4 November 2021 | Innovation | Our Work

Winners of the LCRIG / Steve Berry Think Exceptional Innovation Fund, sponsored by WJ announced

The first companies to receive funding as part of the LCRIG / Steve Berry Think Exceptional Innovation Fund, have now been announced.

A £150,000 Innovation fund for road surface treatments has been made available through the Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG) in partnership with leading highway marking and safety business, WJ Group, who are funding the project.

Local highway authorities, universities, private sector companies and innovative individuals have been invited to apply for a share of the funds by completing an online application form on the LCRIG website.

There has so far been a positive response to the fund launch, with a high level of submissions received from across the highways sector.

The submissions received have been reviewed by members of the board, including representation from WJ and led by Ian Large, Chair of the Infrastructure Innovation Board, and phase 1 and 2 evaluations now completed.

The four companies to receive funding are: Connor Specialist Paving (Tac-Grid), Community Models, Fitzpatrick Advisory (DASHA) and NY Highways.

Richard Whitaker, Business Manager at NY Highways commented: “NY Highways are honoured to hear we will receive funding from the Steve Berry Think Exceptional Innovation Fund. It will be used to help us establish how much carbon we are using in our road treatments, with further support from external consultants to ensure accuracy and compliance with the latest standards.

“This project will provide us with the information we need to help us lower our carbon footprint. We can then share these learnings with LCRIG members and Asset Management software companies such as Symology, allowing us to be part of the solution towards helping everyone become carbon neutral in the future.”

Andrew Connor, Managing Director at Tac-Grid commented: “We would like to thank LCRIG and the panel for this fantastic opportunity and for this forward thinking initiative. We also want to thank the Steve Berry fund and WJ for choosing us as recipients and we hope Steve Berry would have been pleased to have helped us. We sent in the application for funding based around our innovative Tac-Grid tactile system focussing mainly on enhancing the beacon technology.

“After reaching the final stage the excitement grew and we then had to present to the panel, although challenging with their questions, we felt relaxed and were given time to explain the innovation in detail. We are delighted and humbled to receive the funding.”

Sandra Smith, Office and Procurement Manager at Tac-Grid commented: “The funding will enable the company to progress to the next stage of our growth. We can now offer added benefits to Councils with the addition of the dashboard enabling the Council to alter the ‘talking’ beacon immediately and as to their own requirements plus many other benefits. Coventry already has over 300 of our Tac-Grid tactiles with beacons throughout the city and will be the first to benefit from this addition to our technology. We developed Tac-Grid with the visually impaired pedestrian at the forefront of our innovation to help make pedestrian crossings safer and this addition will enhance their experience( the free to download app can be used by any pedestrian).”

Brian Fitzpatrick, Managing Director at Fitzpatrick Advisory commented: “We are delighted to be selected for this funding, and on behalf of the team I would like to thank LCRIG for this opportunity to enhance key areas of DASHA capability.

“DASHA is a simple concept but because local authority officers have been involved in the design it recognises and addresses the complexities of the highways environment, the LCRIG funding means that local authority officers can continue to be involved in DASHA’s evolution. This is a great confidence boost for our team but also I think evidence that LCRIG is influencing change where it matters, at the point of service delivery.”

Brian Pimlott, Director at Community Models Limited commented on the award:

“We are delighted to receive support from the LCRIG / Steve Berry ‘Think Exceptional’ Innovation Fund. The funding accelerates our move from concept to product, providing strategic decision-makers with greater insight into the wider impact of highways decisions on their communities. LCRIG’s involvement offers a terrific multiplier effect, helping to embed innovation and scale the related benefits across the country.”

Ian Large, Chair of the Infrastructure Innovation Board commented on the announcement: “The entire process from start to finish has been a hugely rewarding experience for me and the board members, the variety and wealth of innovation out and active in our working world never fails to surprise me, brilliant ideas, enthusiastic companies and lots of driven individuals.

“If you do think there isn’t anything new going on in our industry, you would be wrong, right across the spectrum, including everything you can think of, work is being undertaken to improve, challenge, change, progress and just generally make things better, alongside totally new innovations , these are exciting times. With the support of the WJ Group, these innovations and the funding awards will help to push and progress things further and bring benefits to all and the wider industry.”

Martin Webb, Group Operations Director at WJ Group added the following comments:  “I believe WJ are at the forefront of innovation, and it has been great to team up with LGRIG and see what innovations are out there in our industry. I am looking forward to seeing the winning innovations coming to fruition in the near future.”

The funding announcement follows LCRIG’s recent Innovation Spotlight sessions, where 21 companies were given the opportunity to present a 15 minute pitch to to the Innovation Board which included Ian Large (Blackpool Council), Martin Duffy (LCRIG), Mark Macgarty (DfT), Matthew Eglinton (DfT) Paul Boss (RSTA), Ross Bullerwell (NY Highways), Dr Annette Pass (National Highways), Paul Carter (Cadent Gas), Jeff Elliott (West Sussex County Council) and David Capon (JAG).

LCRIG has also, this week, published a report entitled ‘Innovation in Highways’ which highlights some interesting findings on the differing approaches between local authorities and the challenges around implementing innovation in highways. You can read the full report, here.