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Construction in the UK revolutionised by £2.5m project to unite business and research

WMG is part of a new £2.5m project to bring together businesses and researchers to help overhaul construction practices in the UK.

The way buildings are constructed has changed relatively little in the last 40 years and has not seen the same increase in productivity or innovation as other industries. This project - called the Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) - is one of the investments within the Transforming Construction Challenge (TCC), a programme supported by the UK government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The overall Transforming Construction Challenge looks to enable the sector to produce safe, healthy, efficient buildings using the latest digital manufacturing techniques. These will be more energy efficient structures, using modern materials and digital design methods to build better buildings for people in the UK. N+ will support the industry to adopt these technologies and help buildings to be constructed 50% faster, 33% cheaper and with half the lifetime carbon emissions.

The purpose of the Transforming Construction Network Plus is to create a new community of researchers and a body of knowledge to inform future construction policy and practice to achieve the TCC’s overarching goals. With £1m to invest in a raft of new research projects over the next two years, the Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) will mobilise a new movement in the construction community.

N+ will issue two open calls for small research projects, funding up to 20 academic-led and user-inspired projects to generate new research findings. Academics from a range of disciplines will take part and work together with users, as project partners, to develop new ideas for transforming construction.

N+ focuses on supporting research that looks at construction as a production 'system' for built assets that adds value to cities and their infrastructures. Transforming design, construction and operation of buildings is a problem that demands input from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, which is why major, coordinated investments are being made through the TCC.

The research supported through the N+ will focus on the gaps, inter-relationships and under-explored regions of this domain, spanning digital, energy, construction and manufacturing expertise, in line with the expectations of the Industrial Strategy Construction Sector Deal.

The N+ will address a future in which the UK designs, constructs and operates buildings by realising the potential for integrating advanced offsite manufacturing with state-of-the-art digital design and energy generation and storage technologies. By exploring and synthesising knowledge of how people and communities experience and interact with the built environment, N+ will foster new approaches to the provision of inspiring buildings that give rise to greater user satisfaction and productivity.

Professor Jan GodsellProfessor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy Janet Godsell comments: “Digital technology provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect the fragmented pockets of good practice that exist across construction supply chains, to transform construction.”

Professor Jacqueline Glass, UCL’s Principal Investigator for the N+, said: “With the N+, we have an extraordinary opportunity to tackle longstanding problems which have held back UK construction for decades. We are delighted to be collaborating with researchers from Imperial College London and WMG, University of Warwick to create an integrating agenda for a fragmented industry, by building a new movement of researchers and delivering an evidence-based manifesto for change.”

Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Executive Chair said: “This is innovative, inspiring work that has the potential to impact on the places we work and live in while positioning the UK as an industry leader on the international stage for construction technologies and businesses. ESRC is excited to be working on this project on behalf of UKRI.”

Notes to editors:

The full team are:

· Professor Jacqui Glass, N+ Principal Investigator and Chair of Construction Management, UCL Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management

· Co-Investigator - Professor Andrew Davies, The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management, University College London

· Dr Martin Davies, Director of Business and Innovation Partnerships, UCL Innovation and Enterprise

· Professor Jan Godsell, N+ Co-Investigator and Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy, WMG, University of Warwick

· Professor Jennifer Whyte, N+ Co-Investigator and Laing O'Rourke/RAEng Chair in Systems Integration, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London

· Co-Investigator - Professor Paul Ruyssevelt, UCL Energy Institute, University College London

The Industrial Strategy sets out a long term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. It sets out how we are building a Britain fit for the future – how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure.

 

Jan Godsell