A consortium of North East organisations has been shortlisted for the chance to secure up to £50m to boost the region’s economy by becoming a global hub for “connected construction”.
Led by Northumbria University, the International Centre for Connected Construction (IC3) is one of just 17 projects from around the country that will receive £50,000 in government seed corn funding.
The funding will enable the project team to prepare a detailed bid for up to £50m from UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund – a competitive scheme to support significant local economic growth using a place-based approach to research and innovation funding.
IC3 is designed to attract more investment, skills, and jobs to the region. It proposes to provide a range of interventions to build on the “impressive reputation of the North East as a hotbed of innovation in digital construction”, and will be a “global hub for the creation and dissemination of knowledge and understanding about connected construction”.
IC3 will focus on three main areas to underpin more effective and collaborative ways of working that lead to better outcomes for businesses, occupants, society, and the environment.
It will “transform the way buildings are procured to ensure lifetime value in social and environmental terms rather than lowest cost, and implement recommendations from the post-Grenfell Hackitt Review”. It also aims to improve the performance of buildings to ensure they are sustainable, healthy and safe places to live and work.
IC3 plans to work with partners across the construction industry over the course of the next five years on 15 demonstrator projects that “incorporate and exemplify the digital technologies and processes developed through IC3”. The projects will include tourism and leisure, social housing, hospitals and infrastructure.
Alongside this, IC3 will provide support to around 100 businesses in its first three years and will work to create up to 20 new businesses in the same period, helping to develop new products, services, and processes.
Connecting industry and academia
The consortium will also lead on collaborative research projects between industry and academia, and will work towards reforming and revitalising education for construction, through the creation of new programmes that will upskill the existing workforce and inspire the next generation.
The IC3 consortium is led by Northumbria University, in partnership with Arup, BIM Academy Cundall, Dynamo North East, NBS, Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, North Star Ventures, Ryder Architecture, Space Group, Waterstons and Womble Bond Dickinson.
Professor Andrew Wathey CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University, said: “[This news] highlights the critical role the North East will play in leading a digital revolution in the construction industry. The scale of activity planned by IC3 will place the region at the forefront of excellence for digital construction with global impact.”
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