This page relates to the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme.


Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency's policy on innovations, trials and pilots funding.

Date of issue: June 2023 | Investment policies will be reviewed every three years or when a new Government Policy Statement on land transport is released.

We (Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency as investor) have allocated $15 million over two years for   innovations, trials and pilots to support the private sector to develop and accelerate innovative solutions that will help to solve some of our biggest transport challenges.  We will also be available to support and guide the development of these innovations, trials and pilots.   

Hoe ki angitū - Innovation Fund


This policy identifies the circumstances in which innovations, trials or pilots may be funded from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

Definition of terms

The following definitions are used in the context of this policy:

  • Innovation: the action or process of innovating that provides new ways of responding to transport problems, including applying traditional knowledge in new ways to address transport issues and opportunities.
  • Pilot: an activity planned as the first phase of a trial to inform the development of a proposal for a full trial; the focus is on assessing the feasibility of an approach to be used in a trial.
  • Trial: small scale implementation to test the performance, scalability, costs and benefits, qualities, or suitability of a potential solution.

Policy statement

We will consider investing in an innovation, pilot or trial where:

  • there is an existing information/knowledge gap
  • it can provide business cases with provisional solutions and information that can inform the choice and design of the preferred solution
  • there is a need to prove a concept and/or build community support before committing to permanent solutions and/or improvements
  • it can assist in reducing risks associated with the delivery of large-scale permanent solutions
  • it is part of a low-cost, low-risk programme
  • it constitutes a temporary activity or interim intervention as part of physical works, technology or marketing activities
  • there is an application for a contestable fund for innovative activities.

Funding for innovations, trials, and pilots

For the 2021–24 National Land Transport Programme we will consider funding innovation, pilot and trial activities as follows:

  • for approved organisations and Waka Kotahi (for its own activities) including, but not limited to the following:through the relevant low-cost, low-risk programme and its associated work category 341 for activities up to the low-cost, low-risk threshold ($2 million) per activity
    Work category 341: Low-cost, low-risk improvements
  • minor service trials consistent with the relevant regional public transport plan for passenger transport services are funded through the approved allocation for passenger transport operations from the public transport services activity class.
    Public transport services and infrastructure

An innovation, trial or pilot that has a value exceeding the low-cost, low-risk threshold may be included as part of the business case phase as part of the cost of developing the business case and option design and selection. The cost for this must be reasonable in the context of developing the business case and the overall cost. 

Assessment of innovation, trial, and pilot activities

We will assess the value for money proposition of an innovation, trial or pilot activity, having regard to:

  • the use of the data or information expected to be gained
  • the benefits arising during the period of implementation
  • the reasonableness of the costs involved
  • the quality of the evaluation plan and likelihood that it will be carried out successfully
  • whether reversal is both easy and not cost prohibitive.


Excluded from innovations, trials and pilots funding are:

  • innovations, trials and pilots for data and evidence that are already well known
  • retrospective innovations, trials and pilots.