Innovations sought to help National Highways on road to net zero

Applications to a National Highways competition seeking new approaches to reducing emissions associated with road construction and maintenance are now open.

Funding to develop innovative trials of net zero carbon approaches to road construction and maintenance will be offered to up to ten small to medium sized businesses in a competition launched today by National Highways and Connected Places Catapult.

Phase one of the National Highways Accelerating Low Carbon Innovation Programme will see winning UK based firms awarded between £15,000 and £30,000 each to develop feasibility studies in collaboration with the strategic road operator and its tier one suppliers.

Phase two will see further funding of up to £80,000 provided to support a selected number of organisations to trial their solutions.

Applicants are invited to put forward proposals that address at least one of three challenges:

  • Development or application of alternative materials and techniques;
  • Innovations that can improve asset management decision-making;
  • Innovations which can contribute to reusing, redeploying and recycling construction materials and assets.

There is also an open challenge category for other ideas that can contribute to National Highways’ target of zero emissions in maintenance and construction by 2040.

Up to five larger tier one organisations will also be selected to develop net zero solutions either on their own or in collaboration with an SME, but will not be eligible for funding as part of the programme.

Firms interested in putting themselves forward for the competition have until midnight on 30 April to enter.

The aim of the competition is to reach a wider pool of innovators, exploring firms with potential outside of National Highways’ existing supply chain, that promise to make a difference in lowering its carbon footprint.

“National Highways’ Accelerating Low Carbon Innovation Programme is open to companies of all sizes – from tier one firms developing solutions in-house or collaborating with SMEs, to smaller businesses who do not always get the chance to interface with large clients – to showcase their innovative ideas and see how they can be scaled up.”
Connected Places Catapult’s Executive Director for SME Development & Academic Engagement, Alex Weedon

The innovation accelerator seeks to take new materials and solutions described as being ‘low maturity’ and put them through a consistent, standardised process of prioritisation, feasibility and initial trialling, with the aim of assessing viability for wider testing and adoption.

Successful firms will be offered coaching and help with marketing strategy and investment support, as well as trial design training, deployment support, trial monitoring and evaluation. There will also be the chance to take part in a demonstration day for investors, industry and potential customers and ten months’ tailored business support.

“We want to speed up innovation within our sector and adopt new solutions. The innovation accelerator will help take potential solutions and drive them through the research and testing phases.”
National Highways Roads Development Director, Dr Joanna White