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April 12, 2024

Stakeholder Perspectives: The Future of Roads Event

On February 27th, 2024, we convened an action-packed conference of thought leaders who share a vision of a future for roads that is safe, efficient and sustainable. Meghan Hunt organized the event on behalf of HG Ventures and provides key takeaways from the day.

Meghan Hunt, Platform Manager at HG Ventures

We’ve been talking about The Future of Roads for over a year and it was incredible to see this event come to life. We wanted to keep the conversation going following our Future of Roads report published last November, and we shaped the agenda around many of those topics.

To ensure we put on a successful and well-rounded event, we worked closely with experts across Heritage Construction + Materials (HC+M) and The Heritage Group, who we often collaborate with for diligence, pilot opportunities, mentorship, incubation support and more. The enduring value these relationships bring to the New Ventures team is vital. HC+M has always embraced new technologies and we continue to work together to do our part in accelerating infrastructure innovation.

Our shared goal was to address road infrastructure challenges and opportunities with a diverse group of stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and leaders across government and the private sector. Speakers talked about more sustainable and durable materials, the incorporation of electrification, management of autonomous vehicles, technologies to improve flow and reduce traffic accidents, and artificial intelligence.

The event also allowed us to shine a light on how entrepreneurs are disrupting the status quo, featuring several of our infrastructure-related startups (Pretred, Valerann, and Avenew). The connections made and the resulting potential opportunities have exceeded my expectations, and the feedback from attendees has been phenomenal.

For anyone interested in this conversation around road materials and technologies, we’ve compiled a Future of Roads event summary, which we’ve released as a supplement to our Future of Roads report. The following takeaways are an excerpt from the event summary:

  • A lack of funding is a major challenge. With fuel tax revenues diminishing, states are having to find new ways to fund infrastructure. While there will likely be a record number of federal transportation initiatives announced this year, there is unlikely to be any additional major federal funding for infrastructure for another 5-10 years. Technology has a vital part to play, with collaboration necessary between government agencies and the private sector.
  • But innovation is happening. Many state DOTs are partnering with technology firms to trial innovations including smart infrastructure, data analytics, autonomous vehicles, alternative materials, and the use of drones, all with the aim of improving both safety and sustainability, while minimizing congestion. Digital tools are transformational in maintaining the roads of the future, from policy through construction.
  • Startups are driving innovation. In many cases, startups are leading the way, innovating in areas as diverse as data analytics, sustainability, and funding and project management. Public-private partnerships and further collaboration between the tolling industry and tech companies could improve infrastructure solutions, advance transportation technologies, and improve data utilization.
  • Improving the sustainability of road construction and maintenance is a goal shared across the industry. 94% of U.S. roadways are made from asphalt, which is the country’s most recycled material. Major corporate road users such as FedEx are linking sustainability to business goals and making investments in electric vehicles, sustainable fuels and renewable energy sources.
  • Indiana races ahead. Indianapolis is the racing capital of the world, so it is no surprise that innovation fuels organizations like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Andretti Global.
  • This is just the start. Attendees left energized about future collaboration to bring about a better future for our roads.

This event was all about building relationships to help move the industry forward. We can’t wait to see where this road takes us.