The companies were chosen from 109 applicants, and will receive rent-free work space, as well as commercial and technical support.

The firms will begin HS2 development work from this month. After six months, the firms’ work will be showcased and pitched to investors and businesses involved in the HS2 supply chain.

The five winning applicants are:

  • Buildots, which develops wearable camera technology employing artificial intelligence (AI) and a digital user interface to automate the tracking of construction progress compared with design and schedule
  • Sensat, which has developed a cloud-based platform to capture and track infrastructure project data while employing 3D visualisation software to enable engineers to monitor projects remotely, reducing the need for frequent site visits
  • Cloudcycle, which develops sensors for cement mixers to monitor the quality and properties of the concrete being mixed using real-time data management to optimise the use of concrete. It estimates that the technology could reduce concrete demand by up to 420,000 tonnes for HS2
  • Dendra, which employs drone and AI technologies to monitor plant conditions, which could be used to help plant and maintain the 225km ‘green corridor’ of seven million trees and shrubs which HS2 intends to plant along its route, and
  • NatureMetrics, which develops biodiversity monitoring kits to sequence DNA into usable ecological information and tracks how habitats change, which could also be used to monitor the condition of the HS2 green corridor.

“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,” says Mr Howard Mitchell, HS2 Ltd’s head of innovation.

“The size and scale of HS2 creates the perfect environment to encourage innovation and develop technologies that can create long-term business opportunities both in and beyond the rail sector.”

HS2 Ltd has now launched applications for the second round of the programme, which will focus on small and medium-sized firms specialising in the fields of process inefficiencies and passenger experience in stations. The deadline to apply is September 18.

The news follows the announcement of a partnership between HS2 Ltd and Britain’s UK Rail Research and Innovation Network (UKRRIN) research group on August 18, which will enable HS2 to access to technologies developed by the group for use on the project.