Last edited 04 May 2016

Rethinking Construction Innovation and Research: A Review of Government Policies and Practices

The Fairclough Report, ‘Rethinking Construction Innovation and Research: A Review of Government R & D Policies and Practices’, was produced by Sir John Fairclough and published by the Department of Trade and Industry in 2002 (not to be confused with the 1998 Egan Report 'Rethinking Construction').

The purpose of the report was to undertake a thorough review of how government-funded research and development could be enhanced, with the aim of leading to overall improvements in the construction process.The review was based on examining existing data sources and developing new databases. Surveys were also undertaken, both within the UK and internationally, and a workshop was held with the Reading Construction Forum.

The report identifies five key drivers of change which need to set the agenda for the construction industry at large:

  • Committed leadership.
  • A focus on the customer.
  • Integrated processes and teams.
  • A quality driven-agenda and commitment to people.

The targets of the report include annual reductions of 10% in construction cost and construction time, it also proposes that defects in projects should be reduced by 20% per year. It considered all processes from design, planning and construction through to the end use of buildings.

The report had the following contents:


Executive Summary.


Part 1 Background and evidence.

  • Chapter 1 Assembling the evidence.
  • Chapter 2 Current research funding and participation.
  • Chapter 3 Industry’s strategic engagement with government funded R&D.
  • Chapter 4 Ensuring skills for the future.
  • Chapter 5 The international dimension.

Part 2 Government’s role in supporting construction R&D.

  • Chapter 6 Government’s role in supporting construction R&D.
  • Chapter 7 Government as regulator.
  • Chapter 8 Government as sponsor.
  • Chapter 9 Government as client.
  • Chapter 10 Government as policy maker.

Part 3 Conclusions and recommendations.

  • Chapter 11 Conclusions and recommendations.


The main conclusions of the review are summarise below:

  • Existing government investment in construction research and development should remain and be protected, with an increase in investment supporting productivity, value for public sector clients and strategic issues.
  • The report acknowledged the construction industry’s contribution to the quality of life agenda and suggested that the priorities for research and development should be based on strategic analysis of the issues that are faced by the sector.
  • The Strategic Forum for Construction is a key part of the strategic industry thinking and new arrangements should be sought for prioritising research and development based on the start made by the Construction Research and Innovation Strategy Panel.
  • A longer programme of research is required based on the analysis of problems, with the procurement of research and development on skills and merit.
  • Collaborative working is needed along with the better communication of results.
  • Government research and development procurement needs to be tailored to reflect the reasons for the support (as regulator, sponsor, client and policy maker).
  • Procurement of research and development on merit will encourage the development of centres of excellence.
  • Teams working on research and development should be multi-disciplinary with a greater flow of people between both industry and academic institutes.
  • A closer working relationship should be encouraged between the traditional construction research organisations, and knowledge from outside the UK should be made available.
  • The best innovators should be supported and encouraged to participate in the Teaching Company Schemes.

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