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Union Pacific Railroad has partnered with startup accelerator Plug and Play to help drive freight transportation innovations, the Class I announced yesterday.As an accelerator, Plug and Play helps existing startup companies grow with a combination of seed money, mentoring and connections to large companies. UP will serve as an "anchor partner" in Plug and Play's Supply Chain Innovation Platform.The partnership means railroad officials will participate in pitches from startups and vote on those they believe will deliver the most positive benefits, according to a UP press release.Winning startup firms then will collaborate with UP on those projects."Our transportation solutions help our customers compete in the global marketplace," said UP Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Beth Whited, who will speak at Progressive Railroading's RailTrends 2017 conference today. "One of the main reasons Union Pacific continues to thrive after 155 years in business is because we are at the leading edge of innovation. Partnering with Plug and Play will help us remain at that forefront."At its fall summit, Plug and Play presented the Class I with a corporate innovation award for being an "engaged partner adding collaborative value to the Plug and Play ecosystem," UP officials said.UP and Plug and Play plan to soon select a second group of startups for the Supply chain Innovation Program.