Focused on harnessing technologies new to the construction sector, the Accelerator will use artificial intelligence and advanced sensing technology to drive cost and carbon efficiencies across the HS2 high-speed rail programme.

The five SMEs in the new cohort will be based at the operations hubs of HS2’s main civil works contractors to both acquaint them with construction and help focus development of their technology for the industry.

Each start-up offers a potential technological solution to mitigating the effects of challenges faced during HS2’s construction, from traffic management to weather forecasting, as well as using AI to understand and reduce carbon impact of activities and materials.

“With our fifth Innovation Accelerator we’ve brought in a cohort of tech firms from outside the construction sector to introduce new thinking and ways of working, which we hope can drive just efficiencies across all the HS2 programme’s phases,” said HS2 innovation manager Jon Kelly.

“In addition, we want to see value added to UK plc by helping small, innovative businesses to develop their technology and grow their businesses by providing opportunities to tap into the huge construction industry.”

The five SMEs are:

Silicon Microgravity, a SME spun out from Cambridge University research, is developing non-invasive next-generation gravity sensors to identify underground hazards that could be deployed for ground investigation surveys and utility diversion planning.

EHAB is developing hyper-local weather forecasting and using AI to optimise daily works schedules according to when or if rain is due. Reducing weather-related delays helps to maintain programme timetables and control costs.

Immense Simulations will further develop its AI-based strategic and operational transport planning tool to de-risk the effects of works traffic on local road networks. The technology could also help plan for the future effects HS2 stations could have on traffic movements in surrounding areas.

Consequence has developed “carbon accounting” technology that illustrates the full carbon content of construction materials used on HS2.

Mafic is developing technology to enhance productivity and protect delivery schedules.