Our approach

Value for our road users

We will stimulate innovation across the highways sector. Successful innovation requires implementation across our business from fundamental research to the effective implementation of standards.


Highways England initiates research to unlock new knowledge to transform the strategic road network.

Our research fits into three timelines:

  • 2020-2025 Short term activities – for successful delivery of the next Road Investment Strategy
  • 2025-2035 Medium term activities – for informing and supporting future Road Investment Strategies
  • 2035-2050 Long-term activities – for pursuing our future aspirations leading up to 2050 and beyond.

Research & academia

What we plan to do:

  • Distinguish Highways England as an active participant in research
  • Find new ways to solve our current and future challenges
  • Strengthen our relationships with research institutions, academia, infrastructure operators and industry.
  • Collaborate with academic experts and specialists to align research with our strategic goals
  • Attract and develop new talent to the sector


Our innovation programmes are a key mechanism by which Highways England develops and implements new products, services and processes to improve the way we operate, maintain, and improve the strategic road network in England.

What we do:

  • Set direction and our approach to drive our innovation culture
  • Manage and deliver our Innovation Programme of targeted portfolios and projects
  • Develop and manage partnerships with our Operational Directorates, our supply chain, Innovate UK, Industry, Catapults, i3P and overseas roads administrations.
  • Develop and refresh Highways England’s Innovation, Technology and Research Strategy, ensuring that it meets future business needs.
  • Manage our Research and Innovation Challenges portfolio of projects.
  • Manage and publish the results of our research and innovation projects​​​​​​​


We act as a centre of excellence that supports colleagues and suppliers across all areas of our business at both strategic and project level
Each region has two expert Lean practitioners; some of these also have a strategic lead for a business area. The expert practitioners develop the capability of staff and delivery partners in the use of Lean continuous improvement techniques, enabling them to deliver continuous improvement.

Our aims include:

  • Developing  the capability of staff and delivery partners in the use of Lean continuous improvement techniques to support the delivery of the company’s Key Performance Indicators
  • Supporting staff and delivery partners continuously improving performance in safety, customer satisfaction and efficiency
  • We will support delivery teams to drive improvement demonstrated by an increase in productivity

Further Information


We will build our ‘technical standards enterprise system’ to accelerate standards development and enable agile ways of working with innovation at the heart of the workface.

The Technical Assurance and Governance Group will continue to provide support and guidance to our internal and external customers by enabling faster publication of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges and the updating of the Manual Contracts Highways Work specifications. In addition we will continue to support enhancement, quality, timeliness and processing of departures. We will continue to support development of the National Highway Sector Schemes that set out the competency levels for operatives working on the UK road network.

Our standards manuals