New investment to boost NW construction industry

Michael Hunt

The North West's construction industry will benefit from a new £6m 'knowledge hub' investment aimed at honing the regions' competitiveness, increasing productivity and helping it respond to the threats and opportunities posed by climate change.

The 'knowledge hub' will be funded by the European Regional Development Fund with £3m, matched with £1.5m from the North West Development Agency and £1.5m from other public sector organisations across the North West.

The launch was officially marked at the new University of Central Lancashire/Burnley FE College campus with a visit from Rosie Winterton, Minister for Regional Economic Development and Coordination, as part of a programme of visits to projects within the region.

The 'knowledge hub' is led by the Centre for Construction Innovation and will be delivered by Building Research Establishment, University of Central Lancashire, University of Liverpool and Urban Vision.

The Project is delivered under the 'Improving your Resource Efficiency' product, part of the Government's Solutions for Business portfolio.

It sets out to provide support and guidance for construction businesses in the region helping them to become more productive, cost effective and efficient, whilst reducing their environmental impact.

The project aims to further enable the construction sector to respond to the opportunities and threats posed by climate change, increased regulation and the Government sustainability drivers, allowing them to become more competitive.

It is forecast that the project will reduce annual CO2 emissions, and create 300 jobs whilst safeguarding a further 300 jobs by creating a 'knowledge net' of in-depth support and assistance.

The project will:

  • Promote knowledge transfer between Higher Education Institutions and Industry to develop innovative products, services and construction practices to reduce waste and carbon emissions
  • Build capacity within SMEs so that they become more profitable, more productive and economically stable
  • Assist local construction enterprises to adopt sustainable approaches in design and delivery; helping to embed principles of recycling, waste management and carbon reduction in all aspects of design, procurement, construction and demolition and
  • Help minimise waste, maximise recycling and reduce carbon emissions at all stages of the construction process

Rosie Winterton, Minister for Regional Economic Development and Coordination, said: "The construction knowledge hub is a valuable chance for construction companies across the region to save money and become more profitable through better efficiency and waste reduction – something which is critical in the current economic climate."

A European Regional Development Fund programme monitoring committee was formed to monitor, oversee and advise on the delivery of the programme and has proved invaluable to the development of the new fund.

Peter Watson, managing director of Business Link Northwest and a member of the ERDF programme monitoring committee, said: "The construction knowledge hub represents an opportunity for construction companies to become more profitable through efficiency and waste reduction, which is critical in the current economic climate. The benefits of the initiative will be far reaching and as well as helping to stabilise the North West's construction industry, will also drive prosperity in the region."

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