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Innovation boost of £36m: Government is offering R&D funding for transforming construction bids

By Sarah Hall

Here at Invennt, we believe that when done right construction can be a force for good that improves peoples’ wellbeing and has a positive impact on the economy.

That is why we are pleased to see and hope to be involved in, the latest government-backed drive to improve productivity and performance in the industry.

The government has created two new competitions for businesses to bid in with a fund of £36m for new collaborative R&D projects. The competitions are focused on modern construction methods as well as digital and whole-asset performance. UK Research and Innovation is supplying funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Transforming Construction Challenge.

These competitions help give a major boost into innovation within the construction industry. In the past there have been several other competitions like this run by other government-funded programs such as; EPSRC’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for £5m; Increase productivity, performance and quality in the UK for £13.5m and ESRC’s ISCF Transforming Construction Network Plus for £2.5m.

 

 

The £13.5m program for R&D done to Increase productivity, performance and quality in the UK resulted in some innovative projects being completed.

A notable one was for schools, the SEISMIC Project. This project saw the redesigning of steel frames for school buildings, which was standardised across two major suppliers. Those two suppliers were originally in competition with each other, and after collaborating on this project they had incredible results in creating that standardisation.

This resulted in:

  • 40% reduction in cost
  • 52% faster assembly
  • 57% reduction in weight
  • 40% reduction in emissions
  • Exports being used over seas

The market uptake on this project was:

  • Steel frame on Gen. 5 procurement framework for DfE
  • Interest for other building types
  • Digital configurator
  • Will extend to other components

This project was successfully funded through the competition process.

These are the kinds of innovative projects that are genuinely transforming the industry. The skills that they have produced are directly linked with the potential to apply this kind of platform design onto the next generation of schools.

With these new competitions with a government backing of £36m you have a chance to be funded and create an impact in the UK construction industry.

The details of the new competitions are as follows:

Competition 1: Transforming UK construction – collaborative R&D.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £10m in UK businesses undertaking collaborative research and development projects. Projects should go beyond the state-of-the-art in improving productivity, quality, and performance of the UK construction sector.

The project must focus on one or more of the following themes:

  • Digital information management, tools, systems, and standards;
  • Modern methods of construction and platform-based approaches;
  • Whole-life asset performance, including active buildings;
  • Business models, procurement, analytics, benchmarking, and metrics;
  • Financial, assurance, warranty, and lending products.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • Be a UK registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation;
  • Collaborate with other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations, academic institutions, or charities;
  • Include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise;
  • Carry out the project work in the UK;
  • Intend to exploit the results from, or within, the UK.

You should demonstrate how your project will deliver on the Transforming Construction Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund themes and the commitments detailed in the Construction Sector Deal. This must include significant industry investment (some exclusions will apply, refer to Projects we will not fund). Applicants should state how their projects will support the objectives of the Transforming Infrastructure Performance(TIP) strategy or the Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (TIES) as appropriate.

The total eligible costs for the project be between £150,000 and £1.5m.

Competition 2: Transforming UK construction demonstrator projects.

There is a share of up to £26m that UK businesses can apply for. This will cover practical, demonstrator projects in modern methods of construction, digital and whole-life asset performance. This competition aims to invest in world-leading practical demonstrators, and their aim is to invest in ten demonstrators. They must show improvements in productivity, quality, and performance of the UK construction sector.

This funding is from the Transforming Construction Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, part of the Construction Sector Deal.

Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes:

  • Digital information management, tools, systems, and standards
  • Modern methods of construction (MMC) and platform-based approaches
  • Whole-life asset performance, including active buildings
  • Business models, procurement, analytics, benchmarking, and metrics
  • Financial, assurance, warranty, and lending products

You should demonstrate how your project will deliver on the Transforming Construction Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund themes and the commitments detailed in the Construction Sector Deal. This must include significant industry investment (some exclusions will apply, refer to Projects we will not fund). Applicants should state how their projects will support the objectives of the Transforming Infrastructure Performance(TIP) strategy or the Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (TIES) as appropriate.

Both above competitions open for submission on 28 August, and close at midday on 30 October. The competition closes at midday 12pm GMT time on 30 October. They ask that you please ensure to submit it well before the deadline, as in the past many submitted had waited until the last minute, and so their submission failed.

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