$10.3 Million Funding Injection to Help Transform the Sector

By Dr Troy Coyle, HERA CEO

The Government has announced $236.5 million in funding for 71 scientific research projects in the latest Endeavour funding round, and I, along with the HERA research team, are excited to share that one of our projects has been awarded a grant of close to $10.3 million.

The Endeavour Fund supports important projects seeking to address some of our biggest challenges, and in HERA’s case will support a four-year research project focused on transforming the construction sector in Aotearoa New Zealand using Construction 4.0 approaches. Fundamentally, it will improve productivity and sustainability, particularly carbon, for the construction sector more broadly, with key outcomes including better economic performance, building and infrastructure affordability, and a larger workforce which is more skilled, innovative, and digitally literate.

In this latest funding round, of the 112 research programme proposals assessed, 45 were assessed for impact, and HERA’s proposal was one of 20 to be approved for investment.

Currently there is a profound limitation in the way we perform construction in Aotearoa New Zealand. Complex decisions are being made based on simple data inputs and in linear silos with little inter-connection or data-derived decision support. This programme not only addresses key challenges identified by our members and wider industry, but will be world-leading in creating data-driven decision-making for the future of construction.

It will improve design to construction (and beyond) by bringing together industry and a team of global experts rigorously vetted, who will use complexity science to build upon developing nascent global Construction 4.0 knowledge.

We also recognise the Science Board’s focus on Vision Mātauranga which aligns strongly to our own commitment in this space. Informed by experts in Mātauranga Māori and its interface with engineering, and by specialists in sustainability and resilience in the built environment, it makes this research unique globally and aligned to social outcomes and intergenerational wellbeing.

The Construction 4.0 framework and guidelines developed in the HERA project will focus on a series of nationwide sector-driven benefits:

  • Better economic performance.
  • Improved productivity in the construction sector.
  • Improved sustainability, particularly carbon.
  • Building resilience and performance within environmental limits.
  • Building and infrastructure affordability.
  • Interfaces with indigenous knowledge – mātauranga Māori.
  • Management of complexity and reduction of uncertainty.
  • Enhancement of information exchange and communication between project stakeholders to increase productivity and quality of output.

A core research theme will focus on technology transfer in traditional industries and policy development and implementation, to ensure that the project outcomes are readily adoptable.

Dr Troy Coyle brings more than 20 years’ experience in innovation management across a range of industries including materials science, medical radiation physics, biotechnology, sustainable building products, renewable energy and steel. She is a scientist with a PhD (University of NSW) with training in journalism and communications.