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Innovation

National Highways launches UK innovation competition to ease work zone impacts

A new innovation competition is being launched by England’s National Highways that aims to take some of the sting out of roadworks for drivers, local businesses and communities.

Any organization with new ideas that can make the experience of roadworks an easier one is invited to compete for funding and the opportunity to test their innovations on the road network.

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Working in collaboration with Connected Places Catapult, the competition aims to identify new technology, products or services that can make a positive difference to people’s experience of roadworks whether they are driving through the roadworks or living nearby.

Nicola Bell

“We know that roadworks remain a common cause of irritation for many people. Not only do they impact on the driving public themselves, but they also have a knock-on effect on the surrounding communities and local businesses,” says National Highways executive director of major projects, Nicola Bell. “Roadworks are essential as we invest billions of pounds ensuring our roads are managed, developed and maintained, but that work can impact on day-to-day lives and the local economy.

“Through this competition we hope to find solutions that we haven’t yet trialled, tested or even thought of ourselves that will make a difference for road users, communities and businesses impacted by works. The brief is deliberately wide because we want people to come to us with a whole range of ideas.”

The competition launches on Monday (September 5) and will allow smaller enterprises, which haven’t traditionally had the opportunity to work directly with National Highways, to showcase their ideas and win the chance to take it out on the road network.

Competition winners will receive:

  • Up to £15,000 funding to explore the feasibility of using their new or existing technology, product or idea on National Highways’ roads
  • Technical and commercial support from experts at Connected Places Catapult to help develop and scale up their innovation
  • Support and guidance from National Highways’ technical experts and their delivery partners

Entrants are invited to put forward their ideas and up to 10 innovative solutions will be selected to test the feasibility of their products. The best ideas will then be taken forward and the winners will have the opportunity to apply for further funding to trial their innovation on National Highways’ roads.

The ideas that are most successful in the trials will be taken forward with National Highways and their supply chain working towards full commercialisation.

Organisations thinking of entering the competition can join a webinar on September 19. National Highways and Connected Places Catapult will offer application support and guidance and there will be opportunity to ask questions.

Closing date for the competition is October 9 and the winners will be announced in January 2023.

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