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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

Round 1: Call for Small Projects

The first round of funding calls for Small Projects is now open for applications. 

Funding is available for 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

Key documents

Completed application forms should be emailed to enquiries.tcnetworkplus@ucl.ac.uk by 16:00 on Friday 29 March 2019. 

Important dates for Round 1

  • Closing time and date for applications: 16:00, Friday 29 March 2019
  • Funding decision: Thursday 25 April 2019
  • Projects may start from: Wednesday 1 May 2019
  • Expected end date for Round 1 Projects: Friday 31 January 2020

Events

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. The webcast of the briefing workshop in London is now available on YouTube.

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