Pushing the industry forward, one innovation at a time

The Infrastructure Industry Innovation Platform (i3P) is an innovative new platform that allows the brightest minds in infrastructure to collaborate to deliver infrastructure for the future. Natasha Levanti reports.

As newfound sciences and innovations abound, the imagination is the limit to what is probable, with funding as the limit to what can become both possible as well as certain. The greatest human advancements may have been inspired by one person, but progress only really begins to accelerate when bright people unite for a common goal. 

There is a choice for all those working within our industry - to make the most of innovations and remain competitive globally, or to approach projects in the same way they have always been done and become obsolete in the marketplace. 

Innovation is the lifeblood of our industry’s success and the reason why we are trusted with the very landscape of our society and our world. The demand on our infrastructure is clear; to continue to meet the needs of society, as those needs evolve at a faster rate than ever before.

This can only be done by fostering innovation to glean what is probable, maintaining a research and development programme sufficient to turn probable into possible, as well as a willingness to utilise these newfound innovations in real projects.

This is how our industry evolves, by new innovations gaining enough backing that they turn into reality, de-risking these innovations for use in future infrastructure.

Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), a network partner of Innovate UK, specialises in connecting funding to new innovations, helping de-risk innovation by ensuring that cost does not prohibit the much needed innovations that will strengthen the UK economy. 

Operating across a variety of sectors it is within KTN that the Infrastructure Industry Innovation Platform (i3P) was developed in 2016. Confronting the perception that infrastructure is not sufficiently collaborative and that project-specific creativity gets lost, i3P is intended to transform ideas into opportunity as well as ensure that lessons or innovations from a single project are fed back into the industry, fostering progress and increasing the value of infrastructure more widely. 

Composed of seven clients and 14 tier one contractors or consultants, the group aims to showcase and capitalise on innovations from throughout the supply chain. The aim is to make procurement easier by de-risking the selection of innovative practises through this neutral broker, facilitating collective knowledge. 

Still under development, the i3P initiative will have a public list of innovations, relevant news items, and member meetings to share further practical experiences. Intended as a trusted collaborative space, i3P aims to improve the global competitiveness of UK, ensuring that UK industry offers innovative solutions to infrastructure needs worldwide.  

By fostering a truly collaborative culture of innovation across both infrastructure clients and their supply chains, i3P is creating a ‘safe space’ to identify areas for potential industry improvement, share ideas, and enable members to partner in projects that drive increased value across the infrastructure industry.

As our industry faces more and more challenges ahead, capitalising on innovation and de-risking the use of such innovation in infrastructure will be vital for the future. While select individual companies foster innovation as well as research and development within their service offerings, progress can be halted at the limitations of what one company alone can do. 

An online innovation portal, hosted on the i3P website is accessible by the staff of all member organisations and facilitates the sharing of innovation. The portal enables members to upload and download content, provides a trusted collaborative space and a ‘toolkit’ and connects members from different organisations to share expertise and ideas. The innovation portal will be interfaced into the individual innovation management systems owned and governed by each client member.

Leveraging on the innovation knowledge throughout the supply chain, i3P can ensure that those working in the infrastructure supply chain offer services that are ‘ground-breaking’ on the domestic as well as the international stage. 

Innovation will continue to be the lifeblood of our industry and it is through initiatives such as i3P that we can truly capitalise on this across the industry.