What Industrial Strategy Challenge am I leading?
I am the interim Challenge Director for Transforming Construction, which seeks to change the way we deliver the buildings the UK needs. We want to provide places to live and learn that are safer, healthier and use dramatically less energy. At the same time we need to raise levels of productivity in construction and complete projects with greater certainty, faster and at lower costs.
All of this is possible if we seek to make buildings the way we make cars – standardised components coming together using digital designs. This means greater collaboration between the manufacturing, digital and construction sectors and careful thinking about how we can incorporate energy generating and storing materials during this new build process.
Where have I come from?
I’ve worked in innovation for 15 years. After a PhD in chemistry I worked for a series of spin-outs developing process technology to improve the manufacture of chemical products such as pharmaceuticals and electronics. I began to specialise in sustainability and went from helping companies across the chemical-using industries develop processes and products that took environment and social issues better into account, to doing it for the wider economy when I moved to Innovate UK.
For the last three years I have led our teams supporting high growth companies in the built environment and urban living, with new solutions coming from all sorts of disciplines.
What are my hopes for the Transforming Construction Challenge going forward?
I am particularly keen that the challenge works with our incredible science base to improve our understanding of how buildings effect their users. How can we make hospitals where people recover faster because of their surroundings? Can we make schools where pupils measurably perform better because we have the environment optimised? We are working with our colleagues in EPSRC and ESRC to ensure such research is part of the programme as well as applying cutting edge knowledge to the challenge of manufacturing buildings.
The programme will work with government initiatives to look at schools and other publicly procured built assets first, and in time on homes. The coordination across government is a real feature of this challenge and an honour to be part of.
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