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i3P SME Programme Launch – Update

On Thursday 2nd April we saw the ‘digital’ launch of the SME programme. 

Thanks to Mark Thurston, i3P Co-Chair & HS2 (High Speed Two) Ltd CEO for opening the event (his first opening address done digitally!) and to the panel members; Sam Stacey, Challenge Director – Transforming Construction, Innovate UK, Ana Avaliani Head of Enterprise at the Royal Academy of Engineering and Colin Evison, BAM Nuttall Ltd & special thanks to Elspeth Finch MBE for chairing the event.

Thanks to those who joined and for expressing your interest in the programme.

All questions from the event have been asked and answered by the panel members below plus a link to a full recording of the webinar for those that couldn’t join us!

Stayed tuned for a follow-up to include the presentations & information on the next steps.

Any questions on the programme please contact Elspeth Finch MBE or Colin Evison . Stay safe & keep innovating!

 

Q&A

 

How it works in practise

 

There have been several references to improving productivity, increasing growth and decarbonising the industry, what is the interest and appetite like for companies to improve the health and safety of workers?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

As Mark Thurston stated during the webinar, Health + Safety underpins everything that i3P and its members do and is one of the four focus areas of i3P. Health and safety innovations are extremely welcome and some companies providing Health and Safety innovations have already been invited to the SME Ecosystem.

Sam Stacey, IUK;

We regard improving the health, safety and wellbeing of workers as important and generally find that innovations in productivity etc. come with benenfits to HS&W, however happy to support HS&W-focussed solutions.

Colin Evison, Bam Nuttall

We constantly strive to improve the health and safety of our workforce. This is an area where the SME programme should speed the adoption of new solutions across the whole industry.

 

What does success look like? What would the i3P SME Programme like to have achieved in 12 months’ time?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

The aim of the programme is unlocking innovation hidden in the SME supply chain to drive adoption of new technologies to deliver impact and business growth. We’ll know this is happening when SMEs report that they are being included in bids and being used for project deployments, rather than in proof of concept or pilot studies.

 

If an SME has a i3P innovation that is proven with a great ROI, can the SME promote it, or do other i3P partners have to look for it? Is there a monthly buliten showing best projects?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

When an SME joins the ecosystem they can identify projects with members that they would like to be included as part of their profile. The i3P member will then endorse the project, sharing the impact (where appropriate). i3P partners can search and browse projects at any time but there will also be a series of showcase emails to draw attention to the most impactful projects.

 

Practically , how does an SME make the I3P community aware of an existing innovation and/or look for support for devloping a new innovation. Does this have to go through I3P members in some way.

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

The i3P SME Ecosystem is focused on scale up companies, with proven products and services that are ready to scale so is ideal to promote existing innovations that have evidenced impact. New ideas and innovations should be developed in the normal way with partners or can be brought to the i3P Delivery Leadership Group which meets monthly – contact Sarah Jacobs for more information

 

There has been a lot of discusssion around leveraging and scaling-up technology solutions from start-ups and SMEs – rightly so. But what is the panel’s view on the need to create the right – joined-up, collaborative, supporting – culture and leadership across all the involved organisations and how SMEs who operate int his space can help leverage the desired results.

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

i3P is considering how it best expands its membership to drive real impact in the industry. If you would like to contribute to this discussion, please contact Sarah Jacobs.

 

Our learning is that it is imperative to engage at product procurement stage. How does the industry promote successful innovation to its own contracting and bid/tender teams to consider reuse?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

The industry is project driven and both clients and their Tier 1 suppliers recognise this and are becoming increasingly aligned about their requirements and ambitions but we recognise that there is more to do on this. Follow i3P on LinkedIn to keep up to date with developments.

Sam Stacey, IUK

The Transforming Construction programme is sponsoring development of a ‘procuring for value’ tool (following work by the Construction Leadership Council). This is likely to be adopted by i3P members and will facilitate the uptake of innovation.

 

Will SME’s have access to the i3P portal so they can see if someone has already worked on an innovation similar?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

SMEs will only have access to their own profile however the four focus areas of i3P are public and communications showcasing projects will also be public. Follow on Linked in / join the mailing list.

 

Is the SME scheme available to those who only supply to i3p members via sub-contractors or even deeper down the supply chain?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

Absolutely, the aim of the scheme is to unlock innovation hidden in the supply chain. When an SME joins the ecosystem they can identify projects that they would like to be included as part of their profile and can state both their client and the end client. We’re also interested in proven innovation in adjacent industries e.g. health and safety innovations used in manufacturing are already featured on the SME Ecosystem.

 

How do we raise awareness of our innovation with the Rail Infrastructure owners and obtain product acceptance for use on the infrastructure?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

The aim of the scheme is to provide evidence of innovations that are delivering impact. The intention is that members can see who has led the deployment of different innovations and get in touch with them to learn more about deploying it in their own case. Some innovations will need more support than this and, if so, teams can get in touch with the i3P Delivery Leadership Group which meets monthly. Contact Sarah Jacobs.

 

How can we provide better links between SME’s that i3P is working with, and tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers to the construction sector.

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

The aim of the scheme is to unlock innovation hidden in the supply chain. When an SME joins the ecosystem they can identify projects that they would like to be included as part of their profile and can state both their client and the end client. We’re also interested in proven innovation in adjacent industries e.g. health and safety innovations used in manufacturing are already featured on the SME Ecosystem. Any Tier 2 and 3 suppliers that aren’t members can still follow i3P on Linked In and Twitter and see the innovations that are showcased there.

Procurement & Tier 1

 

My company has found it very challenging to centralise purchasing on large infrastructure projects, dealing with a fragmented supply chain. Tideway and HS2 being examples of such. How will you encourage centralised purchasing?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

It is difficult to access the right people, even within a single organisation. This is why the SME Ecosystem has been launched to make it easier for Clients and members to unlock innovation hidden in the supply chain.The industry is project driven and both clients and their Tier 1 suppliers recognise this and are becoming increasingly aligned about their requirements and ambitions but we recognise that there is more to do on this. Follow i3P on LinkedIn to keep up to date with developments.

 

Do you think that ‘boom and bust’ workloads for individual Tier 1s tends to mitigate against investment in relationships with SMEs and perhaps also against taking perceived risks in projects?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

Colin Evison touched on this during the panel session. He noted that it is easier to innovate where long term framework contracts are in place but noted that Tideway have made great efforts to be joined up across the programme of projects. He’s not sure how we can regulate – it’s better to transfer risk by working across sectors.

Colin Evison, Bam Nuttall;

The Government goes some way to addressing this issue at an industry level by publishing the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline.

 

If you could save 40% on investment costs by applying a new innovative solution (for instance on noise barriers), how would you cope with your procurement procedures? Because those procedures tend to stop innovation by requesting really innovative products that have been proven for more than 30 years.

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

The round tables and industry engagement found four barriers to engagement 1) The ability to find validated innovations ready to scale 2) Funding for adoption 3) Simplifying buying and 4) Capacity building for SMEs. The SME Ecosystem aims to address the first barrier – ability for members to find validated innovations and for SMEs to get access to market. Further work is being planned to address the other barriers. Follow i3P to be kept up to date on this

 

It is very difficult for an SME to get onto a Framework contract – should i3P assist in building a new framework system?

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

The round tables and industry engagement found four barriers to engagement 1) The ability to find validated innovations ready to scale 2) Funding for adoption 3) Simplifying buying and 4) Capacity building for SMEs. The SME Ecosystem aims to address the first barrier – ability for members to find validated innovations and for SMEs to get access to market. Further work is being planned to address the other barriers. Follow i3P to be kept up to date on this.

How can remote immediate digital collaboration positively impact decision making on large programmes

 

Innovate UK & Finance

 

Why is it so difficult for SME’s to access InnovateUK funding, and will InnovateUK be part of the i3P group?

Sam Stacey, IUK;

Innovate UK are integrated with i3P – supporting this programme as well as involved in the regular strategy group. In terms of funding – around 50% of our R+D goes to SMEs, but with a bigger partner.

Colin Evison, Bam Nuttall;

Our experience of the Transforming Construction Challenge has been positive. We have a live project from Round 1 where an SME is the lead partner and have just started a project in Round 2 where an SME is the lead partner. Smart Grants can be harder to access though due to high number of applicants and financial checks for SME’s can be difficult to overcome.

 

Compared to other industries have we been slow to adopt robotics and automation. Are we overcoming the problems of working on sites now and making progress with automated construction? It seems a waste to have a wholly digital process which then plays out with someone using manual tools…

Sam Stacey, IUK;

Construction will adopt robotics in several ways. The push to do more offisite facilitates the use of robots already developed for other industries. As momentum builds robotics companies will invest in more construction-specific solutions. My programme is also sponsoring research in this specific area https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=EP%2FS031464%2F1

 

With current circumstances and government announcements on Procurement Policy, Construction Leadership Council, etc. How do we envision the rope being cut on lengthy procurement programmes with the likes of Homes England, Network Rail, Highways England, and any government led infrastructure? Many frameworks last up to 2022, 2023 which prevents innovation from coming into supply chain

Sam Stacey, IUK;

If I understand the question correctly, the award of a framework constract does not preclude the introduction of innovation during the programme, in fact it is highly conducive to it.

 

Are client organisations able to match InnovateUK funding? That might help to unlock innovation from the supply chain.

Elspeth Finch, IAND;

Innovate UK grants require some degree of match funding depending on the project and size of the company involved.

Sam Stacey, IUK;

Some client organisations, including i3P members have their own innovation pots, but this is separate from Innovate UK. I suggest i3P publicises these where applicable.

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