£7 million Infrastructure Business Model Centres to engineer future UK
29 May 2013
Two new centres that will help shape the way the UK's future infrastructure is planned and implemented were officially launched this week today during an event at the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) in London.
Announced by Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, the UCL and Newcastle-based centres have been set up as part of the National Infrastructure Plan, published by the Government in 2011, with funding of £7 million from two of the UK's research councils, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Professor Brian Collins (UCL Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy) will lead on the International Centre for Infrastructure Futures (ICIF), based at UCL and in collaboration with 22 partners including Virgin Media, Gatwick Airport and Wessex Water. At Newcastle University, Professor Richard Dawson will lead i-BUILD: Infrastructure Business models, valuation and Innovation for Local Delivery.
Both centres will fulfil the role, as set out in the National Infrastructure Plan, of catalysing and informing the national debate about the future of the UK's infrastructure. They will also identify how to deliver infrastructure, and the services it provides, to stimulate jobs and economic growth but also deliver wider environmental and social value.
Drawing on major utility and industrial partners, the centres will create a shared, facilitated learning environment in which social scientists, engineers, industrialists, policy makers and other stakeholders can research and learn together. In turn, this will help them to better understand the technical and market opportunities that emerge from the increased interdependence of infrastructure systems.
The centres will focus on the development and implementation of innovative business models, from the local to the national scale, and aim to support UK firms wishing to exploit them in national and international markets.
Professor Brian Collins, Centre Director for ICIF, said: "The vision of the International Centre for Infrastructure Futures (ICIF) is to achieve through research and experimentation a major improvement in policy making and commercialisation of future infrastructure provision. This will encompass the full life cycle from design to operation of all infrastructure activities and will use a novel multidisciplinary approach to value capture and the generation of new business models. A systems-thinking rationale will be applied to all relevant aspects of infrastructure provision, especially dealing with interdependencies and data gathering. This will result in accelerated and embedded learning in government practices and regulations, in commercial activities and in academic and professional teaching."