Capturing and Supporting Innovation in the Building Industry

by Adi Gaskell

construction-innovationWhilst the construction industry is not one that is renowned for being particularly innovative, there are in fact a number of fascinating technologies emerging in the sector.

For instance, you’ve got the drones that track project progress to the use of augmented reality to do likewise, or even the wearable device that aims to ensure workers are not exposed to hazardous materials.

Perhaps the most visceral technology was the robotic bricklayer (or semi-automated mason if you prefer it’s actual title) that has been developed to power construction sites around the world.

As you can see, there’s perhaps slightly more innovation in the sector than we imagine.  With stats suggesting that the industry spends less on technology than most others however, it cannot rest on its laurels.  So it’s interesting to read about a construction specific innovation challenge that aims to unearth the next big technologies.

The COINS Grand Challenge

The COINS Grand Challenge is an initiative run by the COINS Foundation, the non-profit arm of enterprise software company COINS Global.

The Challenge consists of three core categories:

  • New and emerging technologies, where they are looking for someone with a grand but viable technology-based idea that will have a significant impact on any of the aspects of cost, efficiency, cash flow, sustainability or compliance.
  • Sustainability, where the judges want someone with a grand but viable idea that will significantly improve sustainability. This could relate to any stage or process in the construction lifecycle of built assets, from component design and manufacture, through build and on-going usage, or with an impact throughout the whole construction lifecycle.
  • Leadership, where they are looking for someone who believes that they have both a new vision and or approach to leadership in the construction industry and who also has the personal qualities, confidence and potential to become a leader within the construction industry.

All entries to the competition will be reviewed by the CCIGC Management Committee, with finalists then going on to the Grand Challenge Conference in February, where they will pitch and be judged in a Dragons Den style format.

Winners will receive one of a number of prizes, including R&D grants, mentoring and paid internships, with even those who don’t get picked for a prize typically developing their idea further as a result of the experience.

I spoke with COINS CEO Robert Brown and he told me that last year, the Challenge received entrants from around the world, with finalists from 6 countries.

“Through both the student and open competitions of the Grand Challenge, we have built an accessible platform for people across the world to bring their potentially game-changing ideas to an audience of leaders and influencers who can help bring their ideas to life,” he told me.

“The Grand Challenge is a great opportunity for innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders from any background, nationality and level of experience to showcase and grow an idea which will help to improve the built environment and as a consequence improve our societies and our lives. The competition knows no borders and has no prerequisites, if you have an idea that has the power to make an impact then we want to help you develop it, it’s as simple as that. With a focus on new and emerging technologies, sustainability and leadership, the competition has proven extremely popular with entrants applying from as far as Mexico and Malaysia. We look forward to seeing more exciting entries from entrants across the world in years to come.”

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Adi-Gaskell-150x150Adi Gaskell tells us: “I am a free range human who believes that the future already exists if we know where to look. From the bustling Knowledge Quarter in London, it is my mission in life to hunt down those things and bring them to a wider audience, with my posts here focusing particularly on the latest research on innovation and change.” Follow Adi @adigaskell

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