Investing in Innovation

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Earlier this month, the Transforming Construction Network Plus launched a new round of funding for innovations in digital, offsite and eco-friendly technology.

The programme will provide up to £600,000 for small research projects, in line with the expectations of the Industrial Strategy and the Transforming Construction Challenge. The programme will support research projects focused on designing and managing buildings through digitally enabled performance management, offsite manufacturing and reducing energy demand by improving quality of build. The Transforming Construction Challenge, which is backed by £170m in research and innovation investment, matched by £250m from industry, was set up to create new construction processes and techniques. The aims of the challenge are for the industry to achieve the governments targets in the 2025 Construction Strategy – reduction in construction costs by a third, 50% improvement in trade balance and 50% reductions in speed and carbon emissions.

We’ve already made a lot of progress and with even more funding being made available for research, innovation and development projects, we’re going from strength to strength in transforming the industry. It couldn’t come at a better time either as we simply cannot deliver the infrastructure and homes that the country needs in the way that we’re operating now and unless things change, we have no hope of hitting the 2025 targets.

We’re all working towards the same goal of what the Industrial Strategy set out last year. In July 2018, the government published the Construction Sector Deal which revealed how government procurement will drive change in the design and assembly of buildings, how the skills challenges faced by the industry will be addressed. It set out what it believes to be the foundations for an ambitious partnership between the government and industry to transform the sector into one that can; build new homes in weeks or days, deliver new buildings at a third of the cost and provide affordable, energy efficient homes. I think everyone is finally on the same page when it comes to innovation and what the industry needs to do, we just need to pull together to maximise the potential for Transforming Construction in the very near future.

Constructing Excellence in the North East are hosting the 2019 North East Construction Summit – Driving the Need for Change next week (Wednesday 2nd October), where the focus will be on innovation, skills and zero-waste in design, materials and time. I must admit, it’s been quite embarrassing how much we’ve struggled with innovation in the past, so it’s promising to see how things are improving, although I’m not getting ahead of myself, there’s still a lot of work to be done – I’m certainly up to the challenge, are you?   

For more information on the North East Construction Summit, please Grace Collinson, on 0191 500 7880 or email grace@cene.org.uk.