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Net zero inspiration from SMEs

As a small player in the construction industry, we know how challenging it can be to get new ideas to market – because we’ve been there. So, it’s encouraging to see that National Highways is nurturing SMEs with innovative ideas through its Accelerating Low Carbon Innovation Programme.

Having announced the competition for small companies to take part in the accelerator programme in March, National Highways published a shortlist of seven this summer. Each will receive between £15,000 and £30,000 to create trial proposals with a follow-on funding phase where the most promising receive a further £80,000 to conduct the trials with Tier One suppliers. Connected Places Catapult – a not-for-profit organisation set up to help get new ideas to market faster - will provide coaching to the shortlisted companies in the accelerator, advising on marketing strategies and investment.

Of the seven shortlisted ideas, four feature recycled materials: fencing from plastic waste from Circuclar11; carbon negative aggregate for asphalt mixes from Low Carbon Materials; binder derived from breaking down waste tyres into their constituent materials from PRG and Xeroc’s recycled concrete created by breaking waste concrete down into its component materials and making new concrete out of them.

The other three ideas are linked to asset monitoring and management. Asset International Structures is proposing smart fibre reinforced plastic bridge beams with optical fibres so that they can be continuously monitored, HausBots has a climbing, crawling robot for bridge inspections, and Loop Cycle is looking to develop a whole life carbon measurement and circular economy tool for highway estate assets.

One of the biggest challenges that Thermal Road Repairs faced when bringing its low-carbon road repair technology to market was negotiating the raft of approvals, specifications and standards that must be met. This is a common challenge for all innovative SMEs, as underlined by Lian Hutchings, product development manager of Low Carbon Materials, a spin-off company from Durham University.

Hutchings says in a video about the programme: “I think the main support we are looking for from this accelerator is a knowledge and expertise of National Highways and their Tier One partners to help us understand the regulation and standards.”

Thermal Road Repairs would like to wish all the shortlisted firms every success in the upcoming phases of the accelerator programme. The support and feedback that we have received from Tier One contractors who have championed our low carbon pothole repair technology, and from National Highways, has been invaluable, and informs our ongoing development programme.


Thermal Road Repairs is a green technology company which supplies systems to improve the quality, cost and time efficiency of road repairs and paving – at a far lower environmental cost than traditional methods. It invests significantly in R&D, to create new technologies and to continuously improve existing ones.

Thermal Road Repairs: Decarbonising the asphalt repair industry.

High output. Low emission. Zero waste. Permanent solution.



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