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Funding secured for workshops to plan £50m IC3

10th September 2019

A series of regional, national and international workshops are helping to develop a business case for a £50m Newcastle-based International Centre for Connected Construction (IC3).


Northumbria University has been commissioned and funded by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) to develop the IC3 business case and the workshops are helping to shape a vision for IC3 that will attract large-scale investment.


The workshops are being held in Newcastle, London, Amsterdam, Beijing and Mumbai. The local workshops have been led and facilitated by regional IT network Dynamo North East in collaboration with the University. They have explored the current challenges and strengths of the sector in the region; the national and international audience of IC3 and services tools and resources that IC3 should offer.


Anne Macdonald, Head of Engagement at Dynamo, said: “IC3 will be a hub for the global construction sector, researching and developing digital technologies and smarter working practices and applying them to the construction industry. It will also enable industry, academics and the public to work together on the next generation of technological innovation in the built environment.


“IC3 will enable the region to build on its impressive digital construction expertise and become a global leader in the field. The local workshops have brought together key sector leaders from across the region all of whom have given valuable insight and intelligence.


“The first two workshops mapped and audited what is already going on while the last workshop delved deeper into the proposition including exploring research completed by academics at Northumbria University who have looked at similar centres around the world.”


IC3 will also be designed to deliver the Government’s Industrial Strategy challenges of clean growth, future mobility, ageing society and artificial intelligence and data economy. It will a link into the Construction Sector Deal by helping to transform productivity, procuring best value, promoting innovation and advancing skills for the future.


Speaking at the House of Lords launch of the IC3 vision last year, Professor Andrew Wathey CBE, Northumbria University's Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, said: “We are very excited about the plans for IC3 and its potential to be a world-leading centre for the digital transformation of the built environment.  


“Building on core research strengths at Northumbria University, in association with Dynamo and other partners, IC3 will help establish the North East’s role in the global leadership and application of BIM as it evolves from its construction base to the wider idea of Digital Built Britain and beyond to international smart cities and data analytics.


“Northumbria’s role is leading edge, with our expertise coming from the departments of Architecture and Built Environment, Mechanical and Construction Engineering, and Computer and Information Sciences as well as the Digital Living research group.”


Speaking after the recent completion of the local IC3 workshops, Charlie Hoult, co-founder of Dynamo, said: “IC3 is just one example of how our Dynamo clusters can forge powerful collaborations for future economic success - and to change the trajectory of our region.  For IC3 to become a reality, the Holy Trinity of business, academia and Government must work together and to date, that’s exactly what’s been happening.”


Professor Stephen Kyffin, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Business and Enterprise at Northumbria University, said: “The North East has built up an impressive community in digital construction, but these workshops have been a key element in the preparation of the business case for IC3, showing there is a real need for an ambassador who can develop the future agenda for the industry and drive the change on a national scale.


“It’s no secret that there is resistance to doing things differently in construction. It will be IC3’s mission to work with the region’s trailblazers to break down those barriers by demonstrating the value of applying digital technologies to the built environment.


“Beyond that though, the centre also needs to be helping shape policy, legislation and standards to ensure trust in new processes. Through our research, our education and our start-up programme of work, these experimental initiatives will help us to push beyond the boundaries that construction is used to working in, in order to achieve something better.


“The University’s credibility, neutral position and convening power puts us in a perfect place to achieve what is needed from an International Centre for Connected Construction. Our goal is to galvanise the community to build a better, bolder future for the sector, regionally, nationally and internationally.”


IC3’s project board also includes Ryder Architecture, NELEP, Space Group, NBS, BIM Academy and Newcastle City Council.


Dynamo has more than 150 members made up of IT organisations and employers, technology hubs, universities, colleges and local government. It works to grow the region’s IT economy through promoting the region as a hub for the enterprise IT sector and has a mission to increase collaboration, innovation, skills and ‘noise’ to grow the region’s IT economy.


Dynamo is part-funded by the ERDF.

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