HS2 Accelerator March 2024

The HS2 programme is searching for six small businesses who will be accelerated through a bespoke five-month programme to develop new rail technology ideas.

Opportunity Details


Registration Opens


Registration Closes



Project development; coaching and mentoring; new business relationships and opportunities with HS2, government and wider industry; opportunities to exhibit, present and network at industry-leading events and showcases.

Share this opportunity

Find out more and apply

This is a High Speed Two Ltd Accelerator Programme supported by Connected Places Catapult.

The programme has launched its search for six small businesses to develop new technology ideas for the rail scheme; to be selected for trial and funded by HS2 and its main contractors. 

The six successful SMEs will be accelerated through a bespoke five-month programme involving: 

  • Business development opportunities across HS2 and construction firms involved in the project, including Sir Robert McAlpine, VolkerFitzpatrick, Bouygues Construction, Balfour Beatty, VINCI, Skanska, Costain, STRABAG, Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall. 
  • Project scoping workshops with domain experts and challenge owners from within HS2, the Department for Transport, and the wider industry. 
  • Investment readiness support including opportunities to meet investors, and best practice advice for raising investment and refining investment strategies and plans. 
  • Bespoke business coaching from a consortium of mentors and technical experts with specialisms in areas including Marketing & PR; Product Development & Strategy and Procurement & Bid Writing. 

Since its launch in September 2020, the HS2 Accelerator has supported 25 small technology firms who have collectively secured 23 pilot projects across HS2, raised over £130 million in investment and funding, and more than doubled their teams – creating over 420 new jobs. 

Click here to download the challenge specifications for the accelerator.

    • Applicants must be a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).
    • Applicants can be headquartered outside of the UK, however, they must be able to engage fully with the programme, including attending in-person activities and events.
    • Applicants must have a solution which is technical readiness level (TRL) 5 – 8.  This means that the solution has, at least, been tested or demonstrated in its intended environment and, at most, has been deployed as a first-of-a-kind commercial system.
  • How can we rapidly explore design possibilities and adapt
    designs to evolving project requirements and site-specific

    In the dynamic landscape of construction, the demand for rapid design solutions driven by
    robust data is more critical than ever. We are calling for innovative technologies that
    harness data-driven approaches to expedite the design phase of construction projects.

    We are seeking solutions that could:

    • automate design generation based on project requirements and constraints, to
      enable rapid exploration of various design possibilities.
    • harness artificial intelligence to optimise designs by analysing historical data,
      predicting potential issues, and suggesting enhancements for efficiency and
    • allow seamless communication and information-sharing among interdisciplinary
      stakeholders, including architects, engineers, and contractors, to foster a unified
      and efficient design workflow.
    How can we standardise design to promote consistency,
    efficiency, and excellence across construction projects?

    In the construction industry, there is a lack of standardisation which means that designs are
    made in silos, often from scratch by different contractors, resulting in duplicated effort and

    We are seeking innovative solutions that can support the standardisation of design to streamline inefficiencies, prevent duplicated efforts, and ensure a consistent and high quality process which can be replicated across diverse construction projects.

    We are seeking solutions that could:

    • develop universal design configurations that can be easily iterated upon and
      reused across projects, establishing a standardised library of design elements
    • exchange design knowledge, project learnings and best practice across interdisciplinary stakeholders including architects, engineers, and contractors.
    • integrate industry standards, codes, and regulations directly into the design process, ensuring that designs are inherently compliant and reducing the need for manual checks.
  • How can we efficiently and accurately verify as-built assets to
    their approved designs?

    Ensuring that constructed assets align to their approved designs is a critical aspect of quality control in the construction industry. The current methods of as-built verification often
    involve labour-intensive inspections and can be susceptible to human error or oversight.
    We seek innovative technologies that can provide robust digital assurance, confirming that the as-built assets adherence to the approved designs.

    We are seeking solutions that could:

    • automate how as-built assets are verified during handover, including the review
      of contractual documentation, non-compliance reports and approved design
    • integrate machine learning algorithms to detect deviations from contractual and
      design specifications, improving the accuracy and speed of the assurance
    How can we automate and streamline the management,
    review, and approval of documentation during handover?

    Handover in large infrastructure projects is a critical phase, which requires meticulous
    management, review, and approval of documentation. Information is provided in diverse formats which are often unstructured – this could range from engineering drawings, to
    handwritten forms and PDF reports, to risk registers. We are seeking solutions that can
    automate the current manual processes which are labour-intensive and inefficient, resulting in bottlenecks and delays to approvals.

    We are seeking solutions that could:

    • automatically review documentation to ensure completeness, accuracy, and
    • harness machine learning algorithms to capture and interpret diverse unstructured datasets, including drawings and handwritten documents.
    • interpret hundreds of thousands of unstructured data points to recognise patterns and identify missing information, conflicts, and duplication.
  • How can we adopt a more circular approach to deconstruction and disassembly?

    HS2 has over 350 active sites spanning across the West Midlands and London, undertaking various tasks from tunnel ring prefabrication to viaduct pillar construction.
    Upon completion of construction, these sites and storage yards need to be safely, efficiently, and sustainably removed.

    HS2 is committed to diverting 95% of construction and demolition material from landfill as part of its environmental goals, and improving the deconstruction process is a significant challenge requiring data from multiple contractors. Contractors currently
    collect data about temporary assets in different formats, stored in various locations,
    which can hinder data-driven decision-making.

    We are seeking solutions that could:

    • streamline the collection and analysis of deconstruction and disassembly data
      to enable optioneering for effective waste management.
    • provide data-driven recommendations using carbon lifecycle assessments and
      cost to support decision-making for disposal options.
    • identify opportunities for disassembled assets and materials to be reused or
      repurposed, considering factors such as, value of component materials, quantity
      of assets and component materials, geographic location, deconstruction
      schedule, lifecycle assessment, and permits & consents.
  • On 18 April 2024, Connected Places Catapult will host an Application Support Webinar (10:30am – 12:30pm). This event will give applicants the opportunity to find out more about the programme offering, challenges, the application process, scoring criteria and the assessment process. There will also be a live Q&A for prospective applicants to ask any further questions or check their eligibility. Click here to register for a place on the webinar.

    If you have any questions about the programme, please contact Jasmine Pollock, Accelerator Programme Manager here.


Connect with Innovate UK Business Connect

Join Innovate UK Business Connect's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access Innovate UK Business Connect's deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.