Last week, I was forwarded details of an Innovate UK delivered funding competition of £12.5 million (part of £170 million government investment and £250 million industry funding) for projects to “transform construction by increasing productivity, performance and quality”. This funding is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge.
The press release that I was forwarded announcing the launch of the funding competition talks of the need for “a revolution in the construction sector”; stating “currently it lags behind other industries for productivity – and hasn’t changed much in more than 40 years”. The transformation is required to address the “demand to produce buildings more quickly, safely and with lower emissions”.
The funding competition is a core part of “the Construction Sector Deal, which sets out its vision for a future-proofed sector that can provide affordable, energy efficient homes in days or weeks, rather than months, and at a third of the cost”.
Key criteria for projects, include:
- Projects can, depending on length, be for feasibility studies, industrial research or experimental development – see below for intervention rates. The terms Industrial Research and Experimental Development are defined here
- Projects must be led by a UK business, working with other businesses, research, public sector or third sector organisations. At least one SME must be involved
- Total project costs can be between £25,000 and £500,000 for projects that last six to 12 months, or between £250,000 and £1 million if they last 12 to 24 months
- Projects must start by December 2018 and end by December 2020
- Priority will be given to “collaborative projects that develop technologies, processes and business models that can deliver new built assets 50% faster and 33% cheaper, halve the lifetime carbon emissions and improve whole-life performance”.
More detail on projects sought
This funding competition is looking for projects that improve the three core stages of the construction life-cycle:
- Designing and managing buildings through digitally-enabled performance management
- Constructing quality buildings using a manufacturing approach
- Powering buildings with active energy components and improving build quality
Projects must respond to one or more of the following Industrial Strategy Challenge objectives:
- Encourage new construction projects to use ‘design for manufacturing and assembly’ approaches and active energy technologies. Target: an increase in the pre-manufactured value of built assets
- Increase the productivity of construction projects. Target: 15% over current methods
- Develop new, scalable methods that speed up construction and provide greater certainty about budgets and timing. Target: 50% reduction in time from inception to completion from 2010 baseline
- Develop integrated building components that generate, manage and store energy, to bring down the cost of active buildings. Target: closer to market cost for standard component
- Reduce construction costs and whole-life costs of built assets. Target: 33% reduction against 2010 baseline
- Improve the whole-life value and safety of built assets (user performance), including a reduction in carbon intensity. Target: 50%
Funding available, deadlines and a link for more details
Grant funding up to 70% is available against eligible project costs, with intervention rates depending on project types and size of business as follows:
|Size of business||Feasibility studies and industrial research projects||Experimental development projects|
|Micro or small business||Up to 70%||Up to 45%|
|Medium-sized business||Up to 60%||Up to 35%|
|Large business||Up to 50%||Up to 25%|
The deadline for applications is midday on 19 September 2018.
Further details on the competition and the application process found here.