“Innovate or die”

17 December 2018

Allan Sandilands, Principal Consultant at Resource Futures, shares his thoughts on how a growing network of Innovation Champions are helping the Construction industry in Scotland to reduce its environmental impact by tackling some of the challenges they face, head on.

“Innovate or die.” That is the quote aimed squarely at the construction industry by Mark Farmer at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) Innovation Champions network launch.

Farmer is the CEO of Cast Consultancy and author of The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model, 2016. The review highlighted that the UK construction industry faced ‘inexorable decline’ unless a range of longstanding problems were tackled.

These problems included:

  • Low productivity
  • Low predictability
  • Structural fragmentation
  • Leadership fragmentation
  • Low margins, adversarial pricing models and financial fragility
  • A dysfunctional training, funding and delivery model
  • Workforce size and demographics
  • Lack of a collaboration and improvement culture
  • Lack of research and development, and investment in innovation.
  • A poor industry image

The CSIC has recently established a network of 55 Innovation Champions to help the sector tackle some of these challenges head on in Scotland. The champions will form an expert pool of thought leaders which CSIC can draw from as it continues to supercharge innovation across the construction industry.

It is clear that the status quo cannot continue and Innovation is required, across many areas, to make the sector more sustainable, efficient and productive. I am proud to be part of this network and to call myself an Innovation Champion. But what does it really mean?

Well my role, alongside my fellow champions, will be to review project applications submitted to CSIC, ensuring the centres funding delivers maximum social, environmental and economic impact. It will also be to provide advice on future opportunities, help shape new campaigns and generally lead the innovation charge.

I have personally been involved in supporting the construction industry for the last 15 years to reduce its environmental impact. My areas of expertise are the Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency, with a specific focus on waste. The construction industry is the single largest waste producing and material consuming sector in the country. Circular economy thinking, business models and products are desperately needed if we want to attempt to mitigate these impacts.

I am excited to be part of this network and also the work being undertaken by the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre. I hope to be able to help those interested in this area to seize the opportunities that exist and to accelerate the change that is needed.