Back in 2016, i3P (Infrastructure Industry Innovation Platform) morphed out of Crossrail’s hugely successful Innovate18 scheme. Capitalising on its success – which led to over 450 innovations being shared with an estimated 10% of these ideas adopted at other sites.
Building on this success, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), Tideway and Crossrail worked together to develop “i3P”, a cross-industry, multi-client initiative to connect industry partners and develop innovative solutions across a host of sector challenges and opportunities. i3P was set up as an independent innovation community, with all members committed to providing leadership in driving collaborative innovation across the infrastructure industry. The overriding ambition for i3P was to become the ‘go to place’ for collaborative innovation, focusing on economic infrastructure.
Now, 2 years into its lifetime, what difference is i3P making and what are the sector’s ambitions from here?
Innovation is becoming an increasingly critical priority, for the infrastructure and construction industry, but also for government. In 2017 we saw the launch of the Industrial Strategy, designed to create an economy for the UK that boosts productivity and earning power. As a part of this Strategy, the Construction Sector Deal set out an ambitious partnership between industry and government, the key aim being to transform the productivity of the sector through innovative technologies and a more highly skilled workforce.
Current projections of around £600 billion of public and private investment in infrastructure over the next 10 years, including a doubling of economic infrastructure in the decade 2022 to 2032. This backed by a commitment to modernise the way major projects are delivered means the Construction Sector Deal will actively stimulate and drive innovation and growth. It commits over £170m investment from government to support industry investment and further builds on the ambitions within ‘Construction 2025’, published in 2013 by government and the Construction Leadership Council (CLC).
Within the last year we have also seen the government policy papers: Transforming Infrastructure Performance and the Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy, presenting the government’s plans to improve the delivery and performance of infrastructure and to improve the efficiency of transport infrastructure specifically.
Within this overall strategic context, the challenges, opportunities and ambitions for our Sector are clear. i3P is a leading participant in developing and driving initiatives that deliver outcomes and capability that will ensure that the sector responds and delivers within the wider landscape.
2018 has been a year of progression, adaptation and advancement for i3P. Earlier this year the then-Chair of i3P Andy Mitchell (CEO Tideway) who was instrumental in the conception of i3P and had taken an active leadership role during his 18 months as Chair, handed over control to new co-Chairs, Mark Thurston (CEO HS2) and Phil Wilbraham (Planning and Programmes Director, Heathrow Airport).
At his last public appointment as i3P Chair, (the i3P SPARK Awards) Andy spoke on the future of i3P;
“There’s a bigger realisation than ever before that things have to change. i3P can challenge the thinking and convene a consistent way of working together. It’s the biggest thing i3P can do”.
Since then, both Mark and Phil have further developed the approach of i3P and have directed the focus on deliverables. Initially they reset the governance structure to include a Strategy Board that will liaise closely with other key strategic guiding minds and created a Delivery Leadership Group that will oversee and drive delivery whilst collaborating with other enabling initiatives (such as ICG Project 13). The original i3P Forums will now act as the equivalent of a ‘shareholders meeting’ for all i3P member organisations to engage.In addition, Strategic Work Streams have been formulated around the ‘core processes’ and across these a portfolio of projects is in development that draws in leadership and resources from both client and supply chain organisations. As well as the sharing of ideas and innovations, members are now committing to the Strategic Work Stream projects that will deliver tangible outcomes and capability that are aligned with and support the achievement of our sector’s objectives.
There is a now a real sense that our sector has the necessary focus and commitment to respond to the challenges and sizeable opportunities ahead of us. i3P is one part of the landscape that will strengthen and accelerate this response and we are committed absolutely to working with partners to develop the coherent voice and progressive workplans that are fully aligned and in combination will drive the sector to truly deliver transformational change.
Phil Wilbraham, i3P Co-Chair recently supported the progress i3P has made;
‘It is great that I3P is maturing into an acknowledged industry body that is the go-to place for Infrastructure innovation and learning. It is key that the industry continues to get behind the important initiatives that will continue to deliver improved productivity and greater efficiency. The essence of i3P continues to be collaborative innovation. By collaborating with both i3P members and external organisations, we will enhance the impact of innovation, harnessing it to transform the productivity of our sector’.
At this critical juncture where the imperative for increased productivity for the sector is aligned with the commitment of government to support transformational change, then the real prerequisite for success is for the whole sector to actively engage and be involved. Only by doing so can i3P drive the collaborative innovation required to transform the economic infrastructure sector.