THE vital role that innovation has to play in the Scottish construction industry was reinforced by Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP in Glasgow when she officially launched the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.
Ms Sturgeon was joined at the event by Derek Mackay MSP, Minister for Local Government & Planning when they both addressed 300+ delegates gathered for Construction Scotland’s Annual Conference focused on achieving growth through innovation.
Ray O’Rourke – founder and chair of global engineering and construction group Laing O’Rourke – delivered a keynote address during the afternoon session, emphasising how being innovative has been central to his company’s success in the industry.
The Construction Scotland Innovation Centre was established in March 2014 and is the hub to connect the 31,000 plus businesses in the Scottish construction industry with academic expertise. This unique partnership between the industry, academia and Government, aims to be a catalyst to drive growth and profit in the construction industry in Scotland. Initial funding of £7.5 million was received in spring 2014, with an additional £2 million for capital equipment subsequently obtained.
Financed by the Scottish Funding Council, the Innovation Centre is supported by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and11 of Scotland’s universities – University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow School of Art, Heriot Watt University, University of Highlands & Islands, Robert Gordon University, University of Strathclyde, and University of West of Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon said, “Scotland has many creative, innovative companies and academic institutions capable of identifying growth opportunities and delivering industry solutions.
“We are supporting the international competitiveness of our universities by investing over £1 billion in higher education. We are also investing through the Scottish Funding Council £124 million over 6 years in a network of Scottish Innovation Centres allowing us to boost labour productivity and build on our highly-skilled workforces.
“Innovation Centres are about developing the best environment for businesses and academia to interact, taking innovative ambitious projects of excellence that have the potential to bring millions more to the economy and create thousands of jobs.
“The construction industry underpins all of Scotland’s key sectors and therefore underpins the success of our whole economy. Working together we can create the best environment for our businesses to thrive in partnership with academia to achieve our goals and aspirations for the sector.”
Bill McBride, interim Chair of the Innovation Centre, said, “Today has been a great one for all of us who have been involved in shaping the structure and business plan for the Innovation Centre, particularly as we are now able to, figuratively speaking, open our doors to the industry and invite construction-related companies to engage with us and begin establishing relationships that will help us help them make innovative ideas and projects a reality.”