Innovati­on and Technology

Innovation, research, and development are an important part of IRCA’s operations. Funds are granted annually to research projects, mostly financed by so-called experimental funds, which, according to the Road Act, shall be 1.5% of the assigned revenue of the institution. Calls of applications for grants for research and development projects are issued in the beginning of each year.

Applications for grants for the year 2024

IRCA provides grants annually for research projects. We are now open for applications for grants and/or financing of individual projects for year 2024. Applications must be submitted before midnight on Friday 2 February 2024.

Information on the processing of applications will be published on My Pages when it is available, likely before mid-March 2024. Notifications will be sent to the e-mails of applicants and the project managers specified in the applications.

Calls of applications for grants for the year 2024

Enquiries can be sent by e-mail to Ólafur Sveinn Haraldsson, Research Department Director,

Research and development

The IRCA participates in multifaceted foreign collaboration in the field of research and development. In addition, employees of IRCA participate in various conferences and forums abroad, where they seek knowledge that they disseminate within the institute and outside. Icelandic matters are presented abroad and articles are published in international journals.

Further information about the research and development of IRCA is provided by Guðmundur Valur Guðmundsson, Managing Director of Development and Ólafur Sveinn Haraldsson, Director.

The Research Policy of IRCA

The work of IRCA’s research fund takes account of the institution’s role, goals, and future vision. The need for research and projects are analysed and prioritised systematically with the emphasis on research efficiency.

Focus is placed on practical research and development, as well as participation in basic research relevant to the institution’s operations.

The goals of the research fund are to:

  • Initiate research and development that promotes IRCA’s ability to carry out its role
  • Gather new knowledge and implement into IRCA’s operations
  • Promote cooperation between the parties that are responsible for and conduct research in the field of IRCA
  • Promote new talent within disciplines that are connected to IRCA’s operations by collaborating with university institutions
  • Present research and conclusions

Foreign collaboration

The objectives of IRCA’s participation in international collaboration in the field of research and development, include gathering knowledge and experience, keeping track of developments and implement to Iceland, promote our knowledge and experience, and in collaboration with the Icelandic Research Fund (Rannís,) to raise capital for research from EU funds.

The IRCA participates in the following foreign collaboration in the field of research and development:

NVF (Nordisk Vejforum – The Nordic Road Association)

NVF is the international association that IRCA has worked the most with. The main part of the NVF work takes place in committees and the goal is to promote collaboration and information exchange between professionals in the Nordic Countries in the field of transport. From 2016-2020, 10 committees will be in operation. Iceland is a participant in almost all of these committees. Committees often change between each four-year term, however, most often there are working committees specialised in e.g. bridges, tunnels, design, road technology, maintenance and services, and traffic safety Iceland is a participant in all of these committees and alongside operates Icelandic versions of the committees. Finland directs the work of NVF in the term of 2024-2028, after which Iceland will direct NFV, at the end of which a large transport conference, ViaNordica2032, will be held in Iceland.

NordFoU (Co-operation between the national Nordic road and transport administrations)

In December 2004, an agreement was signed between the Road Administrations in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland (the Faeroe Islands joined in 2014,) and the agreement was extended in November 2023.   The agreement involves that the participating countries work in collaboration towards certain designated research projects and handle the financing using their own funds. The projects are chosen by a specific governing board, consisting of the research directors of each institution. Two countries or more can conduct individual projects and the decision to participate is made by each institution individually. A special agreement is made regarding each project, where a project description, project group, and project manager, financial obligations and more, are specified. Projects can both be done within or outside of the institutions. Results will be available for all five nations.

CEDR (Conference of European Directors of Roads) is an association of European Road Administrations. The association has the goal to promote development in road transport, create connections, work on mutual challenges, and take part in development within the EU and in Europe in general, regarding road transport in the wider sense. IRCA was among the founding entities of CEDR in 2003 (when two associations; Western European Road Directors (WERD) and Deputy European Road Directors (DERD) were merged.) Iceland lead the association in 2006. Annually, the association formulates an operational plan for a three-year term at a time.

PIARC (World Road Association)

IRCA is a part of this international association, which is the mother association of NVF and is structured n a similar way. The role of PIARC is primarily to disseminate knowledge regarding roads and road transport.

PIANC (The World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure)

The goal of PIANC is to create the foundation to gather specialised knowledge regarding economical, dependable, and durable structures, necessary to meet the growth of transport at sea. IRCA participates in the work of the association, i.e. by participating in NORDPianc, which is the collaboration of the Nordic countries within PIANC.

NR&TR (Nordic Road & Transport Research)

Nordic is a Nordic magazine, published in English, that is meant to promote road and transportation research in the international arena. IRCA has a representative on the editorial team and participates in the publication by covering Icelandic transport research.

The ROADEX project is a technical collaborative platform of road administrations in Northern Europe, that has the goal to share information on roads and road research between the participating countries. The project is partially funded by the EU, the Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) INTEREG IIB.

Research projects

According to the Road Act, effective from 1 January 2008, 1.5% of assigned revenue shall be used for research and experiments in road building managed by IRCA.

IRCA’s head of research oversees the field, and the CEO of the institution appoints an advisory board, that consults with the ministry on the allocation of funds for research projects and the arrangement of research.

The main allotment from the fund occurs early each year, while applications for funding can happen at other times. Even though a large portion of the funds goes to projects within IRCA, an emphasis is now placed on financing projects that originate and/or are carried through elsewhere, such as within universities, various companies, and even by individuals. There is also history of financial participation in international projects.

In the recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of applications, prompting IRCA to seek further measures to better utilise this limited financial resource.


When preparing for road building, rather extensive geological research is often needed and it is the role of IRCA’s geology department to work on strategic planning, organisation, and the execution of that research. Research relates in particular to mining, material, soil and bedrock due to work on environmental impact assessment and tender documents for road and bridge construction, as well as preparation for tunnel construction. For this purpose, IRCA operates a research laboratory, carrying out the most common testing of minerals for road construction.

IRCA has gathered information on and mapped mines in the county, both mines that have previously been used by IRCA, as well as mines owned by other parties. Following this work, IRCA has launched an initiative on the clean-up of abandoned mine sites that the institution is responsible for. This is in accordance with provisions of the nature conservation Act that state that abandoned mine sites shall not be left unattended for longer than 3 years.

IRCA operates a data bank, storing the results of the most relevant mineral research that has been conducted in relation to road construction.

Guidelines on the usage of blasted rock in road construction can be found in the material quality paper in the database.