UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


Research in National Economic Infrastructure

High quality infrastructure is essential for supporting productivity growth.

1 September 2017

Delivering the right infrastructure at a local, city, regional and national level across the UK, is critical to the government’s long-term national industrial strategy.

This research into national economic infrastructure was carried out in a UCL International Centre for Infrastructures project (ICIF). It was jointly funded by EPSRC and ESRC and was completed in 2017. It provided evidence for the need for systemic consideration of all aspects of infrastructure investments, the importance of resilience, the rich interdependency between sectors and functions, project management, finance and funding, engineering and digital.

Research outcomes include the potential for data and information management to enable new business models, to provide vehicles for sustainable value capture when combined with sustained organisation learning and at the same time to change the nature of the risks. The research also provided the basis for UK government guidance now in place to improve guidance for large public sector infrastructure projects (known as ‘The Green Book’) with regard to interdependency – an impact that had been anticipated in the original proposal.

The research has also provided a substantial fraction of the evidence that justified the significant investment now being made by the UK government in university resources and laboratories to accelerate and enlarge UK research programmes in national economic infrastructure. This programme, the Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), is convened by CEGE. It will ensure the collaboration of 13 UK universities at a scale of research not seen for decades.

The value extracted by services using current methods of investment in and operation of national economic infrastructure, clean energy, effective transport, water conservation, waste management and exploitation of the digital revolution is insufficient and unsustainable. The ownership costs of infrastructure platforms is unaffordable. The vision of UKCRIC, enabled by prior research and evidence, is to create, operate and coordinate a national and international transdisciplinary research programme to address these issues, in a partnership between industry, government and academia.