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PLEXAL PARTNERS WITH TRANSPORT FOR LONDON ON A NEW INNOVATION INITIATIVE TO MAKE LONDON’S ROADS SAFER, SMARTER AND MORE INCLUSIVE

  • Applications for the London RoadLab innovation programme are now open
  • Selected applicants will embark on a 10-week programme to get their ideas market-ready.
  • They will receive funding from London’s Lane Rental scheme, to allow them pilot ideas and be considered for contracts

London’s roads and streets are the veins and arteries of the city. But disruption to the roads costs the economy £2 billion per year and gets in the way of city life. Transport for London (TfL) has partnered with Plexal, the innovation centre based at Here East, to deliver a programme aimed at finding new solutions for London’s busiest streets to minimise the impact of roadworks on the city. Innovators will receive funds and expert advice to scale solutions at pilot sites during a 10-week programme.

By getting prototypes market-ready, the goal is that the solutions will address some of the capital’s most pressing roadwork challenges. This is in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, which aims to tackle pollution and congestion while encouraging more active travel as London’s population expands from 8.7 million to 10.5 million over the next 25 years.

About the programme

Applications are now open, closing at 12pm on 26th November.

Applicants are encouraged to focus on new and previously untested solutions that address three key challenge areas:

  • Inclusive: Streets must be accessible to all Londoners in line with the Mayor’s Healthy Streets vision. How do we leverage technology to make our roads even more inclusive during maintenance work and upgrades?
  • Safer: How do we minimise the health and safety risks for workers and the public even further during roadworks, which will help reduce road danger and achieve the Mayor’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating death and serious injury from London’s roads?
  • Smarter: Developments in smart technology across all industries are already shaping London into a city of the future. But how can we take advantage of new and untried solutions to further minimise the impact of roadworks?

Applicants should have a working prototype and the solution should be something that’s not previously been used in a roadworks environment.

For more information and how to apply visit: Plexal.com/London-RoadLab

After a multi-stage selection process, the successful applicants will embark on a 10-week programme in early 2019.

Facilitated by Plexal’s innovation team and suported by partners from utilities, London Councils and TfL, members will receive mentoring, access to TfL data, bespoke support and funding. They will also be given the option to pilot infrastructure prototypes on test sites.

At the end of the programme, members will pitch their ideas to TfL and its partners, and be considered for contracts.

A new way to innovate: smart roads, smart city 

The funding for the programme comes from TfL’s Lane Rental Scheme, which has minimised the disruption caused by roadworks since 2012 by applying a daily charge to hotspots during peak hours. Since Lane Rental was introduced in 2012, there has been a 194 per cent increase in companies working at the same site, at the same time and a 31 per cent rise in planned utility works at night. Without the scheme, the extra disruption would have cost approximately £95m in lost travel time. Around 65 schemes, such as mapping below-ground utility services, robotic technology and training to promote efficiency in on-site working practices have already received a share of almost £17m in Lane Rental funding.

Tony Markovski, Chief Innovation Officer at Plexal, said:

“Improving London’s roads is vital to the overall success of the city, so working with TfL on this ambitious project is an exciting opportunity for Plexal. With London RoadLab, TfL is taking a bold approach by trying something new and co-creating solutions with the market. I hope this becomes a new model for public sector procurement where the innovation community is brought into the process early on. We’re looking forward to bringing together the best minds to scale ideas that deliver genuine innovation for London.”

“Being based at Here East, Plexal represents the beating heart of the government’s Olympic legacy plan, using technology and innovation to solve some of our biggest challenges.

With a cybersecurity innovation centre, two universities, tech startups, Ford’s Smart Mobility Innovation Office and lots of physical land around us, this is quickly becoming a hub for innovation in mobility and transport. If you have a mobility solution or challenge, there’s no better sandbox in London.”

Michael Hurwitz, TfL’s Director of Transport Innovation, said: 

“At TfL we regularly engage with innovative companies from around the world to understand and harness the best ideas for how we can better move around London in the future. We have led the way with our open data programme, which now powers over 700 apps, has generated new jobs, saved TfL money, and made it easier than ever before for Londoners to get around the city.”

“Building on this heritage, we are excited to be bringing together a unique collection of partners from the utilities to collectively seek new ideas and products that will help us to make roadworks smarter, safer and more inclusive. Working with Plexal, our first ever innovation partnerships programme will target an even wider range of innovative companies, supporting the ambitions of the Mayor and his Chief Digital Officer to make London the smartest city in the world.”

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