ISCF Transforming Construction Demonstrators

1. What are the Innovate UK CR&D & Demonstrator competitions?

The next and final round of Transforming Construction R&D funding opens on the 28th August 2019. Delivered by Innovate UK, part of UKRI, the funding will include investment of up to £10m in a Collaborative R&D programme, and up to £26m in a Demonstrator programme.

Collaborative R&D Programme

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £10m for CR&D projects that go beyond the state-of-the-art in improving productivity, quality and performance of the UK construction sector.

Demonstrator Programme

An investment portfolio of up to £26m is available in Demonstrator projects that demonstrate improvements in productivity, quality and performance of the UK construction sector. These will include new validations of business models, digital approaches to design, construction and management, advancements in modern methods of construction and approaches to whole-life performance of a building or assets.

Project applications must demonstrate how the outputs will assist delivery of the sector commitments detailed in the Sector Deal and the objectives of the TIES and TIP Strategy.

The competition brief details can be accessed via the Innovation Funding Service.

2. How do I decide which competition is right for my idea?

Please read the information about each competition carefully, but as a general guide, see below.

CR&D Competition

  • A product, process, service or technology under development
  • It is close to market
  • It represents a step forward in terms of at least one of
    • Digital methods
    • Modern methods of construction (MMC) and platform based approaches
    • Whole-life performance – including Active Building approaches
    • Business models, procurement, analytics, benchmarking and metrics
    • Financial, assurance, warranty and lending

You need the CR&D competition.

Demonstrator Competition

A solution that is:

  • Demonstrable at scale now
  • Represents a step change for one or more of:
    • Modern methods of construction (MMC) and platform based approaches
    • Whole-life performance
    • Information Management
    • Business models, procurement, analytics, benchmarking and metrics
    • Delivery of national infrastructure & housing
  • You are looking for an opportunity to de-risk its adoption on a client project and get the learning and exposure

You need the Demonstrator competition.

CIH Platform Design Call

If you have a product / technology and what you want is to develop new propositions and routes to market by integrating it into future-facing platform design & construction solutions for major repeat clients -  and get to learn and work with industry leading experts who will help you refine and adapt to be leading edge, you need the CIH Platform Design Call.

3. Can I apply to more than one of the CR&D, Demonstrator and Open Call competitions?

Yes in principle but please note there are limits to the number of applications any one business can be involved in for the Innovate UK competitions. Please see the competition brief for details of these. Applications to all three calls will be judged on their merits and in the context of other applications to that call. Your participation in any one call should not be dependent upon success in another.

4. What is the Construction Innovation Hub?

The Construction Innovation Hub forms a central part of the Construction Sector Deal, with £72m of Grant Funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to help deliver the ambitions of the Transforming Construction Challenge. The mission of the Hub is to be a catalyst for transforming the UK construction sector through manufacturing technologies and digital ways of working – boosting productivity, exports and asset performance to benefit society. The Hub will support the delivery of a number of key activities, including:

  • bringing advanced manufacturing technologies and systems from other sectors into construction
  • developing a “kit of parts” from which manufactured schools, hospitals and houses can be constructed
  • developing a set of standards, rules and tests to ensure that these components meet stringent fire safety, quality and performance criteria
  • developing the digital rules and standards that help measure, manage and drive performance beyond the design and construction through to operation
  • all underpinned by security protocols that helps ensure the right information is with the right people at the right time.

By working closely with government, the Hub will help build the commercial models and procurement approaches that will enable government clients to use their purchasing power and long term pipeline to take advantage of more productive solutions; in parallel the Hub will be working with industry to build capability and capacity to develop the skills, tools, products and processes that support a productive, vibrant, world-leading UK industry.

The Construction Innovation Hub is a collaboration between:

The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC): one of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres, the MTC has some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment in the world enabling it to provide a specialised environment for the development and demonstration of innovation to be used on an industrial scale. The MTC already has a proven track record developing new technologies and manufacturing systems for a range of other sectors including Food and Drink, General Industrial, Defence, Automotive and Aerospace, and is promoting the advantages of adapting new technologies like automation, robotics and virtual reality for the benefit of the construction industry.

BRE: an international, multi-disciplinary, building science organisation with a mission to improve buildings and infrastructure through research and knowledge generation, and their application. BRE employs over 600 people in the UK, China, India, the Middle East and the USA who are committed to building a better world together.

Centre for Digital Built Britain: a partnership between the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of Cambridge to deliver a smart digital economy for infrastructure and construction for the future and transform the UK construction industry’s approach to the way we plan, build, maintain and use our social and economic infrastructure.

5. What is the Active Building Centre?

The Active Building Centre is funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the Transforming Construction Challenge through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, bringing together academia, industry and government to help transform construction.  As such the Active Building Centre supports the Industrial Strategy Challenge which has a buildings mission to at least halve the energy use of new buildings by 2050 – heating and powering buildings accounts for 40% of our total energy use in the UK. Hosted by Swansea University, the Active Building Centre works collaboratively with nine other Universities and a range of industrial partners.

Core principles of the Active Building Centre

  • To convene industry, academia and government to support the creation of Active Buildings and transform the energy and construction sectors
  • To transform the way the UK designs, constructs and operates buildings by realising the potential for the integration of innovative renewable technologies with state-of-the-art digital design

If your Construction R&D call project idea concerns renewable energy systems (generation, storage and management) and their integration into buildings then you should refer to the Active Building Centre.

6. What is an Active Building?


Active Buildings support the energy network by intelligently integrating renewable technologies for heat, power and transport.

Active Buildings are designed to be energy efficient, with novel ways of controlling and releasing energy. These buildings have the potential to be energy self-sufficient and, when connected with other Active Buildings in a network, have the ability to support each other and the wider energy infrastructure (including electric vehicles).

General principles for Active Building design

  1. Building fabric and passive design – integrated engineering and architectural design approach including consideration of building orientation and form, efficiency of external envelope (walls, floors, roofs, windows, doors), natural daylighting and natural ventilation. Designed for occupant comfort and low energy use.
  2. Energy efficient systems – intelligently controlled & energy efficient systems to minimise energy used for heat, power and lighting. Data collection via inbuilt monitoring systems to enable optimisation and refinement of predictive control strategies.
  3. On-site renewable energy generation – renewable energy generation to be incorporated where appropriate. Renewable energy technologies should be selected holistically, given site conditions and predicted occupancy patterns and energy use.
  4. Energy storage – storage of both heat and electricity should be considered to mitigate peak energy use, reduce the size of storage systems, and enable greater control of energy.
  5. Electric vehicle integration – where appropriate Active Buildings integrate electric vehicle charging. As technology develops, bi-directional charging will allow electric vehicles to share energy with buildings as required, acting as an additional storage device.
  6. Intelligently manage integration with micro-grids & national energy network – in addition to intelligent control of building systems, Active Buildings manage their interaction with wider energy networks, e.g. reducing or shifting their energy consumption when electricity demand from the grid threatens to exceed supply, and methods to predict the optimum times to import or export energy.

7. How does the Active Building Centre support projects?

The Active Building Centre is helping to deliver a pipeline of Active Building demonstrators which will gather the evidence and prove the case for Active Buildings as a solution to help reduce the UK’s carbon emissions from buildings.  Our approach is to act as “innovation partner” to partner projects through the provision of expertise and access to our network.

Projects applying for CR&D or Demonstrator may be suitable for inclusion in the Active Building Centre demonstration programme, though this is not a mandatory requirement of the funding calls.

Projects which link the activities of CIH and the Active Building Centre are encouraged and are of interest.

8. What help can the Active Building Centre give me in applying to the Innovate UK CR&D or Demonstrator competitions?

Please note that Active Building Centre is not running these competitions and is not involved in the formal assessment and award of funding. We cannot provide general services for finding partners, developing projects or writing bids. If you require help to find a project collaborator, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

What the Active Building Centre can do is:

  • Provide you with advice on the fit between your project idea and the Active Building Centre programme and objectives. This will help you to demonstrate that your project is compatible with and additional to the work government is already funding through the Active Building Centre.
  • Make introductions to the Active Building Centre’s network of partners where we feel there is potential for them to add value to your project consortium.
  • Signpost you to other engagement opportunities with the Active Building Centre and start a dialogue which will lead to knowledge transfer and joint dissemination between the Active Building Centre and successful projects.

It is up to you demonstrate in your application to the Innovate UK competitions how (if at all) you have engaged with the Active Building Centre, that you understand the wider context into which your project fits and that it is not duplicating or contradicting work that government is already funding through the Transforming Construction Challenge.

9. Do I have to engage with the Active Building Centre?

You are not required to engage directly with the Active Building Centre if you don’t feel it is relevant to your idea and you are able to demonstrate your knowledge of the context and the additionality of your project.  The Active Building Centre is not “approving” projects on behalf of Innovate UK. It is not compulsory for you to have the Active Building Centre as a partner on your project.

Successful projects will be expected to share information and dissemination platforms with the Active Building Centre and the wider Transforming Construction Challenge.

10. Where do I go if I have a question about eligibility, the application process, funding rate or state aid for the CR&D and Demonstrator calls?

Please refer to the competition briefs for these calls available on the Innovation Funding Service. If you need more information, email Innovate UK at [email protected] or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 between 9am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.

Find out about a series of events being held across the UK.

If you wish to find out more about the Active Building Centre in line with the Innovate UK Funding Call, please complete our contact form including the reference: ‘Innovate UK Funding’.

One of our team will be in touch.

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