EU-funded BIM workshops for south-east SMEs

SMEs in the south-east struggling to gain a foothold in BIM can now sign up to a scheme to help them plan and implement an appropriate strategy.

FutureFit Built Assets is a two-year programme, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, being delivered by the South East Centre for the Built Environment (SECBE).

It aims to help SME firms, including builders, consultants and others in the supply chain, improve their skills in BIM and understand the Government Soft Landings concept, which seeks to bridge the gap between the predicted and actual energy use.

Although details are still being finalised, FutureFit will aim to convey the benefits of collaborating in BIM by connecting groups of individual supply chain firms as well as existing supply chains under large contractors. A total of 250 firms will be involved, with more intensive work targeted at around 115 companies.

Help will be provided through general workshops covering various topics identified as barriers to firms getting involved with BIM. A smaller number of firms will receive a business needs assessment to help understand their BIM needs, and some of these will receive one-to-one support from a consultant who will help devise a BIM strategy and implementation plan.

Other partners in the project include BSRIA, the Clarkson Alliance, the CIOB, Oxford Brookes University, the National Federation of Builders, and East Sussex County Council.

The CIOB will be marketing the scheme to members, and knowledge and expertise from its BIM special interest groups will help inform the programme’s development.

“The SECBE held recent introductory workshops on BIM and it became very obvious that a lot of firms want to get involved but are not sure how to move forward with it,” said Tina McGeachan, head of business development at SECBE. “We decided to form a collaboration to bid for ERDF funds to provide more intensive help for SMEs.

“Our main goal is to demonstrate that working with BIM isn’t that different to how people work now. You’re still working with drawings and schedules of purchases etc, it’s just the technology provides a much more efficient and open way of sharing that information. Many firms think understanding the technology is the man barrier, but it’s much more about behavioural changes, learning to work collaboratively in a more joined up way. BIM is just another project management tool designed to share information in a more technological environment.”

The scheme is open to businesses in the south-east regions of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex and will be promoted through four roadshow events during October.

Government Soft Landings is a building procurement initiative developed by BSRIA and the Usable Buildings Trust whereby designers and constructors stay involved with buildings beyond practical completion. It is intended to close the loop between the actual performance of buildings and design targets and it shifts post occupancy obligations onto designers and contractors for up to three years beyond practical completion.

GSL goes hand-in-hand with BIM because the information gathered and stored through BIM provides a mechanism for evaluating and managing the way buildings and their occupiers operate and perform.

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