News

HS2 Ltd selects first five tech start-ups to receive its backing

23 September 2020

HS2 Ltd has revealed the five tech start-ups that have succeeded in the first stage of its Innovation Accelerator programme.

The successful companies are:

  • Buildots (AI site progress tracking);
  • Cloudcycle (concrete volume optimisation);
  • Dendra Systems (drone monitoring of tree planting);
  • NatureMetrics (biodiversity monitoring); and
  • Sensat (a platform that captures, visualises and tracks infrastructure project data).

The five were chosen from 109 applicants and will receive commercial and technical support from the Innovation Accelerator together with rent-free working space as they develop their technology for HS2.

After six months of development, the firms’ solutions will be showcased and pitched to industry investors and HS2's supply chain.

Howard Mitchell, HS2 Ltd’s head of innovation, said: “HS2 is already showcasing the very best of British skills and innovation, and the five companies shortlisted for the Innovation Accelerator today are shining examples of this.

“The size and scale of this project creates the perfect environment to encourage innovation and develop technologies that can create long-term business opportunities both in and beyond the rail and construction sectors.” 

The five innovators in detail

Buildots

Buildots has developed wearable camera technology that uses AI and computer vision to automate the tracking of build progress compared to the design and schedule, helping to reduce and resolve disputes.

Roy Danon, Buildots CEO & co-founder, said: "Being selected to be part of the Innovation Accelerator is a perfect fit for our company as we are just starting to grow outside London and into new types of projects."

Cloudcycle

Cloudcycle has developed technology to optimise the amount of concrete needed to build HS2. Sensors fitted inside cement mixer drums form part of an IoT solution that learns the properties and qualities of the concrete it is mixing. By enabling real time data management for reliable concrete delivery, on Phase One Cloudcycle’s technology could reduce concrete demand by up to 420,000 tonnes, cut carbon emissions by 50million kg and water consumption by 2.6m litres.

Phillip White, Cloudcycle Founder and CEO, said: "We have the opportunity to work on Europe's largest infrastructure project with unprecedented access to the whole supply chain from concrete suppliers, construction companies and HS2 itself. Without this we would be unable to validate our technology or prove the value it brings to the whole supply chain and the environment."

Dendra Systems

Dendra’s drone and AI platform could help to both plant and monitor the 140-mile green corridor of seven million trees and shrubs that HS2 will create between the West Midlands and London. The solution combines aerial and AI-based technologies that will learn to identify the 46 tree species planted along the route and assess whether they are thriving or are in need of help such as improving land condition or invasive weed mitigation

Dr Susan Graham, Dendra Systems CEO and Co-founder, said: “As a company focused on restoring native ecosystems, the HS2 Green Corridor Programme is exactly the type of work we want to focus on.  We look forward to adapting our technology to this operating environment and together achieving the environmental rehabilitation goals for ambitious projects such as HS2.”

NatureMetrics

NatureMetrics’ biodiversity monitoring kit could help with the creation of HS2’s green corridor either side of the tracks by monitoring progress of its newly created woodland habitat. The technology sequences DNA into usable ecology information that shows the distribution of species across a landscape and tracks how habitats change throughout the project lifecycle. 
Katie Critchlow, NatureMetrics CEO, said: “We want to demonstrate how our DNA-based monitoring technology can increase the power and pace of ecological surveys in the global green transport sector. Learning how to engage major projects like HS2 will enable us to triple our revenue from UK and international customers over the next two years.”

Sensat 

Sensat has developed a cloud-based platform to capture, visualise and track infrastructure project data from anywhere in the world. Its 3D visualisation helps engineers collaborate remotely from any location, reducing the need for site visits and enabling progress tracking in a very visual way.

James Dean, Sensat CEO, said: “I’m delighted that Sensat has the opportunity to not only partake in this but contribute to significantly helping the delivery of our most important infrastructure.”