Innovation Exchange challenge: Longevity of Concrete Structures

The challenge sponsors are looking for innovative and cost-effective ways to maintain concrete structures, extend their useful life, and build confidence around their longevity.

Opportunity Details


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Successful applicants will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas and or products to two of the UK’s significant infrastructure operators, and a potential opportunity to take products & services to trials, feasibility studies or demonstrators.

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Net Zero requirements and targets are driving the need to get more out of existing and future assets. The most carbon efficient process is not to build a new asset. Confidence is required in integrity of existing structures, so earlier and smaller interventions are preferable to new build.  Therefore, existing assets need to be maintained facilitating optimised investment to provide whole life value out them. Processes, products, and systems are required to extend the economic life of reinforced concrete structures.  Funds for asset management are limited so existing structures are a priority but the reduction of new capital replacement programs through the reuse of existing assets would be a significant advantage.  Carbon reduction, both embedded and operational, is a high priority but not building something has the greatest positive impact on carbon.

Challenge holders and requirements

Environment Agency: Many existing assets that require care and maintenance, looking for optimum investment. Require confidence in existing structures, earlier & smaller interventions, and not new build.  Limited funds for proactive intervention for asset management
Life extension at the optimum time, typically before assets are showing visible signs of degradation, Adaption of existing assets (e.g. flood walls)is priority, but can we have confidence in durability to reduce amount of new construction. Looking for interventions that can extend structure / building lifetimes. Driver is whole life of asset.  Low carbon desirable.

National Grid: 300+ HV sub-stations and increasing customer connections requiring new sub-stations & extending existing sub-stations so significant amount of concrete works.  Durability is critical as outages are costly.  50 years+ lifetime required.  Also structures that support other assets which require concrete.  Aligning with UK targets re net zero / decarbonisation.  Help to re-use existing structure but important on new build is sustainability & low carbon.  Options to explore novel reinforced concretes on non-critical structures. Commonality is failure modes /degradation of existing reinforced concretes so looking for repair / longevity solutions / life extension solutions.  Better ways to use / extend life of existing and new structures.

The challenge holders are keen to consider a range of solutions to transform the operation, maintenance & construction of reinforced concrete structures, increasing the longevity of the structures.

Both National Grid and Environment Agency have a vast portfolio of infrastructure where reinforced concrete is a significant material of choice.  Many structures would be deemed as critical national infrastructure. Any successful trial is likely to lead to significant opportunities.  Both organisations are client members of i3P (Infrastructure Industry Innovation Partnership) where innovative solutions are readily shared and adopted across all the major UK infrastructure projects.

Generally looking for innovations that are TRL5.

Entrants to this competition must be:

  • Established businesses, start-ups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs.
  • UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base.

For further info, including functional technical requirements, visit the Innovation Exchange site at the link below.


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