More than 450 people from local and national government, technology companies, associations, contractors, consultants and academia attended the Local Council Roads Innovation Group’s (LCRIG) inaugural Innovation Festival last week.
This summer’s Innovation Festival, which took place at Newark Showground from 6-7 July, was a first of its kind for the highways sector. The new event was established to ‘make the case for innovation’ and brought together local authorities, central government, the supply chain, associations and academia.
More than 60 different local highway authorities were represented at the event with the DfT, National Highways, Welsh Government and other key bodies in attendance over the two days.
LCRIG invited organisations to attend and exhibit at the Festival with a contribution from all exhibitors being put towards the LCRIG ‘Steve Berry – Think Exceptional’ Innovation Fund. Exhibitors were able to request to be included as a qualifying innovator to be eligible for funding and the Infrastructure Innovation Board and delegates judged the qualifying innovations.
Ahead of the event a number of councils committed to making their road networks available for trials along with funding for qualifying innovators who participated in the Innovation Festival.
As a result of these commitments hundreds of thousands of pounds are expected to be spent on innovation trials over the next 12 months.
LCRIG are currently collating all of the scores received and these will then be passed onto LCRIG’s Infrastructure Innovation Board to review.
Once this process has been completed LCRIG will then notify all of the Qualifying Innovators.
With over 450 delegates and 59 exhibitors those in attendance at the event enjoyed outdoor demonstrations, presentations and panel sessions, live music, food, and entertainment.
Sessions ranged from ‘Inspiring Innovation’ which focused on front line staff and heads of innovation, highlighting real life examples of how they are driving innovation through their organisations – to ‘Meet the Innovators’ which featured some of the LCRIG Steve Berry Think Exceptional Innovation Fund winners taking part in a discussion on the challenges around innovation and how these barriers can be overcome. The Department for Transport also delivered presentations over both days of the event.
Live demonstrations took place outside the main hall showing the latest innovations on offer. A range of innovations showed off the versatility of the sector with large plant and equipment from the likes of WJ, JCB and Tarmac through to smaller, but equally impressive innovations, with the likes of iTip with their ergonomic handles.
LCRIG Chief Executive Martin Duffy said: “As an industry first event one thing the Innovation Festival definitely did do was highlight the fact that there is a real appetite for innovation and the sharing of new ideas in the highways sector. The lasting memory I will take away from the festival is the buzz amongst everyone who attended and an atmosphere I have not witnessed, except perhaps at Strictly Highways, for many years.
“The Festival represented an opportunity for likeminded professionals to come together and discover the latest innovations that the highways sector has to offer. Discussions centred around opportunities, the benefits of innovation, the challenges of innovation and some of the resources that are available to overcome them. We look forward to continuing to share with our members, and the wider sector, updates on any trials that take place on local authority networks.
“The Festival will now become a key fixture in the sector’s calendar and play a key role in helping to make innovation become business as usual within councils, the supply chain and the wider sector. LCRIG will continue to make the case for innovation and will drive forward and help to implement new ideas through collaboration.”
Delegates from the public sector were invited to attend the event free of charge (including accommodation).
The outcomes, actions and opportunities from the Innovation Festival will be shared with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the highways community on an ongoing basis.
(Picture – LCRIG)