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

This website remains as a legacy of the achievements of our five-year foundational journey towards a digital built Britain

Henry Fenby-Taylor, the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s Head of Information Management explores the start-up ecosystem in construction and how a new report from the Construction Innovation Hub can help those looking to set up or invest in start-ups.

Innovation in the built environment has never been more important. The Construction Innovation Hub’s vision is a world-leading construction and infrastructure sector, future-proofed through collective innovation, that delivers long-term environmental, economic and social benefits for the UK.

Funded by Government in 2018 with £72 million from UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the Construction Innovation Hub brings together world-class expertise from BRE, the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) at the University of Cambridge and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC). We believe that collective innovation can catalyse the change needed for our built environment to deliver better outcomes for current and future generations.

However, the delivery of innovative products and services involves a host of stakeholders, and so we undertook research to better understand the investment landscape.

Published today Designing an Accelerator for the Construction Sector 9 March 2022 is a practical guide to supporting start-up firms and entrepreneurs within the built environment sector - to help them thrive, and work towards the goal of building a resilient and sustainable future.

The report was prepared for the Hub by Stewart McTavish, Chief Platform Officer at Deeptech Labs who has worked with the Construction Innovation Hub on a project investigating how best to accelerate innovation in the construction sector with a focus on start-ups in the areas related to Platform Design for Manufacture and Assembly (PDfMA). 

This report demonstrates the diverse and vibrant start-up ecosystem that exists in the built environment and offers practical tips for those looking at investing in entrepreneurs delivering digital transformation. There is now intensive investment in the built environment innovation sector.

To understand the opportunities and the pitfalls of the built environment’s unique innovation ecosystem we interviewed hundreds of start-ups to understand their journey through the start-up process.

We found that the UK excels at investing in start-ups which enables a host of new services and products to emerge into the market. However, we noted that at Series A, where companies move to scale, that funding was less forthcoming in the UK compared to other countries. This is a clear gap and an opportunity for others to meet.

We recommend that organisations involved in developing and supporting entrepreneurs in the built environment consider how they can create a pipeline for the growth of new businesses and disruptive business models. The opportunity to take risks and try new things is central to the sector meeting its sustainability and productivity objectives.

This report is part of a project funded by the Construction Innovation Hub investigating the opportunity to create an acceleration programme and aimed at increasing the level of start-up entrepreneurship in relation to P-DfMA in the construction industry.