LCRIG launches new Innovation Fund with support of WJ Group in tribute to Steve Berry OBE

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

The money will be available to local highway authorities, universities, private sector companies and innovative individuals, with the applications for funding made via the LCRIG website. 

The fund will be known as the ‘LCRIG/Steve Berry Think Exceptional Innovation Fund, sponsored by WJ Group.’

LCRIG and WJ see this as a fitting tribute to Steve Berry OBE – the Department for Transport’s head of highways maintenance, innovation and resilience – who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Work has been going on in the background at LCRIG to put together an Infrastructure Innovation Board that will help administer the fund. 

The Board has been set up to seek out new products/materials that can be trialled on the highway network and strengthen the link between suppliers and contractors. 

The Board includes representation from the Department for Transport (DfT) and comprises several key individuals from across the roads, utilities, and energy sectors. The board members represent a range of different organisations, including central government, local authorities, trade associations and technology providers. 

Members, including a representative from WJ, will assess the initial funding applications and vote on which proposals to support. 

A Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) made up of private sector representatives will help provide technical guidance.

LCRIG President Will Britain said: “Anything that can be done to help speed up innovation should be welcomed. We are delighted to have the support of WJ and look forward to receiving applications for funding in this space. 

“Over the years WJ has shown themselves to be a forward-thinking and innovative business, and we look forward to them playing a key role in helping to try and cut away at the layers of delay that can often stifle innovation. Our Board members will offer clear and constructive feedback and are looking forward to assessing funding applications.”

Martin Webb, Group Operations Director at WJ Group, said: “When we became aware of LCRIG’s ideas around speeding up innovation we jumped at the chance to get involved. We want to play a part in helping to fund new ideas that could become the next big thing in the road surface treatments space. We were already working on an innovation funding project of our own, however bringing the projects together and working in partnership with LCRIG seemed like a great way to scale and accelerate this collaboratively.

“We have always been a leader in the sector for our proactive approach to innovation within our own business, but now we want to play a part in helping others to fund new ideas that could become the next big thing in the road surface treatments space.

“The culture of our business from every aspect is to ‘Think Exceptional’ and our hope is that this new fund will allow others to do so. Too often innovation can get stuck in the starting blocks, but this initiative will help inspire ideas and more importantly provide the support needed to take action in bringing those innovations to life. We look forward to working with members of the Infrastructure Innovation Board to assess applications and then ultimately see the funding making a difference in the sector.”

LCRIG Chief Executive Martin Duffy added: “Ultimately, this is about innovation delivering value across the whole market. LCRIG’s initiative with WJ is an example of a supplier working alongside a client to deliver change.  These types of collaborative partnerships will be key going forward as the sector aims to Build Back Better from the pandemic. For me, it is important that innovation is scaled up and becomes part of businesses DNA.  So don’t delay; the time for change is now. If you are an innovator who is hungry to get their ideas heard and make a change, then come forward now.”

LCRIG hopes that the industry will get involved with the administration of other innovation funds targeted at different market segments such as street lighting technology, signal technology, traffic management, etc. 

Funding applications can be received at any time, with the expected duration of the fund set to last a year. 

Applications will follow a two-phase process:

Phase one – Completion of the online application form.

Phase two – Successful applicants chosen by the Innovation board will be invited for a discussion panel and Q&A session.

To start your application visit: https://lcrig.org.uk/innovation-technology/think-exceptional-innovation-fund

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