Transforming Construction Network Plus briefing workshops encourage innovation and collaboration
1 March 2019
After opening the first round of funding calls for Small Projects, the Transforming Construction Network Plus organised its first briefing workshops on 12-13 February in London and Manchester.
The first Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) briefing workshops took place in London and Manchester in February. The two events brought together more than 100 academic, research and business representatives to hear about the first funding call for Small Projects, which is now open for applications.
Representatives from Innovate UK, ESRC, the Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management, Imperial College London and WMG, University of Warwick provided more information about the N+ project and the funding.
Tackling the big societal and industrial challenges
The briefing workshops began with presentations about the Industrial Strategy and funding for transforming the construction industry.
Aiming to solve the “UK’s productivity puzzle”, the Industrial Strategy is the government’s long-term plan to raise productivity and earning power in the UK. By investing in the very best research, development and innovation, the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund brings together our world-leading research base with Britain’s best businesses to transform how we live, work and move around.
Part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is the Transforming Construction Challenge which aims to transform the construction sector – enabling it to produce safe, healthy, efficient building using the latest digital manufacturing techniques. The speakers highlighted the motivation for the Transforming Construction Challenge; by creating buildings in the same way for many decades, the construction industry has not seen the same increases in productivity as other sectors.
As part of its programme, the Transforming Construction Challenge is funding the Transforming Construction Network Plus, which is delivered by the Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management at UCL, Imperial College London and WMG, University of Warwick.
Ben Kidd, Engagement manager, commented:
''This really is an exciting time for research and innovation to aid in transforming the construction industry. Although the N+ is in its infancy, the briefing workshops were extremely promising in showing how an expanded community of researchers and stakeholders is coming together representing construction, manufacturing, energy and digital themes. While there were many of the usual discussions and references to the Latham and Egan reports from the 1990s, it was clear from the workshops that lots of new ideas, knowledge, skills and expertise exist to truly transform the sector. I personally had a number of very encouraging discussions with participants that I look forward to building on through future engagement in the N+. I would encourage everyone to register with the N+ and engage with the many different activities that are planned over the next couple of years (and beyond!)''
Stimulating participation, facilitating collaboration and encouraging exploration
Concluding the morning session, Principal Investigator Professor Jacqueline Glass shared information about the N+ and the funding opportunities available.
The N+ aims to unite construction’s academic and industrial communities to create a new research and knowledge base, dedicated to address the systemic problems holding back the sector. The N+ will fund projects which address research questions derived from prior academic study or respond to industry need, within 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
Reflecting on the event, Professor Glass said:
''It was really positive to see so many universities and other stakeholders represented. We had so many excellent conversations about the scope, scale and ambition of the Transforming Construction Challenge. I was particularly encouraged to see so many early career researchers, and hear about people’s ideas about what might help the industry to transform. There was plenty of time for networking, and it was clear that many of the participants made good use of the discussion time available to forge new collaborations, debate their initial reactions to the Call, and also to check in with the N+ team about any queries they had. I was pleased by the overall positive reaction from the academic community and look forward to receiving some fascinating project proposals.”
A recording of talks and discussion from the N+ briefing workshop - held in London on 12 February - is available to watch online:
- Professor Jacqueline Glass, N+ Principal Investigator and Chair of Construction Management, UCL Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management
- Simon Hart, Head of Construction, Innovate UK, Transforming Construction ISCF Programme
- Dr Adam Luqmani, Senior Portfolio Manager, Interdisciplinarity and Impact Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Professor Jennifer Whyte, N+ Co-Investigator and Laing O'Rourke/RAEng Chair in Systems Integration, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London
- Mark Wray, Knowledge Transfer Manager Buildings & Infrastructure, Knowledge Transfer Network
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