The Centre for Digital Built Britain at the University of Cambridge has joined forces with the Manufacturing Technology Centre and Building Research Establishment to transform the way that infrastructure is designed, built and used.

The Transforming Construction Alliance brings together experts specialising in digital, manufacturing, building performance standards and construction technology. It has been awarded £72 million by Innovate UK to deliver the Core Innovation Hub, a key investment to transform productivity in the construction sector within the Transforming Construction Programme, funded from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Announcing the award at BRE Watford on Friday, Business & Industry Minister Richard Harrington said: “We have the opportunity to revolutionise construction in the UK and the Core Innovation Hub will help us build smarter, greener and more efficient buildings much faster and cheaper than we do now.

“From the introduction of virtual reality to off-site manufacturing, our modern Industrial Strategy is helping the UK construction sector to develop new techniques and skills - modernising the sector and delivering the homes and buildings our nation needs.”

The CIH will act as the focal point for construction-related innovation, and strengthen links between the research base and businesses. It will support collaboration to develop and commercialise digital and manufacturing technologies for the construction sector to enable the schools, hospitals and infrastructure of the future to be built with strong levels of safety, quality and energy performance.

Through it, the CDBB will continue to develop a framework, pilot projects and set of principles to guide the development of digital twins for built assets and infrastructure, to ensure that the data is interoperable, supporting better integration of services across the built environment. Through its research, policy and change programmes it will support the promotion and adoption of effective information management and the digital transformation of the built environment. These new digital tools, standards and technologies will create new business and export opportunities for the UK infrastructure sector, and ensure that our social and economic infrastructure is designed, built and operated to improve people's quality of life.

Civil engineer Keith Waller has been appointed Programme Director to lead the Transforming Construction Alliance. He led the development of the government’s recent Transforming Infrastructure Performance report. “I look forward to working alongside government, industry and the talented teams at MTC, BRE and CDBB to realise the vision of a transformed construction sector,” he said.

“There is huge potential for transformation of large parts of the construction sector to a manufacturing industry,” said Neil Rawlinson, Strategic Development Director at MTC. “The widespread appetite for change throughout the industry and the impact that this change will have on so many aspects of life in the UK make us enormously excited to be delivering this pivotal role. The complementary skills of the alliance partners will ensure we deliver for industry and government.”

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will strengthen research and innovation in science and business in the UK. Its Transforming Construction programme aims to support £600 billion worth of infrastructure and construction projects over the next decade, creating new processes and techniques, including standardisation of modular components for manufacture.