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FAQs - ADEPT Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads in the UK

Full details, requirements and specifications to support applicants can be found in the ADEPT Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads in the UK prospectus.


What is Live Labs 2?

ADEPT Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads in the UK is a three year, UK-wide, £30 million programme funded by the Department for Transport (DfT). Live Labs 2 will trial innovative decarbonisation proposals from local highways authority (LHA) led public-private joint ventures, with a particular focus on the decarbonisation of Scope 2 and 3 emissions in the construction, operations, maintenance, and decommissioning phases of the local roads’ life cycle.

Why is the programme needed?

Transport is responsible for over a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK. Innovation in transport decarbonisation has focused primarily on the tailpipe through promoting modal shift, behavioural change and technological advancement. Much more focus needs to be dedicated to decarbonising road construction and maintenance. Approximately £2bn is spent every year on maintaining our local highway assets with additional spending on building new local infrastructure assets - all of which have a significant carbon impact. Live Labs 2 will address embedded and hidden carbon from specification and procurement, through construction, delivery and operation to decommissioning and reinstatement.

How will the programme drive innovation?

Live Labs 2 has been designed to stimulate innovation amongst local government, commercial and academic partners, suppliers and specialist SMEs. Innovation can be risky for LHAs, which is why DfT have agreed to fund the programme within the parameters set by ADEPT - Scope 2 and 3 infrastructure carbon emissions and defining what ‘good’ looks like in terms of collaboration, and the robust monitoring of Live Lab outcomes.

Who can bid for funding?

We are looking for innovative applications from LHAs, combined authorities or sub-national transport bodies (the latter two must include LHAs) in partnership with the private sector. Collaboration is vital and partnerships can include academia, SMEs, multiple local authorities and companies. As a UK-wide programme, applications are welcome from England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.

What is the timeline for the application process?

The process begins with the launch of the prospectus on 28th July. Support will be provided to prospective applicants at each stage (more information below). The process has five key stages including a Dragons’ Den-style presentation session:

  • Submission of Expression of Interest (nine weeks, closes 12 noon on Fri 30th September 2022) – LHAs have nine weeks to prepare an outline proposal using the template approach outlined in Appendix A of the prospectus.
  • Initial review (week commencing Mon 3rd October 2022) – proposals will be reviewed and once shortlisted, confirmation of entry to the next stage will be required from senior officers in LHAs before being invited to the Dragons’ Den.
  • Dragons’ Den (week commencing Mon 31st October 2022) – prospective teams, led by a Senior Responsible Officer and a political champion, will present their proposals to a panel of independent industry experts. The presentations will be followed by a short question and answer session.
  • Mobilisation of preferred Live Labs (January to March 2023) – the proposals which best meet programme goals will be invited to enter into a funded mobilisation stage, enabling proposals to be developed into a fully specified and costed programme of works.
  • Final assessment (end of March 2023) – following the final assessment, Labs which have successfully mobilised will progress into the funded procurement and development stage.

What support will local highways authorities get in preparing their applications?

Throughout the initial Expression of Interest period, one to one sessions are available with the Programme Director to provide advice to prospective applicants. The Programme Director is independent of the assessment and will not be one of the ‘Dragons’. During the first review of applications, feedback will be given to all participants with a view to improving all submissions prior to the Dragons’ Den. Applications that are successful at this stage will be funded to support the further development and mobilisation of their proposals.

How will the sector benefit?

Embedding innovation and untried technology into ‘business as usual’ practices for local authorities is a risk, and one that is often too much for many LHAs within the traditional highways and transportation sectors. Live Labs is designed to accept that risk as a core principle and recognises that success isn’t guaranteed. Collaboration, sharing information and learning, and a willingness to innovate are embedded into the programme which, as we found with Live Labs 1, often leads to behavioural and culture change. Many of the original Live Labs teams were able to secure additional funding to extend their projects and have created significant changes within their organisations who have created dedicated innovation teams as a result.

Who is ADEPT?

The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) represents place directors from county, unitary, metropolitan and combined authorities along with directors of local enterprise partnerships, sub-national transport bodies and corporate partners drawn from key service sectors. ADEPT members are at the very heart of maximising clean sustainable growth, delivering the projects that are fundamental to creating more resilient communities, economies and infrastructure. Over 14.7 million households in England – and two thirds of the population – rely on services provided by ADEPT members. These services include housing, environmental and regulatory services, planning, economic development, culture and highways and transport. The Association represents members' interests by proactively engaging central government on emerging policy & issues, responding to consultations and enquiries, and promoting initiatives and research aimed at influencing government policy.

Who is the Commissioning Board?

The Commissioning Board is the strategic oversight group for Live Labs 2. Members are drawn from across the public and private sectors and represent a broad spectrum of the highways and transportation sector with links to many other relevant organisations: ADEPT (Chair), Colas, Construction LCA, County Surveyors’ Society Wales, Department for Infrastructure Northern Ireland, DfT, EY, Innovate UK, Kent County Council, Kier, Leicestershire County Council, Open Data Institute, Ringway, SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS), Transport for London, and WSP.

What was the ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme?

The ADEPT SMART Places Programme was a five-year project examining and developing innovation to enable the adoption of innovative and digital technology across the local highway network. Our commercial partners included SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, 02, Ringway and WSP. With the support of DfT, the partnership launched the two-year £22.9m Live Lab programme in May 2019, with 8 local authority led projects taking place across the country – that included Central Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Kent, Buckinghamshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Reading and Transport for West Midlands. The eight Live Labs piloted innovation across SMART communications, energy, materials, mobility and the environment.  Due to the pandemic, Live Labs 1 is only now concluding.

Who do I contact for further information?

Detailed information can be found in the Prospectus or please contact [email protected] for more information. We are also in the process of setting up a forum to allow potential bidders to form consortia, share ideas and collaborate during the bid process. We will post the link on the Live Labs 2 webpage once in place.

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