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Seeing and Believing in Partnerships in the Highways Industry

At this moment in time the highways industry is clearly split between the need to innovate and maintain pace with technology, and the need to have large scale operations that provide value for money through economies of scale.

It could be argued that this has always been the case, but as budgets continue to be put under pressure and public scrutiny and social media commentary grows, SME operators can find themselves in a difficult place to maintain growth and momentum.

Last week Clearview Intelligence had a stand at the Traffex Seeing is Believing event in Leicestershire. There are now too many events in the calendar focused solely on new technology and how it will affect the future of the road network. So, it was refreshing to be at an event like Seeing is Believing where the focus was on the here and now. Visitors wanted to know what equipment could be used on the road network today and to see products and services demoed in new and innovative ways.

Yes, there was a nod to the future with the innovation zone displays, but almost all the showcases had the ability to be deployed now or in the near future and were focused on practical solutions to real world problems rather than what might be useful in 10 years’ time.

Over the course of the last few years Highways England (HE) have stepped up their presence at many of the events. As should be the nature of a government organisation, they continue to drive the direction and working relationships across the industry. This means encouraging the right ways of working and doing this in a collaborative manner.

We think this has resulted in a shift in approach in the industry. We are seeing an increase in the openness for working together and in partnerships, which is very encouraging for all SMEs. This means new ideas and an increase in the pace of change can come through all sizes of companies without the bigger entities controlling access to the marketplace.

Much of this shift has come from the funding the Government, and its various innovation bodies, have made available. Clearview have utilised this kind of funding to enhance its product offerings such as developing an enhanced SolarLite Road Stud which will see improvements to the technology used in the reflective materials, the battery efficiencies and in greater luminosity of the LED lights.

At this year’s Seeing Is Believing there was the launch of a new HE Innovation Portal. This provides a mechanism for connecting with HE on the innovation front, submitting ideas, viewing challenges/competitions currently running, applying for funding and understanding their research activities. Initiatives such as this will certainly help open the doors for SMEs to compete with, and work alongside, bigger companies with their R&D budgets.

As a company that has built its business through many strong and successful partnerships to create truly innovative solutions, this kind of high level encouragement to work together can only be applauded. With continued focus on collaboration and partnerships for both SMEs and bigger companies, this can only provide benefits to the industry and help move new ideas towards actual use on our roads.

Author: Andrew R |Date Published: July 2018

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