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Eight innovative SMEs make cut for NCE Accelerator


Eight incredible SMEs with innovative ideas on how to transform the civil engineering sector have been selected to receive further support through the NCE Accelerator progamme.

 The NCE Accelerator, powered by Costain, has been developed to provide a way for SMEs that have bright ideas to transform infrastructure delivery to get their voices heard by leading UK clients. The eight SMEs shortlisted will now work with Costain to hone their concepts over the next few weeks with the best five going on to pitch and present to a panel of clients and the entire audience at New Civil Engineer’s Festival of Innovation and Technology (TechFest) on 19 September.

The winner will be presented with the prestigious TechFest SME of the Year award and will then go onto a structured accelerator programme, working with Costain and some of these leading infrastructure clients to take the concept through a test environment.

The eight SMEs shortlisted are:

  • Qualis Flow – Seeks to carry out real-time data analytics on data already being collected to provide site teams with actionable insights to minimise adverse social and environmental impacts of construction activity such as noise and dust. It aims to be a proactive tool that creates vibrant, healthy cities
  • Future Aerial – It’s Drone Cloud promises to deliver data in any format from 2D CAD to full 3D point clouds; removing the need for expensive hardware and software to manage complex datasets. It has already been trialled on a modest project in Northern Ireland and is now seeking to scale up
  • MATtest – Provides automated quality assurance to the pavement construction industry, removing the need for materials technicians to go out and conduct tests in potentially hazardous environments.
  • Gear Buddy – In partnership with a major car manufacturer is leveraging existing technologies from the automotive sector to provide real-time health monitoring of plant and equipment and through machine learning predict breakdowns before they occur
  • nPlan – Has patent-pending algorithms that will take existing data on past projects to predict the duration of activities on future projects. It claims to have already captured data from 120,000 schedules covering 300 million tasks
  • CO-YOU – More than a third by volume of waste from a construction project is derived from materials used to package products being delivered to site. CO-YOU’s patent-pending product is a novel packaging material that stably absorbs CO2 and bio-degrades
  • Beyond Green – Its Arena17 will use existing datasets to provide real time reporting of projects against sustainability indicators such as the UN SDGs that are transparent and standardised, such that businesses can demonstrate progress and identify gaps against industry benchmarks
  • Enable My Team – Has developed automated asset recognition from high resolution imagery for all rail assets. It will take this data and through AI and machine learning detect potential faults before they happen, allowing rail engineers to spend more time proactively mitigating risks rather than reactively fixing failures

“Costain has a very focussed approach to introducing technology into infrastructure projects. Through the NCE Accelerator competition we are hoping to identify SMEs from across a range of industries – be it construction, manufacturing or IT – and provide major infrastructure clients with new solutions,” said Costain group innovation and knowledge manager Tim Embley.

“SMEs have some great ideas but just need the platform and opportunity to share those ideas with people who will invest in them. That is what we want to do.”

Selected runners up will also be invited onto the accelerator programme and also get to work with Costain innovation accelerator manager Usman Shah.

“We were really impressed by the volume and the quality of the entries,” said Shah. “After a morning of debate and deliberation we have selected these eight to present to a selection of our mentors ahead of the Festival as we felt it impossible to decide between them at this stage.

“We look forward to hearing them present; and can’t wait for the Festival where the final five will get to share their innovative solutions with the industry at large,” he adds.

“These eight prove that this is a really exciting time for technology innovation to transform UK infrastructure,” added Embley. “The firms selected in the shortlist are the ones to come and watch at TechFest. Their ideas will inspire, spark new thoughts and in so doing help other businesses bring innovations to their services. I’m looking forward to seeing who wins!”

New Civil Engineer’s TechFest is a full day of inspiration, ideas and innovation. Keynote speakers will provide the inspiration; moderated workshops will germinate the ideas; and five streams of live presentations from TechFest Award finalists will provide the innovation. The event concludes with a gala dinner where all award winners – including the SME Award – will be revealed. Book your place at 

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