Collaboration aims to shake up construction sector

A ground-breaking collaboration aimed at transforming the future of the UK’s construction industry has been unveiled.

National framework provider Pagabo, which is based in Hull, has forged a research agreement with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

It aims to challenge current methods in the construction sector, and pioneer fresh ideas that embrace new technology and advanced manufacturing methods.

Joining them in the venture are C4DI, the Hull-based incubator company that promotes growth in tech businesses, specialist data centre company Yondr and industry leader Lord Bob Kerslake.

Gerard Toplass

Gerard Toplass, executive chairman of Pagabo, said: “Everyone agrees construction is a sector that has been left behind in terms of new ways of working and innovation. Many methods in construction have been used for decades.

“What we want to do is to totally shake up the construction sector – and create real change to drive economic growth and establish the UK as a global innovator.”

He said Pagabo was so committed to the use of new methods that it had created The Future of Construction (TFOC) initiative to drive industry-wide collaboration to shape the sector’s future.

“The construction sector needs a revolutionary moment – similar to the aerospace industry when it created the ‘black box’”, he said.

“This new collaboration between Pagabo and the AMRC will bring the sector together, unify common objectives and drive forward real change.

“We will be building an enterprise that seeks to leverage new techniques, innovation and automation.”

The University of Sheffield AMRC is a network of research and innovation centres that work with manufacturing companies of all sizes around the globe.

Its research develops innovative methods that are of practical use to the manufacturing industry.

Steve Foxley, CEO of the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “We see construction as a wildly exciting and opportunity-filled industry to benefit from our learnings over the past 20 years.

“We want to work closely with Pagabo to create a real catalyst for change. Pagabo has a unique and important role within the industry as a framework provider and has influence across a wider portion of the industry via its ecosystem of contractors and supply chain partners.

“We will be learning from the automotive and aerospace industries and seeing where we can adapt methods and innovations that would work in the construction sector.”

Lord Bob Kerslake

Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, is a non-executive chairman of Pagabo who helped forge its relationship with the AMRC.

“Research and development remains low in construction,” he said. “And there is very little collaboration on this among key players in the industry.

“Combined, we want to make a real and transformational difference in construction within the next ten years.”

John Connolly, managing director of C4Di, said: “This new research agreement benefits everyone. Leveraging learning and experience from the AMRC, and Pagabo’s connections within construction is a formidable force.

“The AMRC brought large industry players together to solve their challenges and Pagabo and its TFOC model builds on that.”

Dave Newitt, CEO of Yondr, the specialist data centre operator, is involved with Pagabo and its TFOC initiative.

He said: “We believe construction has a great deal to learn from manufacturing. We want to look at modularisation and taking works off-site – so, building off site rather than on site.”

Professor Rab Scott, head of digital at the AMRC, said that in just four weeks, the collaboration had already created change.

He said: “We have started working with Pagabo on health and safety on site and looking at ways of using digital technologies to streamline processes.

“In terms of results, if we can prevent one accident or one hour’s lost time, it has an immediate benefit, and our work is immediately scalable.”