Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar has announced funding of €5m, over five years, for the establishment of a Construction Technology Centre to accelerate research and innovation within the construction and built environment sector.
The Construction Technology Centre will be hosted by NUI Galway and the consortium includes Trinity, University College Dublin, and University College Cork working with the Irish Green Building Council.
L-R: Frank Kelly, president, Construction Industry Federation; Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland; Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar; Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz, co-director of Construction Technology Centre and lecturer in mechanical engineering at NUI Galway; Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, president, NUI Galway; Johanna Varghese, Irish Green Building Council
Enterprise Ireland worked with Ernst & Young to develop the specification for the Construction Technology Centre by identifying the construction sector’s current, emerging, and future innovation and technology needs through detailed engagement with firms, stakeholders, and national and international experts.
A team of researchers from across the Construction Technology Centre consortium, with expertise in the main areas of digital adoption, modern methods of construction and sustainability will be organised under five pillars to address the urgent areas of Productivity, Affordability & Cost; Quality and Safety; Sustainability; Skills and Training; and Collaboration.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, said: “The government is investing billions – substantially above the EU average - in the future, building new homes, roads, public transport, schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure.
"This new Construction Technology Centre will make sure we are at the cutting edge of new developments in the sector, making sure Irish companies and the taxpayer are getting the best value for money, while building this important infrastructure in the most modern and efficient way possible.
“We’re making sure that a diverse range of academics, skilled craft workers, industry experts and thought leaders feed into the work of the Centre, so that when businesses come for advice, they get accurate, up to date information that is informed by a broad range of expertise across the sector.”
Enterprise Ireland’s CEO, Leo Clancy, said: “The Construction Technology Centre will leverage the best combination of skills, equipment and know-how in the Irish research system. Through innovation, the Centre will help to increase the productivity, sustainability and export potential of the construction sector, while enabling reduced costs and build times for Ireland’s housing and infrastructural requirements.”
President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “NUI Galway has made significant strides in terms of sustainability, one of our core values.
"It is a testament to our dedication in this area that we will host the country’s Construction Technology Centre and bring all of our talent, knowledge and expertise, and that of the higher education sector, to the fore in driving sustainability, innovation and technology transformation in the built environment sector.”
Associate dean of research at Trinity, Professor Brian Broderick, said: “The Rubrics site in Trinity is an excellent location for this announcement as it showcases the College’s plans to develop a sustainable campus. The refurbishment includes the use of local renewable energy within the building and will provide modern residential accommodation with a greatly reduced carbon footprint.
"The design and innovation challenges involved in this project highlight the research questions in construction engineering, materials science and energy technology that will be addressed by the new Construction Technology Centre.”
Head of Trinity's School of Engineering, Professor Alan O’Connor, said: “The Construction Technology Centre represents a phase shift in our approach to innovation in the construction industry in Ireland. Researchers from the Trinity School of Engineering will be central to delivering this innovation.
"Be it through next generation construction materials and modern methods of construction to capitalising on digital construction, developing and deploying sensors to integrating artificial intelligence, adaptive manufacturing and robotics etc. the Centre will deliver ambitious but necessary innovations to the construction sector.
"Crucially, at the core of the centre's mission is to deliver sustainability across the sector, which aligns perfectly with Trinity’s own ambitions. The School of Engineering is proud to be a founder member of the centre and will be at its very core as it seeks to deliver innovation to the construction industry both nationally and internationally.”
Enterprise Ireland has been mandated by government to work with the domestic housebuilding sector for the first time and is working with the government’s Construction Sector Group.
The Technology Centre will join with the Build Digital Project and the Modern Methods of Construction initiative as the government’s opening technology infrastructure response to enabling a more competitive, sustainable and digitally enhanced sector.