Highways England and Innovate UK have allocated up to £20 million in funding to fundamentally change the way UK roads are designed, managed and used in the future.
Run via the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), the competition is designed to help businesses secure funding for innovative projects that ensure a road network in the UK that is fit for the future of mobility.
There is no doubt that the way in which we travel and the vehicles will change in the future, and UK roads must keep pace with that.
The government is championing low carbon alternatives to drive down pollution and make vehicles more efficient; the plan is to ensure that vehicles on UK roads are powered by greener alternatives such as electric, and the investment from Innovate UK will help to accelerate projects that change the way roads are designed.
Roads have evolved in the UK, but by planning ahead in the long term to anticipate and respond to the requirements of future vehicles, more opportunities will follow.
This will ensure that connected and autonomous vehicles – which will change how the transport network operates – will have a road network that is ready for them.
The £20 million in funding is outlined in two competitions; one is for feasibility studies for ideas that are unproven and at a low technology readiness level.
Worth up to £12 million, the second competition will look at feasibility projects that have already been proven and are at a mid to high technology readiness level.
Both competitions, the government said, should tackle the transport challenges set out in Highways England’s Connecting the country: planning for the longer term document.
They need to cover themes including design, construction and maintenance, improving automation during the design process.
Both competitions open on 11 February, and the deadline for registration is 1 May 2019.