Highways England reveals air quality and road innovation competition winners


Highways England (HE) and its partner Innovate UK have announced the 24 winners of two, multi-million-pound competitions to help improve air quality and the operation of the country’s motorways and strategic road network (SRN).

HE launched two competitions worth up to £20m (US$25m) earlier this year to encourage the country’s most creative minds to come up with innovative ideas to change the way motorways and major A roads are designed, managed and used. The agency received more than 200 applications from a diverse network of innovators, with just over a third from micro companies with less than 10 employees. The projects being funded included new construction materials, different ways of tackling air quality, and better use of technology to provide people with a range of information. One competition is for unproven feasibility projects which through a second phase closed competition could be further funded for development. The other competition is for proven projects at development stage.

HE has awarded funding to 11 initiatives that could tackle air quality around the country’s motorways and major A roads, and the agency is also set to give a financial boost to a further 13 ideas that could revolutionize roads and driving. The finance will come from two of HE’s ringfenced funds that have been designated for innovation and air quality projects. The competition was facilitated by Innovate UK as a small business research initiative, with the final awards subject to contract negotiations.

The winning air quality competition entries are:

  • Dynamic air quality management – Amey OW Limited;
  • Network Emissions/Vehicle Flow Management Adjustment – Aimsun Limited;
  • Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory (GLOSA) – Amey OW Limited;
  • Showcasing artificial intelligence – Clytell UK Limited;
  • Feasibility of tool to assess air quality impacts of elevated roads – Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants Ltd;
  • Clean efficient off-grid electric vehicle charging – Intelligent Power Generation Limited (IPG);
  • Integrated corridor management – Simplifai Systems Limited;
  • Active airflow living wall – Biotecture;
  • Incentivizing drivers to lessen emissions – RBD Holdings Limited;
  • Motorway charging using thermo-mechanical energy storage – Cheesecake Energy Ltd;
  • Flywheel fast charging station – Gyrotricity Ltd.

The winning innovation competition entries are:

  • Digitally enabled and assured product-based bridges – Laing O’Rourke;
  • Connected Digital Roads – Costain Group PLC;
  • Flexible, future-proof edge compute services for connected vehicles and advanced road operation – Vodafone Group Services Limited;
  • Video analytics service – Costain Group PLC;
  • Sustainable asphalt – BAM;
  • SRN impact – Travel AI;
  • Road Asset Geometry and Condition Data Capture – Bentley Systems;
  • Secure real time API for innovation and data monetization – Alchera Technologies;
  • Connected and autonomous vehicles infrastructure appraisal readiness – Galliford Try;
  • Motorway Mobility – Connected Places Catapult (CPC);
  • Very High-Speed Communications Infrastructure – Ingram Networks Ltd;
  • Intelligent Environmental Estate – Ramboll;
  • The use of eCall data to identify road incidents and hazards – Chiltech Limited.

“We are delighted to be able to offer this funding to support ideas which have the potential to improve the environment around our roads, for people’s journeys and local communities,” said Mike Wilson, HE’s executive director for safety, engineering and standards. “We have been seeking innovative ideas which could save lives, reduce congestion or improve air quality, and the competitions have proved a great success with so many great ideas submitted and something we will consider repeating in the future.”

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