Minister McGrath announces winner of the Construction Sector Build Digital Grant

4 Nov, 2021

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, has awarded funding to the Build Digital Alliance, led by TU Dublin, for their proposal which sets out plans to gather momentum in digital adoption in the construction sector in Ireland.

The Build Digital grant project was established under Project Ireland 2040 to foster increasing levels of innovation in the Irish Construction Sector. Project Ireland 2040 needs a competitive, dynamic and sustainable construction sector to deliver new social, economic and climate-resilient infrastructure. To achieve this outcome, we need to influence building design and construction towards a more industrialised approach.  

The Build Digital project is one of seven priority action points arising from the Building Innovation Report , which drew upon a wide-ranging survey and consultation, international benchmarking process and economic analysis of causes of productivity trends in the Construction Sector in Ireland.

The Build Digital grant agreement between DPER and the Build Digital Alliance amounts to €2.5 million over a five year period. After five years, the project will have delivered increased digital adoption across the entire Irish construction and built environment sector.

Some actions that will be undertaken to achieve this include;

  • establishing an Irish Build Digital Leadership Forum to co-ordinate and lead the sector in digital adoption along with a Build Digital Exchange Hub for accessible resource knowledge learning and sharing across the sector,
  • undertaking an annual national survey for monitoring progress, impact, and developments in respect of the Build Digital project goals,
  • engaging widely by region, sector and partnering globally to provide access for Irish organisations to international best practice for adoption and adaptation,
  • identifying, monitoring, and publishing on Living Lab projects of different scales, types, and locations, in collaboration with public and private sector clients,
  • developing an Irish building information modelling (BIM) Framework to support the industry in the delivery of ISO standards and associated guidance,
  • improving the quality, consistency, and availability of education and training supports for digital adoption,
  • developing digital procurement product identification standards and training materials,
  • benchmarking progress under Build Digital against international comparators.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, praised the initiative in an online announcement saying:

“The Build Digital Alliance proposal will allow Ireland to realise its digital ambitions and will aid in delivering public projects to a higher standard using digital efficiencies. As part of the Build Digital Project, The Irish Build Digital Exchange Hub will be key in the sharing of knowledge and learnings across the entire sector.

"We must work together with the sector in a collaborative fashion and empower the industry to increase productivity through innovation. This will be hugely significant as the recently published €165 billion National Development Plan is rolled out over the next number of years.

"The principle aim of the Build Digital Project is to ensure that world class digital practices, which already exist in certain elements in the construction sector, are adopted throughout the industry and supply chain in order to achieve a more sustainable and innovative sector. It is also important to acknowledge the strong regional dimension to this project with a number of partners involved in the consortium from various parts of the country, including Munster Technological University”.

 

President of TU Dublin, Professor David FitzPatrick welcomed the announcement and said, "

“The Build Digital Project is closely aligned to TU Dublin’s strategic priorities of people, planet, and partnership, and we are leading the way in adopting a “digital by default” approach across the university.

 Our Alumni network and our strategic partnerships with organisations across the sector, particularly in support of TU Dublin’s innovative Design + Construct Centre, serve to strengthen our reach in driving the leadership and cultural change required for digital adoption across the construction and built environment sectors.”

 

PJ Rudden, Chairman of the Construction Innovation and Digital Adoption group, said that:

“This innovation project will accelerate the necessary digital transformation of the construction industry and in doing so, will greatly increase both productivity and sustainability”.

Congratulating TU Dublin, Caroline Spillane, Director General of Engineers Ireland, said:

“Digital-focused research and innovation is required in a wide range of infrastructure sectors to support climate action. The Build Digital Project will provide guidance and leadership on the necessary digital tools, standards, approaches and training required by all across the construction sector.

"TU Dublin will now play a central role in the delivery of this vital project and the advancement of our industry towards a digital transformation, in addition to supporting the ambitions set out in the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 investment strategy.”

The benefits of Build Digital should support a range of construction sub-sectors under Project Ireland 2040, including the delivery of Housing for All, by assisting the speed of delivery, reducing the cost of delivery, and improving the quality of output and the maintenance of structures once built.

The announcement of the grant comes following an open and competitive grant call for proposals published in December 2020. In addition to the regular reporting requirement, TU Dublin will be asked to submit a major interim report in June 2024.

A spokesperson for Build Digital Alliance said:

"TU Dublin, the Construction IT Alliance, Galway-Mayo IT, Munster Technological University, University College Dublin, and Waterford IT are delighted to have been awarded the prestigious Build Digital grant, which represents the largest state investment to date in the development of holistic improvement of performance for the Irish construction sector. The project will support sectoral stakeholders, particularly SMEs and clients, in innovating and increasing their productivity while also contributing to reducing the climate impact of the built environment".