Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building


HS2 explores 3D concrete printing and drones in innovation hunt

18 August 2020
Augmented reality at Old Oak Common Station, March 2020

HS2 is looking for more ways to use new technology to make the multi-billion-pound high-speed rail project more efficient, after ideas including 3D concrete printing and automated drones to assist with tree planting caught its attention in the first round of its “Innovation Accelerator” programme.

The first tranche of the programme attracted 109 applicants. Now HS2 is looking to recruit five more small firms with fresh thinking on how to optimise digital solutions for building HS2, and how future HS2 passengers will best be able to spend their time at stations while waiting for trains.

The winning five entrants will join the winners from the first tranche, which focused on productivity, the environment, and the circular economy.

The online application portal is open at It shuts on 18 September.

The Innovation Accelerator programme will provide commercial and technical support and rent-free Birmingham-based working space to the successful entrants, allowing them to develop their proposal. After six months, solutions will be showcased and pitched to industry investors and HS2’s supply chain.

The successful enterprises will be revealed in the autumn.

Howard Mitchell, HS2 Ltd head of innovation, said: “We received more than 100 applications from innovative tech start-ups and SMEs to join Cohort One of HS2’s Innovation Accelerator programme, which beat all our expectations.

“The level of interest underlines the opportunity that HS2 offers to some of the most innovative and dynamic young firms in the country.

“I’m therefore extremely positive about the prospects for Cohort Two, and new thinking on how we build Britain’s new high speed rail network, and enable passengers to make best use of their time in our stations.”


HS2 is a total waste of tax payer’s money, a criminal act against our wildlife, our countryside and our communities. It’s not needed, not wanted and should be stopped NOW.

Sue Stopps, 23 August 2020