Today (Tuesday 27th March) sees the launch of a construction industry-first technology accelerator programme called ‘ConstrucTech’.

Created by Colmore Tang Construction, a £10m innovation fund will be provided to those companies that can successfully show how their innovation and technology could improve the sector’s productivity, sustainability and skills issues.

Colmore Tang has partnered with not-for-profit company Virgin StartUp to deliver ConstrucTech, and is open to applications from start-ups and entrepreneurs around the world.

Virgin StartUp is a leading business support organisation which has run a number of successful accelerators and supported 11,000 entrepreneurs across the UK; through providing of startup loans, mentorship, business advice and access to global business networks. It will use this experience to identify and recruit technology businesses internationally that could meet the innovation gap which has long existed in the construction sector.

Construction in the UK has been slow to embrace innovation and adopt new technology. Over a third of construction projects in the UK overrun on time (40%) or budget (35%)[1]. It’s believed technology can help fill this void and Colmore Tang has identified a number of key areas within its business, and the industry as a whole, which it believes could benefit from the contribution of enterprising start-ups.

Colmore Tang and Virgin StartUp are therefore calling for businesses to apply to the ConstrucTech programme to address the following problems:

  • People: improving analysis of performance, sharing best practice across building projects, measurement of quality and also implementation of health and safety.
  • Data: using data to pre-empt potential delays, more efficient material ordering, more effective use of labour along with use of performance data to improve cost, timescales and estimates of new projects for future clients.
  • Smart Materials: design and implementation of materials to improve sustainability; improve safety and finding materials which are digitally connected.

Colmore Tang is providing start-ups with the opportunity to use the programme as a testbed and development platform to bring products and ideas to the construction sector. It’s hoped the £10m innovation behind ConstrucTech will be the spark to improve lacklustre productivity levels and also begin addressing the need to re-skill over half a million construction workers to suit the industry’s future[2].

Virgin StartUp has previously run similar programmes for Virgin Trains (Platform-X) and it also developed the UK’s first Crowdfunding accelerator programme (Crowdboost). This will be the first time the not-for-profit has partnered with a company outside the Virgin Group.

Andy Robinson – Group CEO, Colmore Tang, said: “The debate around technology in construction needs to move forward quickly. Other industries are much better at seeing the potential in technology and grasping opportunities to boost productivity and commercial gain.

“Construction is falling behind and it’s having a negative impact on the sector, growing the divide between the traditional, ageing workforce and the young, technologically-advanced workforce that is choosing other industries over ours.

“ConstrucTech will help us discover exciting and innovative start-ups, whose products and services could deliver those technologies and innovations that will be the key to the future success of our business and that of the whole sector.”

Sir Tom Shebbeare – Chairman, Virgin StartUp, said: “Entrepreneurs have the power to positively disrupt whole sectors. Every day we support inspiring and innovative start-ups and help them to take their product or service to market. ConstrucTech is an important programme for start-ups that want to access opportunities within the construction sector. The challenges Colmore Tang has set are exciting and we can’t wait to partner with them to discover game-changing innovations and facilitate their adoption on building projects across the country. I urge any entrepreneur who thinks they can make a difference to apply.”

The window for applications opens today (26th March) and will remain open until 31st May. Virgin StartUp is scouting for start-ups with market-ready products or services that can address one or more of the programme challenges. Shortlisted applicants will then be asked to pitch their idea to a panel of industry experts during June, from which the programme participants will be chosen. Unlike many other accelerators, the ultimate aim of the ConstrucTech programme is to see successful companies trial their solution on one of Colmore Tang’s live sites, as well as potentially gaining access to the £10m innovation fund, in order to facilitate broader adoption of the technology.

Interested start-ups can apply to be part of ConstrucTech here: http://virginstartup.org/constructech

-ENDS-

About ConstrucTech: ConstrucTech is an open innovation programme that supports start-ups to prepare for the trial and adoption of their product or service by one of the UK’s fastest-growing contractors, Colmore Tang. The six-week programme will see participants exposed to start-up experts and mentors who will help them to prepare their business to scale, along with senior executives and site staff from Colmore Tang, who will help them to prepare their product or service for successful adoption by the contractor.

The programme has issued a global call for start-ups who can demonstrate that they can address the business challenges set out by Colmore Tang. The window for applications for the 2018 cohort is open from 26 March 2018 to 31 May 2018. The programme will run from 25 June 2018 to 3 August 2018, with successful start-ups going to trial thereafter.

About Colmore Tang Construction Ltd: Colmore Tang Construction Ltd (CTC) is one of the country’s fastest-growing contractors, headquartered in Birmingham and operating on sites across the UK. Established in 2013, the business has grown from an initial team of three to an established contractor on-track to turnover circa £80 million in 2017/18.

To date, CTC has delivered 1.45 million square feet of construction projects across 1,500 residential units, a 253-bedroom four-star hotel – the first Park Regis hotel in Europe – 100,000 square feet of BREEAM-certified industrial units and substantial high-end interior refurbishments.

The contractor currently has a pipeline of work through until 2021. This has seen a commitment for a further 3,500 residential units, mixed retail and leisure developments, additional interior refurbishment projects, as well as a new homes division to deliver traditional housebuilding.

In September 2017, CTC moved into its new state-of-the-art headquarters at Fiveways, Birmingham, which is home to the core team of 75 staff. The CTC-refurbished HQ is also a showpiece for the quality and workmanship that the contractor can deliver.

CTC is currently in the process of identifying a suitable location along the M4 corridor to open a second office, which will serve as a project office for its sites in the South of England.

In October 2017, a new group structure was announced for the business, under which two new divisions will join the main construction company, namely housebuilding and interiors.

In its first four years of business, CTC has been shortlisted for and won many prominent regional and industry awards, including: Construction Enquirer Best Main Contractor to Work With 2017, On the Tools Contractor of the Year 2016, Fastest Growth Company in the West Midlands 2016, and Birmingham Post New Business of the Year 2016. CTC has also received International Safety Awards from the British Safety Council.

About Virgin StartUp: Virgin StartUp is the not-for-profit Virgin company, supporting entrepreneurs to start, fund and scale their business. Virgin StartUp provides seed funding to early stage start-ups via the Government-backed Start Up Loans scheme, helps entrepreneurs get the skills they need to get ahead with expert-led masterclasses and supports start-ups to scale through a series of accelerator programmes, including the UK’s first crowdfunding accelerator, Crowdboost. Since launching in late 2013, the company has supported over 11,000 entrepreneurs and funded more than 2,250 start-ups with over £28m. For more information, please go to www.virginstartup.org

[1] Glenigan UK industry performance report 2017

[2] Mace Report – Moving Construction 4.0

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