Two UK competitions have been launched, seeking innovative ideas to develop digital roads, connected vehicles and infrastructure, design and construction of highways.

In order to attract the most creative minds, Highways England has allocated £20m to invest in projects that change the way the country’s motorways and major A roads are designed, managed and used.

The overall aim of the project is to slash construction and maintenance costs and improve safety and air quality, more efficient use of vehicles, enhanced use public spaces, better and more predictable journey times.

Highways England executive director for safety, engineering and standards Mike Wilson said: “This is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs, collaborative partnerships, and organisations of any size to help shape the roads of the future.

“We want to explore new and innovative approaches and invest in the best. And we’re keen to engage with a wider network than we have traditionally worked with.

“Together we can make great improvements both to people’s journeys and communities and the environment around our network.”

Highways England plans to invest on creative solutions covering six themes such as design, construction and maintenance; connected and autonomous vehicles; customer mobility; energy and the environment; operations; as well as air quality.

“We want to explore new and innovative approaches and invest in the best.”

Entries for the competition will start today, with the deadline on 8 May. These entries have to be suitable for a trial on England’s strategic road network.

Projects are expected to begin by September.

Currently, Highways England is delivering the government’s £15bn road investment programme. It is also paving the way for the second programme, scheduled to commence in April next year.

In June last year, the agency launched an online platform to identify projects that could make roads safer for motorists and road workers, as well as enhancing the mechanism to ensure that relevant information reaches those travelling.

In October 2018, it exhibited a technology that enables cars and the roads to ‘talk’ to each other.

Last month, Highways England announced that it will invest more than £7m in a number of schemes aimed at enhancing journeys, creating jobs and building homes.