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£18m investment in construction industry

Words: Laura Edgar
Smart construction / Shutterstock_1014919495

Funding totalling £18 million will be invested in digital technology to transform the construction industry.

The government funding will come from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Four new research projects that will speed up assembly, save money and improve the quality of UK building projects have been announced by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The schemes will receive a share of £5 million from the funding. They include exploring the use of 3D-printed concrete components created off-site and researching how voice-activated artificial intelligence and augmented reality can be integrated with the assembly of components to speed up construction and increase productivity without compromising health and safety.

A new £5 million Research Leaders programme aims to develop innovative solutions to transform the construction industry and deliver high-performing homes, as well as better jobs.

UKRI also announced £13.3 million to fund 24 collaborative research and development projects in the construction sector that address the three core aims of the Transforming Construction challenge programme: designing and managing buildings through digitally-enabled simulation; constructing quality buildings through off-site manufacturing approaches; and powering buildings with active generation and storage. They will be delivered by Innovate UK.

Construction minister Richard Harrington said: “The use of artificial intelligence, digital techniques and off-site manufacturing help us to harness new methods of working. This delivers on the government’s Construction Sector Deal, which pledges to build better-performing buildings, using less energy and providing better value for taxpayers."

Professor Sir Mark Walport, chief executive at UKRI, said: “Technologies being developed in the UK provide a significant opportunity to transform the way we build, such as the use of augmented reality to improve design or robotics to aid complex building assembly.

“Through projects such as these, the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund allows us to catalyse innovation across the UK’s vital construction industry improving productivity, sustainability and safety.”

A full list of the 24 research and development projects can be found here (pdf). 

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