Info on the C4DTI Needs Accelerator

4DTI’s mission is to support the consistent adoption and implementation of interoperable laws, rules, standards frameworks and technology solutions. The Centre’s role in the Needs Accelerator is pivotal – it has the ability to convene the right industry stakeholders, and ensure challenges and pilots consider relevant standards and policy.

The Needs Accelerator offers a structure for organisations in trade to harness external collaboration to solve mission-critical challenges.

C4DTI will bring together stakeholders from across trade to discuss challenge areas. These challenge areas will be researched to prioritise a mission-critical opportunity to trial and implement new technology. The Needs Accelerator designs suitable pilots to test these emerging technologies, ensuring their success and their interoperability across the trade industry.

What challenges does the industry face?
The C4DTI understands that digitalisation is changing what and how we trade, and is raising complex new issues for trade rules, as well as the technology and infrastructure which enables it.

New efforts in digital trade are needed to translate updates to policies which are happening globally into practical solutions which can be adopted by organisations across the international trading industry.1

There is an opportunity to create a clear structure to support innovation in trade in the UK to enable developing solutions at scale, connecting systems and processes together.

The UK government has an ambition for a frictionless border, which means improving current document-heavy, legacy systems and infrastructure, which requires cross-border interoperability.

Trade in the UK needs a neutral mechanism to deliver innovation, with a stimulus for corporates and government to work collaboratively on projects which benefit the industry as a whole.

Example Challenge – 

Bridging the Trade Finance Gap

There is a significant gap of $1.7 Trn2 in providing trade finance to SME traders to prove the value of their trade. Digitisation represents an opportunity to pair banks with SMEs to provide trusted data. A bank or banks can shape the way in which the data is used and presented. A 12-week needs accelerator sprint can bring together the correct stakeholders, researching, interviewing and workshopping implementation plans for the group to trial.

A Needs Accelerator can solve these challenges through collaboration

C4DTI has a unique window into challenges faced in trade, and can interface between the market and policy makers.

Our methodology allows us to take focus areas and hone in on suitable problem statements to solve trade’s biggest problems through the adoption of technology.

Our 12-week process can bring benefits to private sector organisations and government.

How collaborating can benefit your organisation


Build long-term mutually beneficial partnerships with organisations that have access to an innovation ecosystem.

Tap into valuable R&D investment in return for access to data, experts and the opportunity to test new solutions across the port network.

Implementing UK policy through real-world testing.

Branding as a “Testbed” port for new technology and innovation in international trade.

C4DTI can link ports to the activity being undertaken by corporates, ensuring that parties work collaboratively on challenges.


Access emerging technologies in relevant and adjacent sectors and understand their applications.

Co-create solutions with partners to solve the toughest challenges and be able to scale them sustainably.

Collaborating through a Needs Accelerator could lead to the co commercialisation of successful products in UK and overseas markets to bring in new revenue streams

C4DTI can help to ensure solutions are in line with market and international standards which can make data accessible, accurate and secure for international trading.

To learn more about the C4DTI Needs Accelerator, get in touch with us at: 

1 Source: Challenges and opportunities in trade, OECD, 2018 2. Source: Global Trade Finance Gap Widened to $1.7 Trillion in 2020, Asian Development Bank Study of 2021, October 2021