"If you remain collaborative you will find solutions"

- Blog

Last week we had the pleasure of teaming up with BRE and their Construction Excellence team to deliver a workshop exploring how collaboration is helping companies source innovation for the built environment.

Paul Toyne set out the focus of the day and we were all told we had to learn something new and network, both of which turned out to be incredibly easy with a fantastic group of speakers and a super friendly group of attendees.

The day built up to the thought-leadership panel discussion on how companies are working together to transform their building performances through high impact innovations. Chaired by Henry Majed, this session brought together, Carillion, Unite students, JUMP and Waterblade, and demonstrated the way in which some of the biggest companies in the U.K are collaborating through the Innovation Gateway. It was an opportunity to share experiences and understand how they are working together to reduce costs and environmental impacts of their buildings; showcase innovations they have adopted and demonstrate this powerful approach to sourcing innovation.

“It was a no-brainer to collaborate in order to bring together the jigsaw. Fundamentally it just makes sense to collaborate, saves money, and jump straight to the learnings with less risk.”

– James Tiernan, Unite Students

The first discussion point was around why innovation is important and the challenges associated with sourcing innovations that demonstrate impact. Euan Burns (Chief Engineer - Carillion) stated very matter-of-factly 'As a business you have to innovate and source innovations otherwise you will fail.' It was poignant to hear then James Tiernan (Group Energy and Environment Manager -Unite students) re-iterate that point and to highlight that despite being very different companies, the need for sourcing innovation is absolutely paramount to ensure both their businesses create resilience and respond to a changing environment.  

As with other industries and sectors James talked about the need to source innovations that target a wide range of issues in their buildings. By sourcing these alongside industry leaders in their own sector as well as others ensures they are demonstrating industry leadership. James “There is no silver bullet, we must source a full range of solutions”.

Sourcing innovation is a major challenge faced by many companies and is associated with a great deal of risk. By working collaboratively the partners are able to de-risk the process and have already achieved great results through the Innovation Gateway. Having Graham from JUMP there to demonstrate its own success was a valuable addition to the panel - JUMP is now being rolled out to the entire RBS estate, and as well as projected savings of £3 million, both RBS and JUMP have had some great exposure.

As well as articles in the press, Mike Lynch appeared on Sky News last week to discuss the innovation. Nigel from Waterblade also shared his experience and it was exciting to hear how Waterblade is already seeing savings with the potential to scale to over 1 million litres of water savings per year, as well as the costs associated with that.  

An overarching message which became dominant across the day was the need for collaboration. It was great to hear the progressive attitude of James and Euan in sharing and innovating together, within their own sector as well as showing the importance of the Innovation Gateway helping them to reach out across sectors.

“The need for innovating hasn’t changed and that this wasn’t a new concept but the pace of change in technology is such that it makes it hugely challenging to keep up.”

– Euan Burns, Carillion

Euan made the point that…'the need for innovating hasn’t changed and that this wasn’t a new concept but the pace of change in technology is such that it makes it hugely challenging to keep up.' The ability to collaborate across sectors means that through the Innovation Gateway, Carillion and UNITE are able to stay up to date with the wave of technology that is being produced.

To ensure UNITE stays ahead of this wave of technology, James said "It was a no-brainer to collaborate in order to bring together the jigsaw. Fundamentally it just makes sense to collaborate, saves money, and jump straight to the learnings with less risk." Euan echoed this point stating that they wanted to avoid "VHS vs Beta max problem." By working together you de-risk the implementation of innovation and you are more confident in the decisions you make, "If you remain collaborative you will find solutions".

There were lots of very insightful questions coming from the audience. Everyone who attended left buzzing, inspired and ready to take action on their challenges.

We thought the event was very successful and we're excited for more opportunities to build on this partnership with BRE in the future, so watch this space.

Written by Charles Milano, Partnerships Manager at Innovation Gateway