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Centre for Digital Built Britain completed its five-year mission and closed its doors at the end of September 2022

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International Blog - DIT/BEIS Event 10 October 2018

The trade opportunities arising from the international adoption of BIM standards being pioneered in the UK was the focus of a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) event in collaboration with the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB). Adam Matthews, lead for CDBB International reflects on growing opportunities for UK export trade.

Collaboration with partner countries is growing due to global drivers and this brings huge opportunity and open doors for UK BIM-related expertise."

As the demand for UK BIM expertise grows internationally there is increasing opportunity for British companies in the global infrastructure market. The growing widespread adoption of the UK’s open standards for and collaborative approach to BIM in public infrastructure – driven by the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s (CDBB) international programme that works with partner countries to offer a strategic framework to deliver BIM at national and organisational level – presents significant export opportunity for UK firms.

CDBB chaired a BEIS and DIT event held in London this week (10 October) to promote the trade opportunity arising from the international adoption of BIM standards being pioneered in the UK. The event attracted attendees from a range of UK construction firms keen to learn more about the current international BIM landscape.

Alexandra Bolton, Deputy Director of CDBB, welcomed delegates to the UK’s International Trade Opportunity for Digital Construction event that highlighted the strategic activity of BEIS, DIT and CDBB working with governments from around the world to promote the introduction of BIM in public infrastructure programmes. Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion (DIT), and Richard Harrington, Minister for Business and Industry (BEIS), spoke to the audience of UK firms and overseas government clients about the export opportunity for BIM-related construction professional services.  

Adam at BEIS DIT Event 10 Oct

Adam Matthews presenting at the BEIS/DIT Event on 10 October 2018

Baroness Fairhead reflected on global urbanisation and the associated growth of infrastructure projects that increases need for digital and BIM-related solutions, which as a leader in BIM, the UK can deliver. The role of BEIS to support UK digital construction, and the work of the DIT to secure global prosperity by promoting and financing international trade and investment was highlighted by Richard Harrington MP, Minister for Business and Industry (BEIS). Describing the construction sector as being part of the fourth industrial revolution brought about by digital, the Minister spoke about developments in technologies and tools for construction, including off-site manufacture and advances in AI, and the ability of digital to transform the supply chain.

The work of CDBB International supports the strategic implementation of BIM to support smoother trade conditions to grow export opportunities with partner countries and the UK.

A significant part of our activity involves direct engagement with governments and public sector stakeholders in Europe, Latin America, North America, Asia and Africa to build relationships, share learning and secure the collaborative agreements that underpin the implementation of BIM across partner countries. Our programme offers partner countries training and transformation support to their national BIM developments.  This creates opportunities for partner countries to visit the UK to observe our BIM experience, access our expertise and hear directly from a diverse portfolio of UK case studies about the success and benefits of working digitally.

The event fell during a week-long visit to the UK by two high-level delegations from the Brazilian and Chilean governments organised to showcase UK digital construction. The agenda of activities included a day hosted by CDBB in Cambridge where delegates learned more about the digital built Britain programme through a number of presentations by the CDBB team, researchers and industry highlighting projects including the CDBB Digital Twin, digital transformation strategies and BIM case studies.

The UK’s International Trade Opportunity for Digital Construction event provided the centerpiece of the visit and was attended by the delegations, also scheduled to meet with members of the Institution of Civil Engineers Project 13 group, the Infrastructure Client Group, major UK contractors, and representatives from BEIS and DIT.

Pedro Capeluppi, Secretary Brazilian Government Ministry of Planning, Development and Management, addressed the audience to give an account of implementing BIM in Brazil. Secretary Capeluppi presented the pipeline of infrastructure projects currently planned for Brazil and explained the key role BIM plays in delivering efficiencies and increasing productivity, describing the Brazil-UK collaboration as “ a strategic partnership of great value”.

Carolina Soto, Director Plan BIM in Chile, also spoke at the event describing her country’s national BIM programme, which has adopted and adapted the UK strategy and includes plans to build 20 hospitals in the next four years using BIM. Director Soto stressed the pace of digital change in Chile and the need for BIM-related expertise to support progress. Chile is also driving the wider Latin America area to share best practice on the introduction of BIM to support greater alignment so that benefits can be extended throughout the region. Continued growth of the BIM programme will offer further opportunities for UK expertise.

Securing a common approach to BIM globally brings opportunities for trade. Delegates heard directly from a number of UK companies successfully exporting digital skills. The panel, chaired by James Wates, CBE, Chairman of the Wates Group and Co-Chair of Infrastructure Exports: UK (IE:UK) – a UK Industry/Government Partnership targeting infrastructure export business around the world to help UK companies secure major international contracts – included: Richard Shennan, Group Digital Business Director, Mott MacDonald; Frank Randles, Project Director, Mace; Stuart Senior, Director Gleeds; and David Miller of the SME David Miller Architects. All of the UK firms represented welcomed the international work of the CDBB programme, which includes developing memorandums of understandings between the UK and partner countries to adopt the UK’s approach of open standards and protocols around the world.

James Wates spoke about the UK as leading the world in BIM and the export opportunities that come from digital expertise. The panel explained why digital is part of their company’s international strategy and the advantages it brings. The international appetite for UK BIM-related construction services and supporting expertise was referred to as “phenomenal” and panel members said that BIM experience and expertise has provided a valuable export and skills differentiator in a competitive field.

The benefits of digital transformation in construction are clear, including leveraging through-life value of infrastructure assets, de-risking projects, and improving productivity. Collaboration with partner countries is growing due to global drivers and this brings huge opportunity and open doors for UK BIM-related expertise. If you would like to know more please do get in touch.