Funding competition SBRI: roads for the future for connected and autonomous vehicles

A share of up to £200,000 is available for ideas to change road design, management and use, to maximise the benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles.

This competition is now closed.

Register and apply online

Competition sections


The National Infrastructure Commission and Highways England are investing up to £200,000. This is for innovative ideas to change how UK roads are designed, managed and used, to maximise the benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). Innovate UK is the delivery partner for this competition.

Up to £150,000 will be available for 5 feasibility study projects. After successful applicants have completed their projects, the best project will be awarded an additional sum of £50,000.

Applications must focus on changes to roads or related infrastructure to be eligible. The changes must be directly related to the introduction of CAVs.

The competition will cover 3 broad themes:

  1. Road design, including road-related infrastructure.
  2. Traffic management.
  3. Road rules and regulations.

Proposals outside these themes will be considered provided they meet the criteria above and have not been specifically excluded.

Please contact us before you apply if you have concerns about the scope of the competition.

Funding type


Project size

Successful applicants will be allocated up to £30,000 each. Projects should be completed within 3 months, and before 24 August 2018.

Find out if you are eligible to apply

To lead a project you can:

  • be an organisation of any size, age or type
  • be an individual, or organisation with the ability to be party to a legally binding contract
  • be based inside or outside the EU
  • work alone or in partnership with others as subcontractors
Your idea must be applicable to roads in the UK.

Projects that we won't fund

We will not fund projects that are:

  • not directly applicable to the UK public highway used by motorised vehicles
  • focused on non-road modes of transport, such as rail
  • focused on forecasting demand for road use, or the current planning processes for delivering road schemes
  • primarily focused on vehicles themselves

Funding and project details

Up to £30,000 will be awarded for each innovation project. We expect to fund up to 5 projects. Following completion, a further £50,000 will be awarded to the best project.

Independent experts will assess the applications. A jury appointed by the National Infrastructure Commission will review the assessment and will select up to 5 projects. The jury will also select the winner of the competition once the projects have been completed.

Projects will be assessed against similar criteria to the application forms, as described in the invitation to tender document. These criteria will be confirmed with successful applicants before their projects start. The start date is expected to be 25 May 2018, when the contracts will be issued.

The final award of £50,000 to the best project will be unconditional on any further work being undertaken.

Competition scope

The aim of this competition is to generate practical ideas for how UK roads should be designed, managed and used to maximise the benefits of CAVs.

You should:

  • provide an overview of your idea
  • explain how it supports at least one anticipated benefit of CAVs
  • outline how it relates to a plausible long-term vision of how CAVs will use UK roads in 2050
  • explain how your idea is feasible, affordable and deliverable

Examples of the anticipated benefits of CAVS, and considerations when demonstrating the feasibility of ideas, are summarised in the guidance for applicants. These examples are not exhaustive or definitive. You are free to highlight other potential benefits that your ideas would help to deliver.

Your application should include a project plan and methodology statement for a 3 month study. The study should demonstrate the feasibility of your idea and the benefits. You should also demonstrate how you would spend up to £30,000 to deliver the project.

Your project must be relevant to the UK public highway as used by motorised vehicles. It can focus on particular types of road (from urban high streets to motorways) or types of road use (including public transport and freight). It can either be location-specific or generic.

Specific competition themes

Projects should follow one or more of these 3 broad overlapping themes:

  1. Road design, including road related infrastructure. This is the physical layout of the road, including the location and characteristics of line markings. It also includes the design and location of supporting infrastructure, such as signs, posts, gantries, crash barriers, lighting columns and so on.
  2. Traffic management. This refers to any mechanism employed by highway authorities to control or regulate traffic flow or volumes on the network. The most prominent example of this is traffic signals.
  3. Road rules and regulations. This is anything that limits driver behaviour in keeping with regulations, as defined primarily in the Highway Code. It can include speed limits and waiting or loading restrictions.

Other projects will be considered if they have not been specifically excluded. They must focus on changes to roads or road-related infrastructure directly related to the introduction of CAVs.
15 January 2018
Competition opens
31 January 2018
Online briefing recording.
7 March 2018 12:00pm
Registration closes
14 March 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
27 April 2018
Applicants notified
25 May 2018
Contracts issued.

Before you start

To apply:

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential. Successful applications will be those that:

  • are high quality
  • address one of the range of themes as described in the scope
  • can be practically taken forward as a project between 25 May and 24 August 2018
  • have the potential to be developed into longer-term programmes

Subject to meeting the quality threshold, we reserve the right to manage the portfolio to deliver a range of projects focused on different themes and benefits.

Google Docs and other open source software is incompatible with the application form. Please use Microsoft Word where possible. If you have difficulties with your application form, please contact us.

Guidance for applicants

Background and further information

Before developing proposals, you are advised to read the following reports for a more detailed understanding of the background to this competition:

  1. Congestion, capacity, carbon: priorities for national infrastructure’, a report by the National Infrastructure Commission published in October 2017. You should pay attention to chapter 5: a revolution in road transport.
  2. Connected future’, a report by the National Infrastructure Commission published in December 2016.

We strongly advise you to contact the Knowledge Transfer Network when looking for potential partners and for application reviewing. If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

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