Universities of Salford and Loughborough to help rebuild a better infrastructure and construction sector

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

The University of Salford and Loughborough University are supporting a new industrial collaboration to help rebuild a better infrastructure and construction sector.

The sector has a critical role to play in restarting the nation’s road to recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a key driver of economic and social growth and a major employer across the whole of the UK. This vital role is highlighted today by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which has published a three-stage plan – restart, reset and reinvention – for Construction Sector Recovery.  The plan aims to expand capabilities for infrastructure; housing; repairs, maintenance and improvement; and social and commercial buildings, envisaging a sector that will be more resilient and more capable of delivering the social, economic and environmental demands that are made upon it.

Prior to the pandemic, the Universities were already collaborating with industry, government and professional bodies to help facilitate fundamental shifts in the way the sector operates. Building on the work it has developed with CLC, the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and the Construction Innovation Hub (CIH), and working closely with Local Enterprise Partnerships, Devolved Authorities and other stakeholders, Loughborough and Salford will map and develop existing and new capital and infrastructure investments into regional ‘living labs’.

These labs will demonstrate the application of existing research findings, and highlight new area for investigation, in the delivery of the large-scale projects which underpin the CLC’s recovery plan to increase prosperity across the UK. Priority areas will include decarbonisation; modernisation through digital and manufacturing technologies; and delivering better, safer buildings. In parallel fundamental research on reinventing the industry will accelerate fulfilment of the goals of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Professor Andy Dainty, Dean of Architecture at Loughborough University and Peter McDermott, Professor of Construction Management at the University of Salford, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this important initiative which promises to harness the collective capability of many academic and industry stakeholders. The changes in policy and practice already underway can be elevated and embedded in regional and local plans to help with “levelling-up”. In collaboration, we will support the sector in bouncing forward from Covid-19 by accelerating the pace of positive change that we were seeing prior to the pandemic.”

Keith Waller of the Construction Innovation Hub commented: “It is vitally important that the post-Covid-19 recovery is rooted firmly in new and better ways of doing things and not simply a return to business as usual. Leveraging this collective and world class academic capability through regional social infrastructure projects is an absolute must to generate this change for good.”

Hannah Vickers, ACE chief executive, added: “We looked at Germany – which has a single, streamlined process. By moving towards a similar Fraunhofer-like model in the UK, we can save many vulnerable businesses in our sector and also prepare for future regional and national growth through our world class academic capability. This capacity and knowledge will now focus on supporting the sector’s ‘Roadmap to Recovery’.”

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