Birmingham-based Colmore Tang Construction has launched a construction industry-first technology accelerator programme called ‘ConstrucTech’ working alongside Virgin StartUp. And Colmore Tang and Virgin StartUp are calling on entrepreneurs and businesses to apply to the ConstrucTech programme for help in developing new initiatives.

The £10m ‘ConstrucTech’ fund is available to companies that can successfully show how their innovation and technology could improve the sector’s productivity, sustainability and skills issues.  

Construction in the UK has been slow to embrace innovation and adopt new technology. A study by MACE found that over a third of construction projects in the UK overrun on time (40%) or budget (35%). It’s believed technology can help fill this void and Colmore Tang has identified a number of key areas within its business, and the industry as a whole, which it believes could benefit from the contribution of enterprising start-ups.

Andy Robinson, Group chief executive at Colmore Tang, said: “The debate around technology in construction needs to move forward quickly. Other industries are much better at seeing the potential in technology and grasping opportunities to boost productivity and commercial gain.

“Construction is falling behind and it’s having a negative impact on the sector, growing the divide between the traditional, ageing workforce and the young, technologically-advanced workforce that is choosing other industries over ours.

“ConstrucTech will help us discover exciting and innovative start-ups, whose products and services could deliver those technologies and innovations that will be the key to the future success of our business and that of the whole sector.”

Colmore Tang is providing start-ups with the opportunity to use the programme as a test bed and development platform to bring products and ideas to the construction sector. It’s hoped the £10m innovation behind ConstrucTech will be the spark to improve lacklustre productivity levels and also begin addressing the need to re-skill over half a million construction workers to suit the industry’s future.

Colmore Tang and Virgin StartUp are calling for businesses to apply to the ConstrucTech programme to address the following problems:

  • People: improving analysis of performance, sharing best practice across building projects, measurement of quality and also implementation of health and safety.

  • Data: using data to pre-empt potential delays, more efficient material ordering, more effective use of labour along with use of performance data to improve cost, timescales and estimates of new projects for future clients.

  • Smart Materials: design and implementation of materials to improve sustainability; improve safety and finding materials which are digitally connected.

Virgin StartUp has previously run similar programmes for Virgin Trains (Platform-X) and it also developed the UK’s first Crowdfunding accelerator programme (Crowdboost). This will be the first time the not-for-profit has partnered with a company outside the Virgin Group.

Sir Tom Shebbeare, Chairman of Virgin StartUp, said: “Entrepreneurs have the power to positively disrupt whole sectors. Every day we support inspiring and innovative start-ups and help them to take their product or service to market. ConstrucTech is an important programme for start-ups that want to access opportunities within the construction sector. The challenges Colmore Tang has set are exciting and we can’t wait to partner with them to discover game-changing innovations and facilitate their adoption on building projects across the country. I urge any entrepreneur who thinks they can make a difference to apply.”

The window for applications will remain open until 31st May. Virgin StartUp is scouting for start-ups with market-ready products or services that can address one or more of the programme challenges. Shortlisted applicants will then be asked to pitch their idea to a panel of industry experts during June, from which the programme participants will be chosen. Unlike many other accelerators, the ultimate aim of the ConstrucTech programme is to see successful companies trial their solution on one of Colmore Tang’s live sites, as well as potentially gaining access to the £10m innovation fund, in order to facilitate broader adoption of the technology.

Interested start-ups can apply to be part of ConstrucTech here:

PHOTOGRAPH: Matthew Sylvester (Engineer for Colmore Tang Construction – CTC), Andy Robinson (Group CEO, Colmore Tang), Louise Perry (Head of Sustainability for CTC) & Stuart Harrison (Head of Design for CTC)