A network of innovation and R&D organisations and universities that help the construction industry build smarter has been launched by the Supply Chain School, working with Build Offsite.
Named the Smart Construction Network, it provides a free and easy to use tool that locates these centres of excellence (https://www.smartconstructionnetwork.org.uk).
More than 20 organisations are already part of the network, including the Manufacturing Technology Centre, National Composites Centre, and Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, and the Universities of Cambridge, Reading, Salford, and Huddersfield.
The network is a response to a Construction Leadership Council review that identified a need for centres of excellence to support the uptake of smart construction techniques, materials, and processes among construction suppliers, subcontractors, and contractors.
Housing Forum chief executive Shelagh Grant is the chair of the network. She said: “We know there are many construction businesses out there that would like to make the journey towards smarter construction, but are perhaps uncertain about how and where to begin that journey.
“Across the Smart Construction Network, our members offer an extensive range of world-leading expertise. In collaborating to create this free digital resource, we want to help accelerate the pace of transformation in our sector by making it easier for businesses of all sizes to identify and access the type of expertise and support that is right for them.”
At the launch of the network, Construction Innovation Hub programme director Keith Waller said: “Collaboration between the universities and research centres that are leading innovation in our sector is essential to help construction businesses accelerate and focus their investment on R&D. The Smart Construction Network provides a simple, quick and easily accessible way for businesses to find those centres with the right knowledge local to them.”
The network should help the industry address the government’s goal to “build back better”, which will require improved skills, processes, techniques, and materials to achieve higher performing buildings and infrastructure.
Ian Heptonstall, director of the Supply Chain School, commented: “Build back better is a great phrase, but to do this, we as an industry need to do things differently. That means we need to innovate and invest in research and development. The Smart Construction Network will allow businesses large and small to engage with the organisations leading the thinking in innovative construction techniques, materials, and processes. Through this knowledge and collaboration, we hope to see an acceleration in innovation.”