The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) is investing nearly £4m in eight major research and development (R&D) projects that aim to radically rethink build processes in the UK and a further £6m in two competitions for feasibility studies into fuel-cell and hydrogen technologies.
The grant funding will give the construction companies, developers and architects leading the projects the opportunity to explore and test the viability of new integrated ways of working that will improve build consistency, cost effectiveness, speed and sustainability.
In a statement, Iain Gray, chief executive of the TSB, said: ‘The government has challenged industry to reduce construction costs by up to 30 per cent, which would enable low-carbon buildings to be constructed for the cost of a standard building.
‘The work we are funding will encourage the UK construction industry to undertake a fundamental rethink of current ways of working and enable businesses to explore potential commercial opportunities created by novel design, procurement and construction processes.’
The R&D projects will be led by A2 Dominion Group, Oxford; Balfour Beatty Construction Northern, Manchester; Edward Cullinan Architects, London; Grimshaw Architects, London; Rider Levett Bucknall, Birmingham; Skanska Technology, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire; The Clarkson Alliance, Oxford; and Willmott Dixon Capital Works, Birmingham.
The grant funding from the TSB totals £3.78m and the overall value of the R&D, including contributions from the participating companies, is £7.6m. Individual grants to each project range from £150,000 to £780,000.
Through the Building Fuel Cell Manufacturing and the Supply Chain competition, up to £5m will be invested through grant funding to encourage the development of manufacturing capabilities and novel supply-chain partnerships to support the production of fuel cells.
According to the TSB, the aim is to enable businesses to make step-changes in production volumes and in lifetime cost reduction through the innovative application of approaches and capabilities available from other business sectors or the academic community.
Up to £1m is available for feasibility studies that explore the potential for innovative ideas and new partnerships as a precursor to further development.
A further £4m will then be available for collaborative R&D to take the most promising ideas forward in a second competition that will open once the feasibility projects have concluded.
Through the Supporting European Collaboration in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen competition, the TSB will invest up to £1m in feasibility studies to encourage businesses working in fuel-cell and hydrogen technologies to explore potential partnerships with EU businesses as a precursor to further development.
The aim is to facilitate collaboration with potential European partners to enable the development of European supply chains, to strengthen access to markets and to increase the level of UK business participation in EU programmes.
The two competitions open on 26 November 2012 and the deadline for registration is 9 January 2013.