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£1m for East Midlands businesses to boost digital construction

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) wants to show construction leaders how digital technologies can drive greater efficiency and productivity, and will fund East Midlands companies in any sector with the know-how to share their knowledge. 

Virtual reality, surveying drones, and 3D modelling are already being used in construction, and CITB can fund early adopters in this and other industries, including those based at the University of Nottingham’s new Advanced Manufacturing Building which is home to research groups focussing on 3D printing, artificial intelligence and more.

Nathaniel Cooke, CITB Assistant Funding Manager, will explain the opportunities available at the Digital Upskilling Commission information event at Kelham Hall, near Newark, on 24 April.   

He said: “With the opening of the Advanced Manufacturing Building, the East Midlands is fast becoming an industrial innovation hub, with the university already collaborating with major names in construction such as Laing O’Rourke. 

“Projects must be applicable to construction employers, because whether you’re a local software developer, civil engineer, retailer, technology research group, or a healthcare provider using data to improve patient care, construction needs to see the benefits of digital in its own industry and others as to why using technology goes way beyond simply investing to save.

“We’re calling for firms and educational institutions in Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands to show construction leaders, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, the transformative benefits of digital, as the industry cannot afford to lag behind other sectors and lose business to innovating competitors.”

Bids are invited from organisations already seeing transformative benefits through technologies that can include cloud computing or collaborative working online; data analytics; building information modelling (BIM); innovative social media use; mobile and tablet apps to share data, and more. 

The scheme will fund a range of partnerships where local digital experts work with construction companies to outline how their company has benefitted, build on existing knowledge, and develop sustainable, scalable applications of digital technology to construction that can be widely adopted within the industry.

This funding comes after CITB published research last year based on a cross-section of views from the sector showing that where digital technologies are being used they improve productivity and increase efficiency, and can attract a younger and more diverse workforce while allowing UK construction to continue to export expertise and compete globally. 

Examples in construction include Highways England’s Cambridge to Huntingdon A14 improvement scheme uses GPS and 3D systems to share data with earthmoving equipment. 

It means engineers spend less time travelling around site to update teams on design changes or where to dig, and machine operators spend more time moving earth with data shared digitally rather than in person.

Other digital technologies associated with construction include automation; wearable tech; Lidar (laser-supported surveying); the internet of things; and productivity or planning apps.

The deadline for submitting expressions of interest is 18 June - so register your attendance at the 24 April Digital Upskilling information event.