Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, TD, today officially launched Construct Innovate, a new Enterprise Ireland Technology Centre hosted at University of Galway. The Centre has been established with funding of €5 million, over 5 years, to accelerate research and innovation in the construction sector and put the built environment industry at the cutting-edge of developments by utilising the strengths of a network of government, industry and academia.
Construct Innovate will be at the forefront of initiatives to meet the demands of major building and investment programmes as part of Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan 2021-2030; Housing for All; and the Climate Action Plan.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar T.D., said:
“Construct Innovate is one of the actions we are taking under the Government’s ‘Housing for All’ plan to drive innovation, productivity and structural change in the construction sector.
“The Centre will help Irish construction companies to develop competitive advantage, using cutting edge products and services that are better performing, more efficient, more environmentally sustainable, and more effective for their customers. It is a welcome addition to Enterprise Ireland’s existing industry led Technology Centre Programme, which underpins Ireland’s Research, Development and Innovation capabilities.
“Through the Housing for All Implementation Fund, I am allocating a further €0.5 million in funding for Construct Innovate in 2023, which will ensure that the Centre is able to prioritise the projects to bring about immediate results for the residential construction sector.”
The consortium is the first of its kind in Ireland and as well as the University of Galway includes Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and University College Cork, working with the Irish Green Building Council, sectoral bodies and construction companies. It brings together a critical mass of experts and thought leaders, offering a single point of contact for industry to access the best combination of skills, equipment and know-how in the Irish research system.
The official launch of Construct Innovate coincides with the formal opening of a call for members among construction companies.
President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said:
“University of Galway is dedicated to excellence and sustainability as core values and it is a huge credit to our community that by embedding those values in our research endeavours that we have been selected to host Construct Innovate – a national technology centre supporting the quality of the work of one of our largest indigenous employers. Our university exists for the public good. Given the importance of the built environment for us all, Construct Innovate led by University of Galway is a shining example of that ethos in practice as it enhances the sector’s capacity to address challenges affecting society.”
Professor Jamie Goggins and Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz, University of Galway academics and Directors of Construct Innovate, said:
“Our vision for Construct Innovate is to provide a platform for collaboration to all stakeholders in the construction industry. A platform that empowers industry to take ownership of research and innovation and supports a modernised, resilient and sustainable sector. A key part of our work will be listening to industry – as they identify challenges and we will work together on this innovation journey”.
Joe Healy, Divisional Manager, Research and Innovation Enterprise Ireland said:
“Research, development and innovation are key components of thriving businesses and are essential to maintaining a competitive edge in the market. Technology Centres are making a measurable impact to companies in sectors like food, pharmaceuticals and microelectronics, manufacturing, data analytics and learning technologies. Today’s launch comes at a crucial time when the ask on the industry to ramp up on build quality, quantity and delivery times is a top priority, all the while supporting a strict sustainability and carbon neutral agenda. A world class model of knowledge sharing and collaboration through this hub will offer innovative solutions to support the technology transformation of the construction and built environment sector.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Construct Innovate is the ninth Enterprise Ireland Technology Centre. The establishment of a Construction Technology Centre to support the technology transformation of the entire construction and built environment sector will build on the successful experience of EI/IDA supported Technology Centres and their proven ability to solve sector wide technology and innovation challenges and deliver timely economic impact.
A team of researchers from across the Construction Innovate consortium will offer expertise in digital adoption, modern methods of construction and sustainability, providing recommendations to industry on best practice. Their work will be organised under five pillars to address the following urgent areas - productivity; affordability and cost; quality and safety; sustainability; skills and training; and collaboration. It will be built around industry-led, open innovation and collaborative research, with the construction sector using Construct Innovate to access the best available expertise. This approach will enable the construction sector to tap into the innovative responses which are needed to support rapid transformation to meet demand, in terms of scale, quality, speed and efficiency. Construct Innovate will also provide secondment opportunities for innovative research and academics across the consortium.
In line with the Government’s Housing for All strategy, Construct Innovate has been tasked with prioritising research and innovation in the housing sector in its first three years. Part of this will allow for testing; trial builds; building systems analysis; workforce upskilling and developing capacity with all of these opportunities being combined with the need to pursue the highest environmentally-friendly standards in materials and building systems.
Enterprise Ireland Technology Centres Programme
The Government-backed Technology Centre Programme is a joint Enterprise Ireland/IDA initiative which has been in operation for over 12 years and has contributed to the success of many Irish businesses in key sectors. Enterprise Ireland’s first eight technology centres currently employ 320 researchers working collaboratively with almost 280 Member companies, 570 associate member companies as well as over 2,600 companies that regularly engage with the Centres on training, networking, and knowledge transfer activities.
Ireland’s Construction Sector
In 2021, Ireland’s population reached 5 million mark for the first time since the 1850s. Some estimates, including Project Ireland 2040, predict that we will have an extra million people within the next 20 years. To service the current population and the projected 20% increase, the Government is investing billions (€165bn National Development Plan) - substantially above the EU average - building new homes, roads, public transport, schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure. The Irish construction sector employs over 171,000 people which is 6.7% of total employed in the economy and represents 2% of GDP.
The Irish construction sector is a major driver of economic activity. It provides the social, economic, and productive infrastructure required to sustain economic growth and competitiveness and attract foreign direct investment.
Enterprise Ireland’s High-Tech Construction and Housing team works with a portfolio of 450 client companies that achieved exports of €2.89bn in 2021, up 24% on the previous year.
Enterprise Ireland's Agency Mandate has been expanded to allow a suite of existing research, innovation, lean, digitalisation and green offers to be available to domestic residential construction sector. This 'Built To Innovate' campaign was launched on March 21st 2022.
Despite having some high performing companies, the construction industry overall has major challenges including fragmentation, boom-bust cycles and comparatively low productivity compared to other sectors and other countries.
Working with the Government’s Construction Sector Group, and supporting the implementation of Housing for All, Enterprise Ireland is leading the drive for productivity and innovation through the establishment of the Construction Technology Centre which will sit alongside a Build Digital Centre (est. 2021), the forthcoming Demonstration Park at Mount Lucas, and other related initiatives.
Further information Enterprise Ireland Technology Centres and https://www.constructinnovate.ie/