Last edited 16 Jan 2021

Open Innovation programme

Innovation lab.jpg

On 5 January 2017, the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) announced the launch of its first Innovation Lab, billed as a ‘radical new approach’ to built environment innovation.

The Innovation Lab aims to co-create innovative and sustainable solutions to the systemic challenges facing businesses within the sector. The format of the lab encourages collaboration so that organisations tackle a common challenge, sharing the risk and any rewards.

This is an attempt to move away from the traditional avoidance of open innovation within the sector because of the perception of compromising intellectual property. However, UK-GBC claim to have worked carefully to address these issues upfront, removing the barriers to collaboration.

The lead partners for the programme are Canary Wharf Group, Land Securities and Marks & Spencer. UK-GBC hopes that, by working with these lead partners as well as with thought leaders from their wider membership, future trends for the built environment, key environmental and social challenges and pain points for businesses can all be explored.

The Innovation Lab began in December 2016 with a workshop to identify the ‘breakthrough challenge’ which will form the focus of a 9-month programme of work. This highlighted key industry challenges around climate change resilience, resource use, shifting demographics, technological advancement and health and wellbeing.

Over the coming weeks, this challenge will be refined through consultation with the lead partners and work will start on identifying gaps and existing innovations, moving on to try and generate new solutions to tackle the challenge.

Cat Hirst, Head of Leadership and Innovation at UK-GBC, said:

Research and Development levels across our industry are painfully low; the UK currently only spends £43m on construction R&D. The risks to a single company of investing in developing a solution for such a high-cost industry are often seen as prohibitive. But we desperately need to find ways of working together to achieve radical change if we are to challenge business as usual and transition to a sustainable way of working.

“At UK-GBC we’re seeking to catalyse this change by using our unique position to convene our member organisations to work together to address the issues our industry faces. We want to ensure there is the time, space, and structure for open innovation to occur for the built environment.

“The Innovation Lab is not just about finding one solution to one problem, it’s about fostering a more open and collaborative approach to problem solving as an industry. We need to build the capacity of our industry to innovate and find the right approach to being creative and collaborative within a commercial setting.”

The Innovation Lab is being delivered in collaboration with Switch On Worldwide.

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