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CDBB Summer Showcase event presents mini-projects and funded Research Networks

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Fast-paced presentations, networking and the launch of three new research opportunities shaped the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s Summer Showcase event which attracted a full-house of industry professionals, academics from institutions across the UK, policy officials and members of the public.

Held at the McGrath Centre at St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge, on 30 July, the event showcased an eclectic range of multi-disciplinary work completed by the mini-projects team. The 17 commissioned mini-projects, funded by the University of Cambridge network, marked the launch of the CDBB research programme in December 2017. The brief was to consider how digital technologies impact the built environment and how society might be affected by the changes that may follow the adoption of these technologies.

The 11 mini-project presentations demonstrated the wide reach and cross-disciplinary nature of the CDBB programme, which is designed to support the digitally-enabled transformation of the full lifecycle of the built environment to increase productivity and improve economic and social outcomes in the UK. Reflecting the dynamic of CDBB’s agenda working to effect transformational change in the present and future, the mini-projects presented a snapshot of research work that has generated both results and raised further questions to be explored.

The presented mini-projects included:

The packed and pacy agenda gave a sense of the activity at CDBB and delegates were encouraged to follow-up presentations with conversations to learn more about the Centre and its research. Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice Chancellor: Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge and Director of CDBB, opened the event and started the timed three-minute presentations (nine slides remaining on the screen for 20 seconds each) by introducing CDBB.

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Professor Neely said: “In essence the Centre is doing three things: building research capability and capacity across the UK; informing policy; and supporting change to digital in the built environment. Digital technologies are much broader than Building Information Modelling so the language we use is around design, build, operate and integrate to focus on how these technologies can be applied to enhance productivity and efficiency.

“Although based in Cambridge the Centre is very much a national programme. We want to find ways to collaborate with industry and academia to make sure that together we build a digital built Britain. I invite you to talk to colleagues here, explore what we are doing at CDBB and think about how we might collaborate together.” 

Dr Jennifer Schooling, Chair of the CDBB Research Strategy Steering Group and Director of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction at the University of Cambridge introduced the Centre’s research programme, which features a network model to bring together academic researchers, industry and stakeholder organisations to drive the creation of a digitally-enabled landscape. A call for multi-institutional networks was announced by CDBB in early 2018 and resulted in six initial funded research networks. There will be additional calls for research to fill identified gaps in the landscape picture.

Emphasising the Centre’s open approach to research to encourage all interested people and organisations to engage with CDBB, Dr Schooling said: “The Centre’s Research Bridgehead is very much about drawing together the best research in the UK. Our six research networks want to reach out into the broadest possible academic group within the country. Please think about any opportunity for you to engage and do chat to the network leads after the presentations.”

The CDBB research networks were presented in the same fast-paced format and included:

There were two additional presentations highlighting the CDBB Cambridge Digital Twin Case Study and opportunities to learn from digital transformation challenges in other sectors. 

Alexandra Bolton, Deputy Director of CDBB closed the session by thanking all the presenters and inviting engagement. “Please do get engaged with the networks. We want these networks to grow.”

Announcing three new opportunities for funding, she said: “We are delighted to be launching a new series of three separate research calls. They are deliberately open, multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional and aligned with the CDBB mission. Please note we are not just talking technical but everything that belongs to the CDBB mix including legal, psychology, social sciences and economics. We are really looking forward to receiving some fantastic bids for all of the calls.”

The research calls include:

  • Research Agenda and Landscape Call for Tenders comprising a package of nine mini tenders covering different topics. This invites proposals to draft reports which describe the capabilities the UK will need to create, exploit and enjoy digital built Britain over the next several decades, the research agenda needed to deliver these capabilities and the landscape of research competence available today to act as a starting point. 
  • Delivering a Digital Built Britain General Research Call is searching for multiple projects covering different disciplines to support the breadth of the Centre’s mission. There will be opportunities for collaboration between the projects during the funding period.
  • Delivering a Digital Built Britain Early Career Researchers Call invites proposals from eligible research teams, and early career researchers for research projects aligned with the CDBB mission 'to develop and demonstrate policy and practical insights that will enable the exploitation of new and emerging technologies, data and analytics to enhance the natural and built environment, thereby driving up commercial competitiveness and productivity, as well as citizen quality of life and well-being’.

Full details, including funding figures and deadlines, are on the CDBB website.

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