Building begins on the I-Construct Innovation Hub

It was an exciting boost to the project when the official ground-breaking ceremony took place for the new I-Construct Innovation Hub in Braintree, Essex. The BREEAM Excellent-rated two-storey £2.3 million centre of excellence for construction innovation will be located next to the Braintree Enterprise Centre and will open during the summer of 2021.

Providing a physical presence to the I-Construct project, the Innovation Hub will offer spaces for construction businesses to network, launch new products, explore innovations within the technology lab, and meet with business development advisors to learn how they can grow and evolve.

The overall I-Construct project aims to offer business support, innovation grant schemes and advice to support the development of the construction sector. It will create a network and space where thought leadership – in topics such as robotics, modular construction, BIM and collaborative bidding - is shared and celebrated, both virtually and in person. It will also give opportunities for businesses to network and attend supply chain opportunity events with project owners/developers and Tier 1 contractors.

When up and running, the I-Construct project aims to launch 150 new products and has the potential to create up to 130 new jobs within the South East Local Enterprise Partnership region. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), I-Construct is led by the Haven Gateway Partnership and its delivery partners: Braintree District Council, BRE (Building Research Establishment), Colchester Institute, and Daedalus Environmental. They will collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders and industry bodies to deliver the project.

Braintree District Council is investing £1.5 million into the build of the centre. The build project will also receive a grant of £800,000 from the European Regional Development Fund. Beardwell Construction is the appointed contractor set to deliver on the build of this state-of-the-art, new centre consisting of workshop and demonstration spaces, a technology laboratory, conference facilities and informal meeting areas.

Government Members and representatives from Beardwell Construction joined project partners Haven Gateway in a traditional breaking of the ground ceremony near Springwood Drive to mark the occasion.

Cllr John McKee, Cabinet Member for Corporate Transformation at Braintree District Council, said:

“We have begun the exciting work of creating a flagship centre to promote innovation in construction. This project will help businesses grow and create quality job and training opportunities for people in and around Essex and beyond. The creation of this hub means that we are playing our part in supporting innovative businesses and generating the momentum needed to get our economy motoring again.”

Rt Hon James Cleverly Member of Parliament for Braintree said:

“This will be an exciting new building that will showcase exciting new construction technologies. It is another example of local government and business working closely together to deliver opportunity and jobs for local people.”

George Kieffer, Chairman of the Haven Gateway Partnership, said:

“Our work will not only safeguard existing jobs in the construction industry, but it will also help create new jobs and solve some of the challenges facing businesses within that industry. This centre will provide a focal point for business support and innovative building solutions which will have a positive impact on hundreds of businesses across the region and nationally.”

Duncan Clark, Managing Director at Beardwell Construction Limited said:

We are a leading regional contractor committed to working closely with the clients and communities we engage with. We will be working with local subcontractors to create a range of job opportunities for people living and working in the area. We are looking forward to making a positive start on this new innovative build.”