8 June 2022 | Innovation | Our Work

Innovation Festival: Hampshire County Council commits to making network available for trials

Hampshire County Council has committed to making its highway network available for trials as part of this year’s Local Council Roads Innovation Group’s (LCRIG) Innovation Festival. Tim Lawton who is the Assistant Director of Highways, Engineering and Implementation talks about why the local authority is getting involved in this year’s event and the importance of innovation.

 

Q. Why is innovation so important?

A. “With highway maintenance budgets under severe pressure, it is essential that we continuously explore, embrace and embed innovative technologies, materials and processes to maximise service efficiencies and ensure that our maintenance service remains sustainable. Innovation is a key factor in helping us adapt to the ever-changing needs of society and the impacts of things like climate change.”

 

Q. What do you hope to get out of your participation in the Innovation Festival?

A. “Embracing innovation and transformational change is ‘business as usual’ for us and there is positive political support to explore innovative ways of working. It is important that we keep up-to-date with new and emerging technologies and solutions so this event provides us with a fantastic opportunity to horizon scan and to connect, collaborate and share best practice with both innovators and other local authorities.”

 

Q. In what ways do you plan on working with qualifying innovators and how will you help them?

A.Promoting and developing innovation, through collaboration, is embedded within our current highways contract so we are used to working closely with our service provider partners and their wider supply chain to develop different ways of working. We have tested and trialled various cutting-edge technologies and have worked closely with the suppliers to help develop and improve their products. We will be looking to continue to work in open, transparent, and collaborative partnerships so that the collective knowledge and wisdom gained is used to the benefit of all parties involved, and where possible, the wider sector.”

 

Q. Can you provide any further details of the funding/trials you are making available?

A.We remain open to exploring relevant and interesting ideas with suppliers. The availability of funding will depend on whether the type of trial will support our local needs, objectives and priorities.” 

Q. How can other councils help support and take forward innovative ideas?

A. “Collaboration and knowledge sharing needs to be more prevalent across the highways and construction sectors. What might be new and innovative for some authorities could already be established standard practice for others. As individual authorities we all already play to our strengths but as a like-minded collective I think we can better influence the pace of development and give innovators a significantly better platform to share their ideas.”

 

Applications for qualifying innovators now open

Details of how to apply to be a qualifying innovator at this year’s Innovation Festival have been released by the Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG).

The LCRIG Innovation Festival will be a first of its kind event, giving qualifying innovators the chance to receive funding to develop an innovation or facilitate a trial of their product or solution on a local authority network.

A number of local authorities have committed to making their networks available for trials and a portion of all exhibition space and sponsor sales at the festival will be put into the LCRIG / Steve Berry Innovation Fund, to be distributed to winning innovators, or to contribute to the cost of a trial, for each innovation category.

You can find out more information and register for the event here.

 

Blackpool Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, NY Highways, Reading Borough Council and Bolton Council are also making their highway networks available for trials as part of this year’s event.