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A competition has been launched by National Highways asking people to submit new ideas for zero-carbon solutions for maintenance and construction. Successful competitors will have up to £110,000 to make their ideas a reality.

With a pledge to cut maintenance and construction emissions to net zero by 2040, National Highways is seeking solutions to several challenges. These are specified within their ‘Accelerating Low Carbon Innovation Programme’. 

By teaming up with Connected Places Catapult, the competition is worth around £1.7m. This includes programme delivery costs to entrants as well as the funding available to winners. They’ll receive up to £30,000 to develop a trial proposal and a further £80,000 to fully execute their successful idea within a live environment.

The competition aims to find solutions outside of the existing resources through new ideas from innovators all across the country. There are three main challenges ideas should focus on: 

  1. Alternative materials. The solution should reduce emissions from cement, concrete, asphalt and steel by at least 50%, utilising alternative materials and techniques.
  2. Decision-making enablers for asset management and whole life value of assets. With a projected reduction of new build activities, maintenance and renewals will become a vital part of asset management. They are looking for an innovative improvement in asset-management decision-making.
  3. Enablers for the circular economy in the construction and maintenance of highway assets. This seeks innovation in reusing, redeploying, and recycling materials and assets in construction.

There is an additional ‘open challenge’ where other ideas can be submitted to help contribute to reaching the 2040 target for net zero emissions.

Dr Joanna White, director of roads development, said: “We want to speed up the innovations within our sector and adopt new solutions. The innovation accelerator will help take potential solutions and drive them through the research and testing phases.” 

Applications can be made by registering on the Connected Places Catapult website. Entries are welcome until the 30th of April, with an application support webinar taking place on the 11th of April that will include a live Q&A about the process and the programme itself.

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