Our networks


We cannot innovate alone.


In partnership with industry, academia and other infrastructure operators, we can look at how research, innovation and standardisation can provide better outcomes for our customers, the wider public and our assets.



Our networks



Our work includes:


  • Research, development and technology projects undertaken through our university partnerships with leading British universities.
  • Coordinated efforts with innovation enablers such as Innovate UK.
  • Supporting the introduction and development of new solutions from SMEs and start-ups.
  • Liaising with other operators to share ideas, knowledge and support national programmes.
  • Working with wider industry in the search for improved ways of working
  • Supporting our existing supply chain in their innovation efforts, particularly in development and implementation of new solutions.

Academia and Research


As the custodians of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) we are responsible for ensuring our roads are fit for purpose, both now and in years to come. With this in mind, Highways England recognises the value of research and the important role it plays to help us achieve future objectives. On this basis, we have put in place a Research Strategy to ensure that all our research activities are carried out in a coordinated way and to unlock new knowledge to transform the SRN.

Research activities will:

  • 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; and
  • Attract and develop new talent to the sector.

Research Competitions

To help us solve our challenges, we will be running regular targeted research competitions of our long term vision. These competitions will be aimed at a wide cross section of our network both with existing and new research and innovation partners. These competitions will be informed by our research themes, business requirements and will support our three imperatives, safety, delivery and customer service. Funding will be available for the best projects which align to the challenge’s brief and support our three imperatives.

Research Partnership Programme

Highways England is passionate and committed to medium and longer term research and has initiated a Research Partnership Programme as a core part of its Research Strategy. This programme will strengthen our relationships with research institutions, academia, infrastructure operators and industry by coordinating our efforts with other research and innovation enablers. Highways England will also enable universities, institutes and individuals to apply for financial support for PhD and post-doctoral programmes, which will cover subjects that are integral to our long term commitments.

European and international research

Highways England will continue our collaboration with other European road authorities within the Conference
of European Directors of Roads (CEDR). This collaboration has already helped us to access best European and international practice.


Innovation bodies


  • Department for Transport