Through our competitions, we unlock the knowledge to transform our road network in the future.

We run targeted research and innovation competitions to help us solve some of our challenges.

We'll publish details of current competitions on this page. If you think you have a potential solution, we welcome your application.


Latest competitions

National Highways Hazard Protection on Roads Accelerator

We’re working with Connected Places Catapult to launch a new innovation competition to help protect road users by better managing hazards on the country’s motorways and major A-roads.

We targeted small or medium enterprises that may not have worked with us before and could have as yet undiscovered innovation gems to share with us around improving hazard protection.

Entries could offer a completely novel approach to the issue, apply existing technologies in new areas or develop new technologies for existing areas. The categories were as follows:

  • Gathering data about hazards on roads – technologies which contribute to identifying and gathering data on hazards such as CCTV data, analytics, satellite and in-car data including GPS and vehicle sensors.
  • Streamlining hazard responses – helping to respond quickly and accurately to any identified hazard, solutions could include automatically alerting drivers, automated responses and clean-up of hazards and notifying professionals such as traffic officers.
  • Improving driver notification of hazards – better notification to drivers when a hazard is identified or, for planned roadworks, making sure drivers are aware and know how to safely navigate.
  • Improving testing of hazard detection technology – this aims to assess the real-world performance of any technology, enabling smoother software updates and also to generate datasets on hazard detection performance.
  • Influencing drivers to reduce unsafe behaviour – we want to identify and accelerate any innovations which could reduce unsafe driving behaviour such as using mobile phones or stopping unnecessarily on motorways.

Finalists announced!

The nine projects being taken forward are:

  • Esitu Solutions (based in Nottingham): Esitu Solutions will be developing a virtual reality training course as a downloadable app for the Meta Quest headset to promote safer and more considerate driving
  • Vesos, (Devon): Vesos developed TeCall to harvest eCall data automatically sent after collisions. TeCall fuses other hazard alerts, adds vehicle make and model, propulsion and can identify if vulnerable drivers are on board
  • PRAM (Dublin): An integrated solution that predicts weather-related and surface condition hazards on the network and is based on 3D radar technology widely used in the automotive industry
  • VivaCity (London): VivaCity’s sensors provide data on interactions between road users, enabling a proactive response to an increased rate of near misses
  • Roadside Technologies (Chesterfield): Roadside Technologies is developing an automated hazardous object detection solution using the latest in sensing technology, to improve road user safety and enable smoother journeys through temporary work zones on roads.
  • CrossTech (Wiltshire): CrossTech has developed a stopped vehicle detection verification system. The platform builds on the automated computer vision inspection platform from the rail industry, called Hubble.
  • Route Reports (London): A video analytics-based road monitoring device that can be fitted to any National Highways vehicle in order to automatically detect hazards.
  • TransPix, (Hull): TransPix uses video analytics and computer vision technology to improve road and workplace safety by detecting complex behaviours and hazards
  • Valerann, (London): Valerann’s AI real-time road data analytics platform fuses data from a broad range of data sources to deliver road traffic situation insights and accidents risk modelling, improving road traffic authorities’ situational awareness and empowering them to take accurate, actionable and timely decisions
Contractor in hi vis removing debris from a motorway

Recent competitions

Innovating to improve customer experiences of roadworks

We hosted an open competition for organisations across varying markets to work with us, testing innovations that could have a positive impact on customer experiences of roadworks.

We asked for people who could help us make a difference for road users, or the communities and businesses impacted by roadworks to submit their ideas to us.

Working in collaboration with Connected Places Catapult, the competition aimed to identify new technology, products or services that could make a positive difference to people’s experience of roadworks whether they are driving through the roadworks or living nearby.

Earlier this year, 10 finalists received up to £15,000 each to investigate the feasibility of their ideas.

Three of those solutions have now been selected to be trialled in real-life situations on England’s motorways and A-roads and will each receive up to £60,000 to take their ideas forward.

Successful firms announced!

The successful firms to reach the final stage of the programme are:

  • Cambridge-based Alchera Technologies which will use AI to improve roadwork planning by better understanding the impacts of different roadworks and road closures ensuring the best option for road users and reduced delays
  • Robok, also based in Cambridge, will use AI-powered computer vision technology to analyse CCTV footage offering a better understanding of both road user and roadworker behaviour and helping to improve people’s experiences of roadworks
  • WordNerds, of Gateshead, will provide new insights on people’s perception of roadworks using AI powered text-analytics which will help National Highways make evidence-based improvements on planned works
image showing roadworks

Finding pioneering ways to take care of bridges

We looked to revolutionise the way we take care of bridges and other structures by hunting out new and innovative ways that would spot potential defects sooner.

Research had been helping us in the ambitious journey towards self-monitoring and self-maintaining bridges with cutting-edge technology and modern methods being sought out for testing.

One of the greatest threats to bridges and structures on our road network is the corrosion of steel elements which are often encased in concrete.

This research project, Structures Moonshot, focused on two specific features in particular, the steel tendons in post-tensioned structures and reinforcement within concrete half-joints – a ‘shelf’ constructed at the end of one span to support the adjacent span.

These features can be vulnerable to deterioration but are difficult to access and often require intrusive investigations to assess the condition. This can require lane or road closures causing disruption for motorists.

We wanted to find solutions that could detect defects sooner and resolved the issues in a less disruptive and a non-destructive way and so we launched a competition as part of the project to find new innovations and technology.

The project was taken forward by Atkins-Jacobs Joint Venture (AJJV) which carried out extensive testing and research to identify the most suitable technologies for conducting advanced forms of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) on structures.

What was on offer for successful entrants

Successful entrants would be given a rare opportunity to carry out some real-world testing of their products on sample bridge sections taken from the decommissioned A14 Huntingdon Railway Viaduct. This would provide a platform to showcase their products to us and the wider industry before the sample is demolished which would allow participants to validate their results.

The outcomes of the testing would enable participants to optimise the effectiveness and applicability of their solutions. The results would also be published to enable collaboration and shared learning across the construction industry.

The competition closed on 4 August 2023.


Successful fims announced

  • Screening Eagle - Carried out ground penetration radar as well as a half-cell potential survey, and presented integrated results on its bespoke post-processing platform, Insights.  
  • Hilti - Conducted a cover-meter survey using its state-of-the-art Ferroscan concrete scanners
Image of bridge
"Through this competition we hope to find solutions that we haven’t yet trialled, tested or even thought of ourselves that will make a difference for road users, communities and businesses impacted by works. The brief is deliberately wide because we want people to come to us with a whole range of ideas"
National Highways Executive Director of Major Projects, Nicola Bell


Some of our previous competitions:

Wiping out graffiti
Wall walking robot;
Transforming road markings
testing road markings;
Developing digital roads and improving air quality
road at dusk;
CCTV analytics - Vivacity
tunnel incident detection;