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Transforming UK construction: MMC, digital & whole-life performance


UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £10million for collaborative R&D projects that improve productivity, quality and performance in UK construction.

Innovate UK, part of UKRI, will invest up to £10million in UK businesses undertaking collaborative research and development (CR&D) projects. Such projects should go beyond the state-of-the-art in improving productivity, quality and performance of the UK construction sector.

This funding is from the Transforming Construction Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, part of the Construction Sector Deal.

Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes:

  • Digital information management, tools, systems and standards
  • Modern methods of construction (MMC) and platform based approaches
  • Whole-life asset performance, including active buildings
  • Business models, procurement, analytics, benchmarking and metrics
  • Financial, assurance, warranty and lending products

You should demonstrate how your project will deliver on the Transforming Construction Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund themes and the commitments detailed in the Construction Sector Deal. This must include significant industry investment. Applicants should state how their projects will support the objectives of the Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP) strategy or the Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy (TIES) as appropriate.

Open Date:


Close Date:


The aim of this competition is to invest in innovative projects that go beyond the current state-of-the-art. Projects must result in practical and close-to-market solutions that will improve productivity, quality and performance in the UK construction sector.

Your project must:

  • Show how you will assist delivery of the sector commitments detailed in the Construction Sector Deal including demonstrating industry leverage funding
  • Support the objectives of the TIP strategy and/or TIES as appropriate
  • Take a cyber-security and safety minded approach and use PAS 1192-5 and PAS1192-6 where applicable

The Transforming Construction Challenge has several stakeholders and activities that are complementary to the programme. Applicants are strongly advised to liaise with relevant stakeholders as part of the application process. Successful projects will be expected to work with these stakeholders, which include:

  • The Construction Innovation Hub and its partners
  • The Active Building Centre and its partners

For more information see the Transforming Construction Challenge page from UKRI.

The Construction Leadership Council has provided resources you could use within your project, in particular Smart Construction Dashboards, Smart Construction Case Studies and Centres of Excellence.

Innovate UK are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, scope areas, spend profiles and research categories.

Your project must focus on one or more of these themes:

Digital methods

Technology to deliver better, more certain results during the design, construction and operation of a building or infrastructure asset. These must increase asset availability, lifespan and maximise performance.

Modern methods of construction (MMC) and platform based approaches

Products, services and methods to increase the pre-manufactured value (PMV) of construction projects using MMC. This includes the preferred approach to building infrastructure, called a platform approach to design for manufacture and assembly (P-DfMA). This is a modern method of construction which is a specific form of design for manufacture and assembly.

Approaches must show an increase in productivity and delivery, minimise inefficiencies, waste and delays, and enable production in parallel with site preparation.

Projects addressing these themes must demonstrate compatibility with platform approaches already developed under the programme and specified by the Department for Education. You must communicate with the Construction Innovation Hub and its partners to determine this.

Whole-life performance

Shifting focus from the costs of construction to the value of a building or asset across its entire life-cycle, particularly in relation to the use of energy.

Business models, procurement, analytics, benchmarking and metrics

New business models and procurement methods. These enable the transformation of the sector towards MMC, supported by analytics of demand and supply chain capacity, benchmarking and sector metrics.

Financial, assurance, warranty and lending

New products to assure lending and warranty provision across buildings, homes and infrastructure that use MMC. Services and products that increase the adoption of MMC and encourage whole-life performance.

Innovate UK welcome innovative and ambitious partnerships, and encourage teams to include:

  • Project 13 methodologies and/or Gemini Principles
  • Client and supply chain relationships
  • Government departments and arm’s length bodies listed in the TIP strategy or TIES
  • Construction Leadership Council (CLC) members and work programme members
  • i3P and BuildOffsite members and programmes
  • Active Building Centre and its partners
  • Construction Innovation Hub and its partners
  • Infrastructure Clients Group members
  • Manufacturing and DFMA experts
  • Financial lenders, assurance or warranty providers
  • Digital systems developers, including data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Cyber security expertise
  • Exceptional leaders and communicators who can inform and inspire people and investors

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £150,000 and £1.5million.

Your project must start on 1 April 2020 and end by 31 March 2022. Projects should last between 12 and 24 months. The duration of your project cannot exceed 24 months under any circumstances.

Projects longer than 12 months should incur and claim the greater proportion of project costs in the 2020/2021 financial year. Your project’s spend profile is part of the assessment criteria.

You are expected to work closely with and share information with programme stakeholders. You are strongly advised to liaise with the Construction Innovation Hub and/or the Active Building Centre as appropriate before submitting an application.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Collaborate with other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations, academic institutions or charities
  • Include at least one micro, small or medium sized enterprise (SME)
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business, research organisation, public sector organisation, academic institution or charity
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • Be invited to take part by the lead organisation

Innovate UK have allocated up to £10million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • Up to 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • Up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • Up to 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • Up to 45% if you are a micro or small business
  • Up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • Up to 25% if you are a large business

This competition is not supporting feasibility studies.

Your proposal must show how you will help to deliver the sector commitments detailed in the Construction Sector Deal, including demonstrating any additional industry leverage funding.

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum is shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25, ‘Aid for R&D projects’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Innovate UK will not fund projects that:

  • Are defined as feasibility studies in the general guidance
  • Do not respond to the aims and objectives of the Transforming Construction ISCF Programme and are unable to tangibly demonstrate improvements to the current state-of-the-art in construction
  • Are focused on skills (although reference to skills as a by-product of proving new techniques is permitted)
  • Duplicate innovation in: traditional construction methods, BIM Level 2 tools, Project 13 methodologies and/or Gemini Principles, DFTG, CDBB or CLC work, MMC categories 3, 6 and 7a + 7b, or retrofit
  • Target refurbishment and retrofit of built assets

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.