The future of the building technologies industry in the West Midlands received a boost this week with the signing of a contract worth more than £750,000 to establish a Regional Centre for Knowledge and Innovation in Building Technologies.
Co-funded by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands and the DTI, the contract was signed by Ceram Chief Executive, Dr Neil Sanderson, on August 19th. The AWM funding is in collaboration with Business Link Staffordshire, which is taking the lead in construction in the West Midlands, UK and through the DTI Partners in Innovation Scheme.
The centre, located at Ceram, is based on the highly successful Building Technology division at Ceram, which provides consultancy, product development and large-scale structural testing services to the construction sector.
It will provide the construction industry with fast and easy access to information services on all building technologies via an online smart software service.
The centre will also support innovation in building technologies by subsidising product development for small to medium sized enterprises and assist networking in specialist areas such as prefabricated construction.
The project builds on Ceram’s success in innovative construction techniques using highly perforated clay units, thicker than those currently used, to make a stable construction with excellent thermal, acoustic and fire-proof characteristics.
Once established, the Innovation Centre will have strong regional links with the Rethinking Construction centres and local training bodies.
Innovative product development is a catalyst for job creation and consolidates industry by harnessing the knowledge and expertise of local companies through networking.
Minister of State for Energy and Construction Brian Wilson will officially open the Centre at Ceram on December 3rd.
General Manager of the Regional Centre for Knowledge and Innovation in Building Technologies, Mervyn Kirk said:
“The centre is a great way to deliver locally the agenda set for construction by Sir John Egan in his report ‘Rethinking Construction’. The Egan vision of Investment in research and development, driven by innovation, resulting in improved performance and enhanced competitiveness and productivity”.
“The support from Advantage West Midlands is significant and will enable us to work with companies to generate a real impact on the regional economy.”