UK SaaS construction collaboration technology vendors may take advantage of collaborative funding opportunities opened by a new Technology Strategy Board competition for collaborative R&D funding called “Digitising the construction sector”.
The call complements an existing competition to create a digital tool for building information modelling (brief), and also supports the UK’s current BIM initiative. It was launched at Coventry University’s Simulation Centre at an event featuring a keynote from Sir John Egan, whose 1998 “Rethinking Construction” report set the tone for greater use of collaborative technologies in construction (Egan was also chair of AEC SaaS vendor Asite, 2001-2004), and a presentation from David Philp of the UK BIM Task Group. (You can read more about the event via the tweets and photos captured in this Storify.)
The event attracted a wide cross-section of industry and academic representatives, including many smaller businesses interested in the research funding opportunities. I spotted several familiar names on the delegate list (though some were no-shows), including people from 4Projects, Daden (post), Solibri (a 4Projects partner, of course), Basestone (post), SpecifiedBy (post), SEEABLE (a 3D visualisation firm founded by Severn Partnership), Soluis (known to me through COMIT), and Slider Studio and Clicks & Links (both past consultancy clients of mine). The event was chaired by George Martin, a colleague back in the 1990s when we were both at Tarmac Professional Services.
Collaboration the key
A detailed look at the competition’s scope reveals several areas that may be of interest to SaaS collaboration vendors looking to get some funding to develop innovative digital products, processes or services to support achievement of the government’s 2016 BIM target. In addition to design and construction processes, the scope suggests mobile technologies, tools to support whole-life use of data, and adoption of cloud storage:
- tools that industrialise the capture and processing of 3D data exchange and processing of rich and complex data to enable collaboration between stakeholders. This may include systems that filter and manage data and provide the appropriate level of information for each stakeholder throughout the life cycle of the asset …
- remote multi-user working with digital models, for example, on-site access and input to the model or updates on design or progress direct from the factory …
- transfer of construction-phase data to the operational phase in a consistent and structured way …
- BIM and broader digital approaches offering one-stop shop solutions. Services might include secure cloud storage capacity, licensed software modules and integrated project insurance, and new payment methods between stakeholders
We encourage collaboration between the built environment, ICT and digital economy sectors to maximise the benefits and value of using digital solutions such as BIM. This could, for example, be through demonstrating increased client and supply chain collaboration. In particular, we will consider favourably those solutions that enable reductions in capital and whole-life costs, improvements in quality of construction or reductions in delivery time.