Irish government seeks consortia to deliver Build Digital Project for Construction Sector

The Irish Government has launched a competitive challenge-based grant call to deliver the Build Digital Project for the Construction Sector in 2021.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, made the announcement, and a Construction Sector Innovation and Digital Adoption team has also been established by the government and industry. The team is tasked with delivering on the seven priority actions detailed in the Building Innovation Report created using research carried out by KPMG and Future Analytics Consulting, and peer reviewed by Technological University Dublin. This work drew upon a wide-ranging survey and consultation, an international benchmarking process, and an economic analysis of causes of productivity trends in the Construction Sector in Ireland.

Minister McGrath, said, “Build Digital aims to ensure that world-class digital practices are adopted throughout the industry and supply chain in order to achieve a more sustainable and innovative sector from top to bottom. It will provide guidance and leadership on the necessary digital tools, standards, approaches, and training required by all across the sector, and in particular small and medium-sized firms who may have yet to realize the full benefits of digital approaches. Increasing innovation in the Irish Construction Sector is more necessary than ever over the coming years in order to deliver on the ambitions set out in the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 investment strategy”.

Applications are being sought from multi-partner consortia, for example, collaborations between higher education institutions (HEIs), companies, and/or other Research Performing Organisations (RPOs). Expressions of Interest must be submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform by 15th January 2021 and full applications by 15th February 2021. One successful application will be selected in March 2021 based on the prescribed criteria.

The successful bidder will be eligible to draw down public grant funding of up to €500,000 per annum for a total of five years, subject to meeting the requirements of the grant agreement. The project will present significant opportunities for industry participation and cooperation, as well as the need for public funding to be supplemented by industry funding.

CIF said, “CIF welcomes today’s launch of this call for consortia to lead the Build Digital Project and recognize it as a critical step in the advancement of our industry towards a digital transformation. Successfully delivered the project can be an enabler for regionally balanced delivery of Project Ireland 2040 and should promote the advancement of our SME’s. With the establishment of the project, the industry can look forward to a coordinated approach to the implementation of standards, development of nationally aligned training programs and in time facilitate a mandate supporting the digital procurement of public and private sector projects.”

Enterprise Ireland, in collaboration with the IDA, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the CIF, also hosted a high-level webinar on “Next Generation Construction of Capital Assets in Ireland – Innovation for International Investors”, aimed at highlighting the opportunity created by the Build Digital Grant Call Out. The webinar was attended by over 200 participants across the construction sector, relevant government department agencies, and other bodies.

Chair of the CSG Innovation and Digital Adoption Sub-group, PJ Rudden, said, “Build Digital is one of 7 priority actions to raise construction productivity levels. Also included is a new Construction Technology Centre by Enterprise Ireland, a move to high quality offsite and modular methods of construction, addressing the built environment skills shortages, and digitizing the planning permission application system to speed up preconstruction planning approvals. These 7 new integrated actions will combine to better deliver Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan. It means building to much higher technical standards, delivering on time, and within approved budgets. Our future construction will be green as well as digital. That means meeting our sustainability and climate action targets”.