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Given its still-significant reliance on an ageing workforce and the oncoming skills shortfall cliff-edge, it would be easy to mischaracterise UK construction as having dug itself too deeply into outdated methods and technologies to gain the full rewards of innovation. However, the ongoing challenges of the job have kept the building trade perpetually positioned at the very forefront of innovative developments, from initial designs through to final products. The fast-footed adaptations the sector underwent during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic only further underline that point, with construction doing more than almost any other industry to remain open for business while so many sectors were left lying dormant at best or stagnating at worst. In many ways, construction was actually ahead of the curve on this, with the key impact of the outbreak on construction actually being to accelerate trends that were already in motion, rather than to trigger an entirely new and unexpected cultural shift.

With the whole UK economy drawing itself through the post-lockdown recovery process, the challenges facing construction are evolving rather than disappearing. We’re already seeing developments in everything from Artificial Intelligence and Building Information Modelling (BIM) to off-site construction and even “robot bricklayers”, and they’re changing the game at every level of the industry. Construction, as ever, is leaning into new technologies and new thinking to become more efficient, more sustainable and – crucially – more resilient to the kinds of pressures it’s been put through in recent years.

That resilience is going to be essential going forward, from top to bottom. Construction needs to keep all of the innovative momentum it’s shown throughout the pandemic, and leverage it far beyond the building site itself. The question of architectural adaptation in a more socially distanced world, just to pick out an example, has already been forcefully posed by world events—but we’re talking about much more than simply shuffling the furniture around inside a building and throwing up a few cautionary signs. Architects are starting to rethink the ways people navigate spaces, both commercial and communal. Conventional ideas of “resilience”, typically revolving around accidents and disasters, are broadening to recognise the need to consider and mitigate equally disruptive and dangerous threats like infection risk. That type of resilience naturally requires all the expected practical measures, of course, such as ensuring adequate ventilation—but it also demands solutions to more complex problems like maintaining social distance, whether in an office building or a public space. Meanwhile, the rise in popularity and practicality of remote working is influencing building design itself, steering it less toward dedicated, increasingly inefficient single-purpose structures and more into the more versatile territory of mixed-use buildings.

All of these shifting demands require a change in approach – in some cases right back to first principles. That’s where the strength and spirit of the UK construction community really shines. From every corner of the sector, leading thinkers and innovators are gathering to share ideas, solve problems and build a more resilient industry. The convention and expo calendar for June 2022 alone has a number of dates with promising implications for UK construction, including:

  • Construction Excellence SECBE Gala dinner and Awards Night (30th)
    Now in its 16th year and RIFT R&D’s 5th year as sponsors. These awards are a celebration of the very best ideas and accomplishments in the construction sector across London and the South East.
  • London Tech Week (13th-17th)
    The UK’s flagship technology event, featuring over 20,000 participants and 300 speakers over 5 days. Topics covered range from exploration of the never generation of tech innovation to impactful innovation at scale.
  • Spark (21st-22nd)
    An event where energy leaders and innovators gather to reshape the future of the sector. 350 senior speakers will be discussing everything from digital and power innovation to the decarbonisation of buildings and transport.

If you're in the business of breaking through barriers and pushing back boundaries, whether in construction or elsewhere, you could be due invaluable R&D Tax Relief. We can help you identify historic qualifying activity and get the credit you deserve. Call 01233 653002.