgow underscores just how imperative it is for all countries to switch to renewable sources, but for the UK to successfully achieve low carbon emissions targets, the government and private sector must pull together to support the roll out of a more sustainable mobility framework.

Implementing sustainable transport solutions in innovative ways is at the core of what we do. We want to help ensure all communities have access to excellent public transport, and are not left behind through a lack of access and opportunity..

We are now launching GoAscendal Labs; a launchpad platform to test, iterate and validate new technology transport solutions at an operational bus depot, co-located at our headquarters alongside our partner, Whippet Coaches Limited, in Cambridgeshire (Whippet).

Sponsored by Ascendal Accelerator Limited, a joint-venture between Ascendal Group and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA), the programme offers three organisations a unique incubation and acceleration opportunity over the course of 10 weeks.

Building resilience through technology

GoAscendal Labs is the only launchpad transport programme on a working bus depot where you can trial your product in real-time, on an operational fleet.

Commencing in January 2022, participants will benefit from Whippet’s fleet by implementing their product directly on the buses themselves. Beyond the initial project phase, GoAscendal’s global commercial network means the channels to distribute a product internationally are broad; we can support participants by making introductions alongside coaching on regional transport nuances, to help get a product or service to market in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

Our goal is to work with startups and SMEs to improve operations and the customer experience across the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough transport network, serving more than 850,000 local residents. We believe that together, we can go beyond the immediate function of providing reliable services but contribute toward a broader tech-led infrastructure that facilitates access to, and investment in, the local community.

Are you a startup or SME looking to validate your mobility technology product or service?

Is your organisation developing novel tech products or services that have the potential to transform the bus industry in the UK (or even globally!)?

If so — and your team can join us at our Cambridgeshire-based lab environment — we’d love to hear from you!

+ Why apply?

The world is changing, and so is the way we move. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on how we live and work; as a result our commuting patterns and the way we use both public and private transport modes and infrastructure must now evolve to meet these shifting needs.

The UK’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has sweeping implications for national transport initiatives. Emissions and decarbonization targets are tied to the ever-increasing urgency for more carbon neutrality from our vehicles. We are now faced with a growing motivation for greener and more sustainable transport that can both fulfil mobility requirements and support economic growth.

The Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) mandate issued to local authorities seeks innovative solutions, including the use of technology to improve bus operations and customer experience, alongside better integration of the bus network with other modes.

Whatever your solution — if it is designed to improve the transport industry, facilitate better operations, provide a greener service or enhance the customer experience – now is a great time to explore bringing it to market.

What does the programme cover?

+ Coaching

Business development

  • Coaching and mentoring to advance business goals
  • Insights on international market distribution licensing
  • Access to distribution network after programme


  • Direct marketing to GoAscendal and CPCA networks
  • Launch/ demo events and digital campaign promotion

Public Transport Operations

  • Access to fleet and bus equipment
  • Experienced operational support
  • A pilot customer with open feedback loop and focus group opportunities

In-house Technology

  • Access to test beds and Big Data library
  • Insights and expertise from Development team


  • Insights on fundraising, R&D tax credits and export credits

+ Advisory board

Our Advisory Board are specially selected technology and transport specialists who can help shape the strategic direction of the programme. The support of these industry innovators helps deliver value for our participants and the broader beneficiaries of private operators in the transport sector.

Giles K Bailey
Managing Director, Stratageeb

Giles has 25 years’ experience in the global mobility sector, gained at Transport for London
(TfL) and as a consultant for North American and European markets. Giles has an academic
background in Civil Engineering and a master’s in engineering: Transportation, as well as a
diploma in Marketing and has worked in areas such as transport planning, appraisal,
economics, business planning, marketing, ticketing strategy, database development, transport modelling, tourism strategy and new initiative development.
He is now Director at Stratageeb, his own firm offering strategic thinking in business capabilities; he also lectures at universities, speaks at conferences and writes for the UK and international transport press.

Dan Clarke
Strategy and Partnership Manager, Connecting Cambridgeshire

Dan has worked on emerging technology and data solutions that help support the Greater
Cambridge Partnership and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. He has collaborated with the University to build data platforms and tools that support sustainable travel as well as the building of two early-stage digital twin projects. The data work has included using the latest sensing technology that utilises vision and machine learning and is now being used on a Smart Signals trial.
Dan worked on the UK’s first trial of a purpose-built autonomous bus to run in mixed traffic, in Cambridge as well as being on the advisory boards for both the CAPRI and Flourish autonomous vehicle projects.

Clayton Lane
Chief Partnerships & Strategy Officer, GoAscendal

GoAscendal’s CPSO, Clayton has 23 years of experience as an international mobility specialist and transport planner. He led the world’s top mobility think tanks at ITDP (as CEO) and EMBARQ (as Acting Director & COO), founded PhillyCarShare, and co-founded WRI Sustainable Cities before joining GoAscendal. Based in New York, he is a recognized global leader on BRT, rail alternatives’ analyses, as well as long-range plans in a dozen US regions.
Clayton is deeply committed to equitable transport development for all, especially the most vulnerable groups across the world’s growing emerging markets

Iain Macbeth
Director of Electric Vehicle Strategy, Partnerships & Innovation (Europe), Enterprise Holdings

In his role at Enterprise, the largest global vehicle rental business with a fleet of over 2 million vehicles, Iain is responsible for rental adoption of electric and hydrogen vehicles as well as other new technologies across Enterprise’s key corporate markets. Iain is also involved in broader mobility and sustainability projects for Enterprise, drawing on his previous experience as Head of Foresight within the Innovation Directorate at Transport for London (TfL). While there, Iain led many initiatives where transport solutions intersect with emerging urban challenges – such as air quality, road safety, population growth, economic and social issues, urban realm, climate change and energy.

Lucy Yu
CEO at Octopus Energy’s Centre for Net Zero; Non Executive Director at Connected Places Catapult; and Senior Advisor, Voi Technology

Lucy has nearly 20 years’ experience building tech ventures and developing tech policy and
regulation for governments around the world, with a focus on sustainability and renewable
energy; future mobility and the built environment; artificial intelligence; open data and open source; regulating high risk technologies; and the social impact of disruptive technology. She has led operations, commercial, policy and research functions for several high-growth, globally renowned tech start-ups including two unicorns. Lucy has been named a Financial Times Top 100 Most Influential BAME Leader in tech (2019) and one of Diversity UK’s Top 5 Leaders in GreenTech (2021) and has written extensively for the tech press and peer-reviewed journals, as well as speaking widely for Wired and SLUSH.

Anything else I need to know?

  1. Organisations must be able to have their teams or representatives join us in our Cambridgeshire headquarters for the duration of the programme.
  2. You’ll need a working technology solution which improves the bus industry in one of two areas – operations or customer experience (or both!). We would expect your offering to have a Technology Readiness Level of 5-8, and either on or off-bus solutions. Otherwise, there’s no limit to the scope of your product!
  3. Organisations must have full ownership of the product, or permissions/licenses to use components as part of the finished product.
  4. Evidence of financial support through the period of participation in GoAscendal Labs.

Start the journey!

We are particularly interested to hear from developers of products which support the ambitions of GoAscendal — a safer, more accessible and sustainable transport system for all.

Apply today! Just complete this short registration form to tell us more about your product and get the wheels in motion.
The deadline for applications is 11.59pm, 12th December 2021.

We have a number of sponsorship opportunities and packages for consultants, operators and other organisations. Or, maybe you have a challenge that needs solving? We can run an accelerator programme on your behalf, dedicated to the needs of your or your clients’ business through our established operational accelerator environment. Whether you’re a global company or a local business in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, we’d love to chat with you and have you join us on the journey.


GoAscendal, trading name for flx Mobility (UK) Limited, hereby representing the joint-venture between Ascendal Group Limited and GoMetro UK Limited, provides strategic mobility technology and operations advisory to cities and clients worldwide. Our mission is to deliver safe, efficient, and reliable transport systems in a sustainable way, and we are working in three continents supporting authorities on their transition from diesel to zero-emission buses and electric vehicles. We have worked in more than 60 cities and 33 countries, with a focus on ensuring all communities in the regions we serve benefit from excellent public transit networks and are not left behind when it comes to access and opportunities.

Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority Business Board
The Business Board works with businesses, education, and local authority partners to drive economic growth, secure inward investment and protect and create jobs across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The Board is the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for our region and is made up of local business leaders and elected local leaders who are passionate about supporting businesses.
Not only does the Business Board ensure that businesses across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are given a voice and the opportunity to influence and advise the Mayoral Combined Authority it is also responsible for determining local economic priorities.

Ascendal Group
Ascendal Group aims to implement world-class solutions to deliver step changes in how public transportation is perceived, accepted, and delivered. Ascendal Group supports cities in unlocking their potential through focused mobility; revolutionary urban design and real estate; game-changing technology; new and innovative financing structures and results-driven strategic advisory. Ascendal Group’s transport operations move over one million passengers a day in Asia, Europe, and South America, with a combined fleet of 2,000 buses. Ascendal Group is particularly proud to serve as the operating partner of Hong Kong’s second-largest bus operation, where proportionally more journeys are made by public transport (90%) than any other city globally.

Improving the lives of millions of people across the globe by getting them to their destination predictably, safely and consciously. The future of mobility is at the intersection of big data analysis, smart planning and great user experience. GoMetro’s end-to-end public transport technology and planning solutions help governments, transport authorities, county councils, transport operators and transport consultants. Our mission is to improve the way people move through our Mobility Management Super Platform that includes world-class technology solutions, a team of passionate industry experts and clients who understand the importance of sustainable and profitable mobility.

Whippet was formed in 1919 making it one of the longest operating bus businesses in the UK. We have provided bus services to the local community for more than 100 years, allowing people to travel across the county at ease. We also provide coaches on behalf of Flixbus, taking our vehicles to Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, and London, providing essential links across the country. We pride ourselves on our family feel and our friendly drivers.