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Transforming Construction Network Plus

A new national community to unite and transform the UK construction industry

Abstract collage representing digital construction

How do we transform the way buildings are designed, built, powered, managed and used?

And how can we change the construction sector to address concerns of productivity, skills and user experiences?


With £1m to invest in a raft of new research projects over the next two years, the Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) will mobilise a new movement in the construction community, bringing together experts from a range of disciplines to tackle the most pressing problems across the digital, energy, construction, and manufacturing space.

The vision for N+ is to deliver transformational impact by adopting an integrated approach, situating construction as a production system for built assets that adds value to cities and their infrastructures.

The network will unite academic researchers with industry and policy representatives through networking and skills-building events, creating a new community and body of knowledge to inform future construction policy and practice.

The N+ is a joint project between UCL, Imperial College London and WMG, University of Warwick.    

Objectives | Funding calls | EventsThe Transforming Construction Challenge | People 


Objectives

The aim of the N+ is to provoke, enable and amplify innovation, through four main objectives: 

  • Knowledge: to inform new research and development (R&D) models and government policy that link digital, construction, manufacturing and energy to improve productivity
  • Community building: to advance collaborations through knowledge exchange and debate, beyond what is currently possible 
  • Business models: to produce user-informed, practical resources that accelerate pathways to manufacture and delivery 
  • Investment and legacy: to de-risk and increase construction sector business R&D spend and enable new R&D collaborations that outlive the grant

Funding calls

The N+ provides funding for research projects that aim to address some of the biggest problems currently facing the construction industry. The research supported will focus on the gaps, inter-relationships and under-explored regions of this domain, spanning digital, energy, construction and manufacturing expertise, in line with the expectations of the Industrial Strategy Construction Sector Deal. 

The small projects will unite academics from different universities to synthesise and bring the best existing and new knowledge to the rest of the programme and maximise exposure across industry.

Round 1: Call for Small Projects

The first round of funding calls for Small Projects is now closed. 
Applicants who have submitted a Small project will be notified on Wednesday 1 May 2019 if their application has been successful. 

The first round of funding calls for Small Projects will award projects which address research questions derived from prior academic study or respond to industry need in the Transforming Construction Challenge’s core themes of:

  • designing and managing buildings through digitally-enabled performance management
  • constructing quality buildings through an offsite manufacturing approach
  • reducing energy demand by improving quality of build and powering buildings through embedded active technologies

Projects may start on Wednesday 1 May 2019 and are expected to end on Friday 31 January 2020. 

Find out more about the first round of funding calls for small projects: N+ Round One Small Projects Call Outline [pdf, 546KB].

Round 2: Call for Small Projects

The second call will be launched on 19 September 2019 and projects may start in January 2021.

Events

Webinar: Rethinking the business model for offsite construction

Wednesday 29 May | 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM GMT

Join us for our first webinar and hear about the latest initiatives in the field of business models for offsite construction. 

Featuring Dr Daniel M. Hall and Dr Wei Pan and moderated by Prof Jennifer Whyte, the webinar will explore alternative sustainable business models throughout the world and how they can be implemented in the UK. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with the speakers at the end of the session. 

A recording of the talks and discussion from the webinar will be available to watch online after the live event.

Registration for this webinar will close on Monday 27 May.

Find out more and register

Briefing workshop

The first N+ briefing workshop took place in London and Manchester in early February. Representatives from Innovate UK, ESRC, UCL Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management, Imperial College London and University of Warwick provided more information about the N+ project and the funding. 

A recording of talks and discussion from the N+ briefing workshop - held in London on 12 February - is available to watch online.

Learn more about the briefing workshops and watch the recording 

The Transforming Construction Challenge

The Transforming Construction Network Plus is one of the investments in the Transforming Construction Challenge - the UK government’s challenge to the construction industry and research communities  to make buildings more affordable, efficient, safer and healthier.

The N+ is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), an investment supported by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). The overall aim of these investments is to transform the way the construction and built environment sector operates. The support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is gratefully acknowledged.

Learn more:

People

The N+ is led and managed by The Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment, with co-investigators and staff from Imperial College London and WMG, University of Warwick.

Professor Jacqui Glass, Principal Investigator

Chair of Construction Management, The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management, UCL

Professor Jacqueline Glass is Chair in Construction Management at UCL. She joined UCL in July 2018, following her academic posts at Loughborough University and Oxford Brookes University. 

Prof Glass was previously Director of the Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering at Loughborough University, where she developed her specialism in sustainability management in construction – from site to factory. She has a track record in responsible and ethical sourcing, which relates to material and product supply chains. Having founded the Action Programme for Responsible and Ethical Sourcing (APRES) in 2010, much of her research has focused on the implementation of responsible sourcing, so she is familiar with manufacturing, construction, and service firms and their operating practices.

She has published over 150 papers, secured over £6m of funding (from research councils and industry) and supervised more than 20 doctoral students to completion. Jacqueline’s research has spanned strategy, procurement, standards, values, and accounting for sustainability. Many of her research projects have been supported by industrial partners, including global materials companies and consultancies. She is well known for her extensive industry networks and engagement with practitioners, and is the Principal Investigator of the new Transforming Construction Network Plus.

Professor Andrew Davies, Co-Investigator

Chair in the Management of Projects, The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management, UCL

Professor Andrew Davies is Professor of the Management of Projects at UCL. His published research has focused on how innovation occurs in complex product systems, project-based firms and organisations, systems integration, and integrated solutions business models.

Prof Davies is Visiting Professor, Department of Business and Management, LUISS, Rome. Previously he was Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Department of Leadership and Organisation, Norwegian Business School and Reader in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group, Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London, where he was a co-director of the EPSRC Innovation Studies Centre and theme leader of research on innovation in infrastructure projects and systems. Before that he was a Senior Fellow in SPRU, University of Sussex, where he was deputy director of the ESRC Complex Product Systems Innovation Centre.

Professor Jan Godsell, Co-Investigator

Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy, WMG at the University of Warwick

Professor Jan Godsell's research focus is on the way that product, marketing and supply chain strategy align to create a responsive or demand-driven approach to supply chain management. She joined WMG in October 2013 from her prior position of Senior Lecturer at Cranfield University School of Management.

Prof Godsell's career has been split between both industry and academia. She joined the faculty of Cranfield in 2001, following the completion of her Executive MBA there. She also completed her PhD at Cranfield, researching the development of a customer responsive supply chain.

Prior to her return to academia, Professor Godsell developed a successful career within industry, beginning at ICI/Zeneca Pharmaceuticals. Following this, she worked up to senior management level at Dyson, in both Supply Chain and Operations Management functions. At Dyson, she undertook a number of operational and process improvement roles within R&D, customer logistics, purchasing and manufacturing.

Professor Paul Ruyssevelt, Co-Investigator

Chair of Energy and Building Performance, The Bartlett Energy Institute, UCL

Professor Paul Ruyssevelt joined the UCL Energy Institute in January 2012 to take up the chair in Energy and Building Performance and lead the institute's activities in the field of non-domestic buildings.

Prof Ruyssevelt is an architect with 30 years experience in the field of low energy and sustainable buildings. In 1984 he designed a group of superinsulated houses which he went on to help build, live in and monitor for three years. He has run an energy monitoring company and, for ten years, managed the energy team at the major engineering consultancy. He was UK Managing Director at Energy for Sustainable Development Ltd from 1999 and in 2008 he became Strategic Projects Director for ESD’s parent Camco, an international company working across all sectors in the fields of carbon, climate change, sustainable energy and sustainability.   

Prior to joining UCL, Prof Ruyssevelt worked with the Technology Strategy Board to support the reporting and dissemination of the Retrofit for the Future programme and the Energy Efficient Whitehall programme.

Professor Jennifer Whyte, Co-Investigator

Laing O'Rourke/RAEng Chair in Systems Integration, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London

Professor Jennifer Whyte's research focus is on systems integration in civil infrastructure. The vision is of developing next-generation tools for and approaches for systems integration, where infrastructure projects are organizationally complex and deliver both physical assets and digital asset information. This research supports the transformation to an advanced manufacturing industry with digital engineering capabilities, with decision-support tools for engineers and managers working on complex engineering projects.

Prof Whyte is Director of the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation (CSEI) at Imperial College London. CSEI aims to bring systems engineering and innovation to built infrastructure, drawing together researchers from across disciplines. The centre’s research themes are production systems, infrastructure interdependencies and the transition from project to operation.


Image: detail from Post digital construction © Keith Walker 

construction transformative technologies digital networks ESRC