Winners of National Highways competition to tackle graffiti announced

Wall coatings, acoustic sensors and laser technology are among the innovative solutions which will make it possible to prevent and remove graffiti from the England’s strategic road network in the future. 

In association with National Highways, formerly known as Highways England, Connected Places Catapult is proud to announce the winners of the National Highways Graffiti Competition. This funding programme will advance innovative products and services that have the potential to make significant improvements to the national road network.  

Delivered by Connected Places Catapult, Innovation Funding Programmes are tailored initiatives designed to help innovators test new technologies and solutions that solve real-world sectoral challenges alongside industry leading partners. Innovation Funding Programmes also provide commercial support to ensure that new products are designed according to the needs of the markets they intend to serve.  

More than a dozen organisations submitted their concepts and ideas for testing new products and we are delighted to be announcing our winners. These winning companies will each receive up to £30,000 to fund critical R&D and feasibility work that will develop their technologies. 

National Highways Head of Innovation, Annette Pass, said:  

“We are very excited about taking forward these fascinating, innovative solutions that could help us tackle the relentless problem of graffiti that takes up time and money which would be better spent elsewhere on our network. 

“The standard of entries was very high and difficult decisions had to be made to whittle them down to a final five. But we are confident that as we develop these ideas further we will be able to identify modern solutions to this age-old problem.” 

Connected Places Catapult Technical Director, Paul Bate, said:  

“Connected Places Catapult are here to help UK companies with great new innovations and get them into the market.  We’ve been really pleased at the quality of the applications and range of different technologies that these companies have brought to this competition.  We’re looking forward to seeing the outcome of all the feasibility studies and seeing which ones have the most promise for future use on National Highways’ network.” 

The five winning ideas from the competition are: 

Innovation Factory – audio sensors will detect the application of graffiti in order to alert authorities and trigger audio and visual deterrents. 

Sensing Feeling – AI-software will analyse the behaviour of vandals to detect graffiti vandals at graffiti hotspots, deterrents will include alarms and lights. 

HausBots – wall climbing robotics will be used to apply graffiti preventative paints, reducing the risk of such hazards to the workforce as working at heights. 

Powerlase – this innovation will use lasers to remove graffiti from surfaces whilst preventing additional damage to the finish of surface coatings and films. 

Nano Eco Group – a 3D molecular coating to prevent the adhesion of to a variety of surfaces and films 

Kier Head of Innovation, Tom Tideswell, said: 

“Tackling graffiti is an everyday labour-intensive occurrence for our maintenance teams and we are always on the look-out for innovative solutions to speed up the identification and reduce time on site removing graffiti.  

“The variety of applications chosen to be taken forward can potentially increase removal productivity, reduce exposure to our workforce and reduce the need for traffic management which will improve journey reliability times for road users. I am looking forward to seeing how these potential solutions progress and enhance the variety of methods of prevention and removal of graffiti.” 

The competition follows a recent trial of new solutions that took place over two days at an off-road site at Gravelly Hill Interchange – more commonly known as Spaghetti Junction – in Birmingham. You can find out more about the trials here

You can find out more about the cohort for the National Highways Graffiti Competition in our cohort brochure below.