Research and development

We understand the importance of research and development. It creates new knowledge to help us understand and improve our performance and meet future network challenges.

Research and development

We face an uncertain future, with fast developing technology and societal change.

To make well informed decisions that will take us forward, we need the best available knowledge about:

  • the way the world is developing
  • the risks and opportunities this creates for us

Undertaking research with academia and industry gives us a business focussed, cost effective way to improve how we operate and deliver our business.

Strong ties with academia and research institutions help us achieve our aim of being a top-performing road operator.

More than two dozen research fellows and doctoral students work in partnership with us. Their research spans a range of engineering topics.

Learn more about our research fellows and doctoral students.

"We strongly value research and innovation here at National Highways – as we want to continue to build and operate one of the safest and best performing road networks in the world now and in the future. We are proud that our students and fellows are playing their part to help fulfil the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development goals."
Dr Chrysoula Litina, Principal Research Engineer, National Highways

Roads Research Alliance

We have joined force with companies from our supply chain to form the new Roads Research Alliance.

The alliance will lead a £14.5 million programme for the development of innovative projects in the highways industry over the next five years.

Research already under way includes:

  • using robots and semi-automation to carry out roadside tasks, keeping workers safe
  • maximising the use of waste materials in road construction
  • low carbon self-healing concrete roads.

In partnership with the University of Cambridge and Costain, we have received £5.5m funding for a five-year programme supporting research in

  • digital roads
  • sustainability
  • automation
  • carbon reduction

Funding has been provided by:

  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Engineering
  • Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • EU Marie Sklodowska Curie Action (MSCA)

We've also reached out to organisations across the sector to help define the research required to tackle challenges now and in the future.

Road Research Alliance signing ceremony
National Highways Chief Executive, Nick Harris, and Prof. Ioannis Brilakis of the University of Cambridge hold the signed charter with representatives from the other partners in the new alliance.

The alliance was formally launched on 27 September 2022 at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge. The 22 members signed a charter witnessing their joint commitment to the co-operation and support the research programme will require.

Find out more about the research projects at the University of Cambridge.

"Together we can develop ideas that will increase safety on our network as well as improving how we design, maintain, operate and build roads. This is the first time National Highways has formed an alliance like this to deliver research and we are looking forward to seeing the exciting results."
Nick Harris, National Highways Chief Executive

Our research publications

We publish the results of our research and collaborations on this site.

View research publications

Examples of our current academic research collaborations

Intelligent mobility
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Automated smart concrete components
smart concrete;
Centre for doctoral training (CDT)
bridge design;
Targetting research excellence
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