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Highways England to fund air quality, road safety and tech plans

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Funding for 11 initiatives aimed at tackling a range of issues from air quality, to connected vehicles and improved road safety, has been announced as part of a multi-million-pound competition run by Highways England and Innovate UK

Amongst the winning entries is an initiative which could improve air quality by changing the way drivers leave motorways.

The technology would tell drivers the when traffic lights will change to green at junctions, and suggest an appropriate speed, “reducing the need for vehicles to stop on exit slip roads, which in turn could improve air quality by reducing the stop-starting of vehicles”. 

Mike Wilson, executive director for safety, engineering and standards, Highways England, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this funding to support ideas around connected vehicles and infrastructure, improved safety, design and construction that reduces cost and delivers more predictable journey times – and to improve air quality.

“The competitions opened the door for companies to submit some great entries to us – it was challenging to narrow it down to the final few. We think the competitions have been a great success, which we will consider repeating in the future.”

Highways England launched two competitions, with up to £20 million of funding, earlier this year “to encourage the country’s most creative minds to come up with innovative ideas to change the way the country’s motorways and major A roads are designed, managed and used”. 

More than 200 applications were received in total for two separate competitions. One is for unproven feasibility projects, the other is for proven projects at development stage. 

In addition to the 11 competition winners, Highways England is also set to give a financial boost to a further 13 ideas “that could revolutionise roads and driving”. 

The full list of entries that will receive funding (subject to contract negotiations) is: 

Air quality 

  • Dynamic air quality management – Amey OW limited 
  • Network Emissions/Vehicle Flow Management Adjustment – Aimsun Limited 
  • Green Light Optimised Speed Advisory – Amey OW limited
  • Showcasing artificial intelligence – Clytell UK Limited 
  • easibility 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 
  • Simplifai integrated corridor management – Simplifai systems limited 
  • Biotecture active airflow living wall – Biotecture 
  • Incentivising drivers to lessen emissions – RBD holdings limited 
  • Motorway charging using thermo-mechanical energy storage – Cheesecake energy Ltd 
  • Flywheel fast charging station – Gyrotricity LTD 


  • 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 monetisation – Alchera Technologies 
  • Connected and autonomous vehicles infrastructure appraisal readiness – Galliford Try 
  • Motorway Mobility – Connected Places Catapult 
  • 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

A summary of the projects can be found at highwaysengland.co.uk/innovation-hub.


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