The future of construction
We created I-Construct to make a positive contribution to the future of construction.
Construction and the built environment are fundamental to our economy and quality of life. In 2016, the UK construction industry's turnover was £370bn. It exported more than £8bn of products and services and employed around 3.1 million people. Now, the sector needs to adapt and look beyond itself to meet the needs of a fast-changing world. It needs to become more productive, by becoming more innovative. The government's new Construction Sector Deal offers the sector many business opportunities. It also sets targets for increasing sustainability and efficiency; For improving performance and changing public perceptions of the industry. It challenges businesses to meet these targets by adopting new technologies and ways of working. Local and small businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs play a significant role in this transformation. Offering specialist knowledge and state-of-the-art products and services.
With huge growth targets, it is essential that the construction industry finds new ways to accelerate the delivery of building and infrastructure projects while maintaining high standards. Add to this the uncertainty about the long-term impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit, there has clearly never been a more important time for companies (particularly SMEs) to innovate and reach out to others for support.
Change doesn't happen overnight. For most companies innovation is a process of evolution, through the gradual adoption of technology and new ways of doing business. Major growth opportunities lie ahead for those who can adapt and evolve.
There are also major business development opportunities for companies to join major project supply chains. The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) area of Kent, Essex, and East Sussex will have major construction projects during the coming decade. These include the Lower Thames Crossing, the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and Public Health England relocation in Harlow, A12 & A120 expansions, Bradwell B Nuclear Power Station, the London Resort in Northfleet, and new garden communities. This is on top of the general housing and commercial developments. The I-Construct project will assist the local supply chain to participate in these developments.
To compete for work successfully, companies will need to know who the clients are, what their procurement processes are, what their key contract award criteria will be and which other companies or sectors they might need to work with. From a client perspective, working with local suppliers on these projects will be very important as it helps to create local jobs, provides better value, and adds to the overall social and environmental benefits of their investment.
I-Construct has therefore been designed to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to:
- Win new work by connecting them with major projects, client groups, and potential supply chain partners;
- Helping them to improve their competitiveness and procurement readiness;
- Evolve their businesses through technology and innovation;
- Make the time and space for business development strategy and planning.
The team behind I-Construct
As a project, 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.
We are part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and HM Government until the end of 2022. Match-funding is also being provided by Braintree District Council for the I-Construct Innovation Hub, and BRE to link the project to their national initiatives.
During the project, we are collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders and industry bodies to help as many small and medium-sized businesses as we can.