• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £6m in collaborative R&D that supports the digitisation of the construction sector supply chain.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £6m

  • Opens: 17 Mar 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 23 Apr 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 30 Apr 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

« go back

Digitising the construction sector

Competition results

Please see here for the competition results.


The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £6m in collaborative R&D that supports the digitisation of the construction sector supply chain.     
We will bring together the construction, digital and ICT communities to develop innovative new products, processes or services that could revolutionise collaborations between supply chain partners and unlock new business models. This will help the sector to reduce costs, speed up delivery times, increase efficiency, cut waste, and deliver solutions that are ‘right first time'.     
Proposals must be collaborative and business-led. We expect to fund mainly industrial research projects in which a business partner will generally attract up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs).     
We expect projects to range in size from total costs of £200k to £2m and to last between one and two years, although we may consider projects outside this range.  
This is a two-stage competition that opens for applicants on 17 March 2014. The deadline for expressions of interest is at noon on 30 April 2014.     
A briefing for potential applicants will be held on 18 March 2014, and there will be a recorded webinar available after the event. 


We have developed this competition in response to the Government's Building Information Modelling Strategy and the Construction Industrial Strategy - which encourages the take-up of building information modelling (BIM) within the supply chain. The competition has support from the BIM Task Group and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).     
Building information modelling is a collaborative way of working, underpinned by digital technologies that unlock more efficient methods of designing, creating and maintaining assets.
In 2011, the UK government partnered with the construction industry in setting up the BIM Task Group. It has adopted a three-level approach, and the goal is for all centrally funded public procurement to be delivered by 2016 using Level 2 BIM –  where organisations share data using common information management standards (visit www.bimtaskgroup.org for more information on the task group and BIM levels). The UK Government's National Infrastructure Plan foresees £375bn of investment in public and private infrastructure up to 2030 and beyond. This is also expected to accelerate the adoption of BIM for non-government procurement, and to support UK firms offering BIM products and services overseas.    
Adopting BIM will improve quality, timing and performance and cut costs by reducing errors and waste. It will introduce a way of working in which data is stored and shared between parties throughout the design, construction and operation of buildings and infrastructure. This will encourage greater collaboration, transparency and trust within the sector and promote innovation in delivery, particularly from the supply chain.     
Digital design and engineering will enable the construction sector to be transformed, by adopting a more industrialised approach. It will modernise the construction sector in the same way that effective data   exchange and collaborative supply chains have revolutionised the automotive and aerospace sectors over the past two decades. Digital solutions include features such as automated data acquisition,   storage and access; 3D drawing; construction sequencing; progress monitoring; and virtual rehearsal.     
Early successful applications include high-precision modular offsite manufacturing to allow on-site assembly. This has seen reductions in waste and time spent and improvements in quality.     


We will support UK-based firms carrying out R&D to digitise the construction sector to meet the UK Government's 2016 target for using Level 2 BIM on centrally procured projects. This will help them to capitalise on the future growth in markets for digital solutions in the UK and overseas.     
Innovative digital products, processes or services that we will support include:     
  • user-friendly interfaces for clients to engage with the supply chain, for example, through the use of new types of BIM-linked visualisation tools     
  • tools that industrialise the capture and processing of 3D data exchange and processing of rich and complex data to enable collaboration between stakeholders. This may include systems that filter and manage data and provide the appropriate level of information for each stakeholder throughout the life cycle of the asset     
  • solutions that allow product manufacturers to contribute their specifications for products and   components earlier in the design process     
  • remote multi-user working with digital models, for example, on-site access and input to the model or updates on design or progress direct from the factory     
  • transfer of construction-phase data to the operational phase in a consistent and structured way, such as the format established in COBie UK 2012 (www.bimtaskgroup.org/cobie-uk-2012/)
  • integrating models from multiple construction projects into master planning tools     
  • capturing and integrating feedback from the delivery and operational phases to support continuous improvement    
  • BIM and broader digital approaches offering one-stop shop solutions. Services might include secure cloud storage capacity, licensed software modules and integrated project insurance, and new payment methods between stakeholders     
  • other innovative market-driven digital solutions.     
We are also supporting firms developing   innovative solutions to meet the Government's BIM L2 2016 targets. We therefore recommend that applicants look at the PAS1192 standards and the work packages of the BIM Task Group (www.bimtaskgroup.org/work-streams-wps/).     
We encourage collaboration between the built environment, ICT and digital economy sectors to maximise the benefits and value of using digital solutions such as BIM. This could, for example, be through demonstrating increased client and supply chain collaboration. In particular, we will consider favourably those solutions that enable reductions in capital and whole-life costs, improvements in quality of   construction or reductions in delivery time.     
Proposals that do not offer an innovative approach to digitising the construction sector supply chain are out of scope.    

Looking for partners to work on your project? 

Go to _connect to find collaborators and networks.     
Visit the digital design and engineering group at https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/digital-design-and-engineering/overview     

Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £6m to fund collaborative R&D projects that address the   technical challenges outlined in the scope.     
Successful project participants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The percentage of costs that we pay varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of   organisation involved. For this competition projects must be business-led and collaborative. They should last one to two years. We are primarily seeking to fund industrial research, with a business partner attracting up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs), although elements of experimental development attracting funding of up to 25% (35% for SMEs) are expected in some cases.
We expect projects to range in size from £200k to £2m. We may consider larger projects but applicants should contact us directly before making their application to discuss further. 
Research and academic organisations may participate in projects as a partner in a consortium, however, at least 70% of the project costs must be incurred by businesses.    
Successful applicants will be encouraged to share best practice of collaborative working across the industry. We propose to organise a series of support events, one part way through project delivery and a further event prior to completion. Organisations will be required to showcase their solution and discuss their approach to delivery.     

Application process

This is a two-stage competition that opens for applicants on 17 March 2014.     
  • Stage 1 - Applicants submit an expression of interest which is assessed.     
  • Stage 2 - We invite selected applicants to submit an application.   
All applicants must first register via our website by noon on 23 April 2014. The deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 30 April 2014. The second stage deadline for invited applications is at noon on 3 July 2014.     
Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. We may apply a portfolio approach across the themes/areas, subject to applications meeting the required quality threshold.    
A briefing for potential applicants will be held on 18 March 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. 
Applicants are strongly recommended to attend this event. A networking event will also be held on 20 February 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and to give businesses the opportunity to meet potential partners.     
Note: All deadlines are at noon.     
Each partner in a collaborative R&D project can receive funding towards their project costs - the funding is a percentage of the total eligible project costs and varies, depending on the type of organisation and the type of research. For general guidance on how projects are funded see: www.innovateuk.org/-/funding-rules 

More information

To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for applications.     

See the Digital Design and Engineering Special Interest Group and the additional documents and media

Key dates

  • Competition launch and brokering event: 20 February 2014
  • Competition opens: 17 March 2014
  • Competition briefing: 18 March 2014
  • Registration deadline: Noon, 23 April 2014
  • Deadline for expressions of interest: Noon, 30 April 2014
  • Stage 2 opens for invited applicants: 19 May 2014
  • Deadline for invited applications: Noon, 3 July 2014
  • Projects expected to start: October 2014


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive. 
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the decision to offer an award has been communicated to applicants by email. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.