CSIC funding expected to support nearly 2,000 new sector jobs

(L-R) John Forster (chairman of Forster Group and CSIC board chair), Karen Watt (chief executive, Scottish Funding Council), Richard Lochhead MSP and Stephen Good (chief executive, CSIC)

CONSTRUCTION Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has been granted funding tipped to support over 1,800 new jobs over the next five years.

CSIC is to receive almost £11 million of core funding from the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, which will allow it to support its Phase 2 mission to mainstream innovation in construction.

It is expected that the funding will support industry to deliver 1,847 new jobs, retain 4,721 existing jobs and deliver and additional £998 million of additional gross turnover.

CSIC is one of eight industry-led Innovation Centres in Scotland and provides the construction sector and its clients a ‘single entry point’ to a range of innovation support solutions such as academic expertise, R&D funding and cutting-edge technology.

Launched in 2014 with initial funding of £7.5 million from the Scottish Funding Council, CSIC’s mission for its first five years (Phase 1) was to connect the construction industry with academia and build a ‘culture of innovation’ that would drive transformational change and deliver economical impact for Scotland.

It is said to have exceeded its Phase 1 targets, having supported 236 innovation projects from over 780 enquiries, with a total value of £10.7 million. It is predicted this will lead to 262 new products, processes, services and business models going to market and create over 1,200 new jobs. CSIC has also built a digital community of over 3,000 engaged industry innovators, 60 innovation champions, funded 56 MSc students and expanded to include a network of 14 university partners.

Its Phase 2 activities are to focus on culture change, digital transformation, accelerating industrialisation and building sustainably. Phase 2 plans also aim to build the CSIC Innovation Factory in Blantyre into a ‘national asset’ for Scotland.

Stephen Good, chief executive of CSIC commented, “The construction industry is on the verge of a digital and manufacturing revolution. Phase 1 saw CSIC establish itself and focus on building an innovation culture, and we’ve succeeded in creating a solid foundation around that. With this next phase of funding support in place, we can help scale-up and mainstream innovation within the sector, which in turn will unlock growth.

“However, for the next phase to be as successful as it can be, we need industry and its clients, both public and private, to really step up and drive that revolution forward through investing in innovative, collaborative projects which draw on academic expertise to unlock key opportunities. At the heart of any change programme sits committed people and by working together, the future for the construction sector is very bright indeed.”

“It’s encouraging to see that stakeholders are recognising the growing importance of the construction sector to the Scottish economy, which is reflected in the increase in core funding from £7.5 million in Phase 1 to almost £11 million, and the fact that instead of the one core funding partner (Scottish Funding Council) which we had in Phase 1, we now have three. Working more closely with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise will also allow us to offer construction companies access to a wider range of services and public sector innovation support, with CSIC acting as a single point of entry to help simplify the process.”

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead added, “The construction industry is a core sector of the Scottish economy, providing infrastructure to businesses across all sectors of the economy.

“Our vision is for a Scotland where innovation is an intrinsic part of our culture, our society and our economy. This relies on a pipeline of knowledge and skills from universities, colleges and research institutes. Fostering connections between the worlds of industry and academia is vital in making that vision a reality for the construction sector as in others.

“This £10.98 million funding from the Scottish Government, via the Scottish Funding Council and the Enterprise Agencies, will allow the CSIC to continue its excellent work and important activities in the innovative construction landscape, to the benefit of the whole of Scotland and beyond.”