IC3 Launch: House of Lords, Jan 29, 2018

Here’s a selection of images from the team taking the Tech on Tyne story to Westminster – with the excitement of connected construction, but also representatives from our cluster groups in Cybersecurity, Fintech, Shared Services, Skills, Gaming…

Some 110 people attended the launch of the International Centre for Connected Construction (IC3) vision on Monday Jan 29 – we were told this was an excellent turn-out given parliamentary business and a cold January Monday!

As well as generous sponsorship from Viscount Ridley, the event was supported by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Chancellor of Northumbria Uni. It was a busy day in the parliamentary calendar, so local MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan was detained debating Armed Forces business.

Also in attendance:

Ministers – Lord Michael Bates, Rishi Sunak MP and (Northumbria alumni) Lord Martin Callanan, Lord Oliver Henley

MPs – George Freeman, Chi Onwurah, Nick Brown, Guy Opperman,

Lords – Lord Borwick, Lord Best, Lord Shipley, Lord O’Neill, Lord Cavendish, Lord Bates, Lord Mair

Leader of Northumberland Council Peter Jackson attended with his cabinet member for business Cllr Nick Oliver. From Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Kemp

Dynamo members, including several Hotspot sponsors, were there in force: Ryder Architects, Accenture, Blu Sky, NBS, Newcastle College, Northumbria Uni

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Viscount Ridley introduces the vision for IC3 to assembled company on House of Lords terrace.

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Prof Andrew Wathey positions Northumbria University in context

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Charlie Hoult outlines a vision for the IC3 centre of excellence, based in Newcastle.

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Prof Dave Greenwood explains the value of BIM to the Westminster audience – and beyond!

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Strong support for the speakers from Lord Shipley (Matt Ridley was equally supportive but simultaneous to the launch, he was taking part in a live debate in the House of Lords, so John Shipley deputised in this shot! – It’s essential to be in the chamber to hear replies and debate the issues, as Lord Bates found out two days later!)


Giselle Stewart, Ubisoft, with Lord Shipley, former LibDem leader of Newcastle City Council – talking skills?

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Tony Lewin, Newcastle College; Charlie Hoult, Dynamo;
Deni Chambers, Newcastle College


Dr Stephen Gruneberg, Westminster Uni; Prof Dave Greenwood, Northumbria Uni; Mohamad Kassem, Northumbria Uni


Allan King, Accenture; Jo McGovern, Accenture


Prof George Marston, Northumbria Uni; Simon Robson, Northumbria Uni

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Viscount Matt Ridley with Rob Hamilton, Newcastle City Council

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Prof Glen McHale, Faculty Pro Vice-Chancellor, Northumbria Uni; Charlie Hoult, Dynamo; Professor Lord Robert Mair, President of Institution of Civil Engineers


Charlie Hamilton, Northumbria Uni; Binyamnin Ali, Construction News


Dynamo’s chair Charlie Hoult with Mark Thompson, managing director, Ryder Architects


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Team IC3 – Graham Kelly, BIM Academy, Northumbria Uni; Catherine Coulter, Dynamo’s event supremo, Beaconhouse Events; Charlie Hoult, Dynamo; Anne MacDonald, Dynamo Build, engagement manager


Is Newcastle a cluster for Digital Construction?

I was chatting to Lord Mair, president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, at their base off Parliament Sq at our Monday lunch. His point was that there are not many clusters in construction as it’s quite an evenly distributed industry. However, this digital construction one seems, for some reason to have clustered in NE – and this is significant for the industry and our region and should be fostered

(as a property/regen cluster expert, the analysts always say… it’s not how the cluster started, which is impossible to replicate… it’s how you catalyse one if you find one!)

I can point you to the players:

RIBA NBS – 200 people at Central Post Office in town

Space Group Architects – Benton, with 150 staff, keepers of digital twins of all Google’s worldwide offices

Viewpoint – formerly 4Projects, 120 staff, based beside Central Station

Ove Arup – was born in Ncl, went on to be chief engineer of Sydney Opera House. Company still has big presence in region

Turner & Townsend – one of UK’s biggest project managers for infrastructure/build projects (such as lead for Ncl Uni on all £350m build on Science Central…) founded in Darlington!

AtlasCloud – providing the cloud platform for all documents for Heathrow Airport and HS2

A-Com – running the BIM for renovation of Big Ben.

Luminous – 3D and VR providers to architects

BIM Academy – Northumbria and Ryder partnership. Winner of 2017 Times Education Supplement ‘most innovative industry-academia collaboration’

(BIM Academy works for Brazil Government on standards, Singapore Govt… is helping develop an island between Malaysia and Singapore for 1m residents… working in Australia, Canada etc)

Northumbria Uni – 1200 students/staff in architecture and built environment dept, part of 6000 in Engineering Faculty

Newcastle Uni – Smart Cities work has created a network of sensors to study all aspects of Ncl city life, which is the biggest sensor project of any city worldwide – based in Science Central’s Urban Science Building, opposite where NICD and NICA is being built National Innovation Centre for Data (…for Ageing). All about Smart Data… (using Northumbria’s virtual model of the city – collaboration!)


This all links to the Industrial Strategy, by Greg Clark MP… in digital construction, it’s £170m budget, which we are trying to dovetail with national other initiatives, such as Cambridge Uni and Construction Leadership Council


Hence, Dynamo driving regional policy to specialise, but to ‘go large’ with a bid for £40m to create IC3 – International Centre for Connected Construction.


The national agenda hot buttons are:

Productivity – construction is 12% of the economy. If we can make it more digital and productive, this will help UK lag on indices

Export – UK standards are trusted across the world. This is a chance for us to export our IP and consultancy… high value jobs for our people to operate the computers, while low paid locals can do the bricklaying and commodity stuff

Skills – we need more people coming into the industry to train them up (and this is all about knowledge economy, not High Viz and muck which turns off some people and maybe more girls)


Briefing Notes for ICE Lunch and HOL Launch of the Vision for IC3


  • The vision for a £40m Newcastle-based International Centre for Connected Construction will be launched at the House of Lords on 29th January.
  • Productivity: IC3 will be a global hub to drive productivity and performance in the built environment through smart processes and world leading technology.
  • Export: IC3 builds on North East England’s global expertise and world leading cluster of technology businesses in building information modelling (BIM), virtual reality, smart cities and cloud computing
  • Cluster: Northumbria University and regional IT network Dynamo have been developing the IC3 project for some months, working closely with the region’s growing cluster of firms leading on government policy, major infrastructure, 3D modelling and digital advisory projects across the globe.


Links to Government strategy

  • The Industrial Strategy has set 4 challenges, Clean Growth, Future Mobility and Aging Society, underpinned by the fourth challenge, AI and Data Economy.
  • Transforming Construction and the Construction Sector Deal fit into Clean Growth and the Construction Sector Deal (led by CLC) is all about transforming productivity, there are 4 themes, procuring for value, industry led innovation, skills for the future and Exports and international.
  • IC3 will strive to answer the Industry Strategy challenges. It will not only respond to the Construction Sector Deal, it will also look to respond to the AI and Data Economy challenges within construction.


What will IC3 deliver?

  • A global hub for Connected Construction, both physical and virtual, built on the outstanding world-class expertise of the region
  • Direct Employment and Export growth
  • Infrastructure/Hardware/Software
  • Partners – Academic/Industry (from start up to large organisations)/global centre connections
  • Hub of knowledge sharing (hub and spoke) – complementary connections with CSIC, MTC, CDBB, Swansea centres
  • Benefits to govt + community – knowledge/productivity/economy/innovation
  • Academic Faculty – Bachelors/Masters/PhDs
  • Training/Education – Academic/Industry/Apprenticeships
  • Research – Industry led (industry funded)/ground breaking (research bids)
  • Events and areas for public engagement


Next steps

  • The IC3 team is keen to engage with other organisations in digital construction to achieve a joined-up approach that meets government priorities
  • A detailed business case is being developed to pave the way for a formal application to government for funding in 2018.


Contact details and further information



North East England team launches vision for £40m centre of excellence to cement reputation in digital construction

THE vision for a £40m Newcastle-based International Centre for Connected Construction will be launched at the House of Lords today, Mon Jan 29, 2018.

Northumbria University and regional IT network Dynamo have been working on the IC3 project for some months, aiming to further develop the region’s growing reputation for building information modelling (BIM), virtual reality, smart cities and cloud computing.

Presentations will be made at the House of Lords and the Institution of Civil Engineers in Westminster to share the vision for IC3 with ministers and senior trade and industry leaders, in an event hosted by Viscount Matt Ridley, a keen supporter of the North East’s science and technology sector.

IC3 will be a hub for the global construction sector, researching and developing digital technologies and smarter working practices and applying them to the building lifecycle. It will also enable industry, academics and the public to work together on the next generation of technological innovation in the built environment, and develop opportunities for exports in intellectual property.

Professor Andrew Wathey CBE, Northumbria’s Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, said: “Building information modelling, smart cities, sustainability and the digital industry will have the ability to come together to play a significant role in the economic future of the North East. This centre, building on core research strengths at Northumbria University, in association with other partners, will make a key contribution to this process. The new centre will establish the North East’s role in the global leadership and application of this work.”

Dynamo Chair Charlie Hoult, said: “There is a huge opportunity for UK Plc to gain from leading the push for international standards in digital building – like the benefits we have from initiating Greenwich Mean Time or the English language dominating global trade. BIM has that potential to make the UK centre stage in an industry that accounts for easily 12% of the worldwide economy.

“The UK needs to push our economy’s overall productivity so any support for the digital transformation of the construction sector will help. We’ve not had a Spotify or Uber to disrupt traditional working practise in construction – but keep a watch on the 60 firms in the Dynamo Build cluster group in the North East, because several of these firms are growing fast and taking huge steps in Connected Construction.

“Architecture journals have headlined ‘Geordies invented BIM’ – there is a huge opportunity to create the next generation of innovations to transform the construction and total cost of owning buildings!

“We hope to capitalise on this vibrant cluster to align with other initiatives in the recently announced £170m for construction listed in the Government’s Industrial Strategy.”

The success of Newcastle and North East-based digital and IT companies have ensured the region has the second highest growth IT sector outside of London.


Note to editors:

With 22% of the UK’s highest growth digital businesses based in Newcastle, the North East digital community is one of the most productive in the UK, with a track record of commercialisation and innovation.

Construction and built environment is a key UK sector, with a turnover of £370 billion, contributing £138 billion in value added to the UK economy and employing 3.1 million people (9 per cent of the total UK workforce). It is a critical component of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

 Dynamo is the North East network for the IT sector, representing some 42,000 working in the region’s tech hotspot. Advisory board members include Sage, the only FTSE100 software firm; Accenture, with 1,000+ staff in its Newcastle delivery centre; DWP/HMRC; NHS PPA; BT, with 8,000 staff; and a vibrant mix of high growth independents. 

 Dynamo Build cluster group has 60 member firms with 4,500 people allied to connected construction. These include RIBA-NBS, Space Group, Ryder, Viewpoint, AtlasCloud and Newcastle University’s National Innovation Centre for Data.

 Dynamo Build members already work on government policy, major infrastructure, 3D modelling and digital advisory projects in Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong and Brazil – as well as on Heathrow, HS2 and refurbishment of Palace of Westminster.

 Northumbria University, Newcastle is a research-rich, business-focused, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence.

 Northumbria’s Architecture and Built Environment courses are ranked within the top 151-200 in the world, according to the 2017 QS World University Rankings by Subject. 

Northumbria University began working in partnership with Ryder Architecture seven years ago to form BIM Academy, which provides consultancy, research and education activities on building information modelling to global clients. BIM Academy has been commissioned to work on high-profile development projects in Europe, Australasia and the Middle and Far East, including work on the Sydney Opera House and Hong Kong’s M+ Museum. The partnership was awarded the Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration title in the 2017 Times Higher Education

Vision IC3 – launch 29 Jan 2018

A vision for a centre of excellence for digital construction and the built environment is launched on Monday January 29, 2018 at House of Lords. The project is named IC3 – International Centre for Connected Construction.

The project is a collaboration between IT network Dynamo North East and Northumbria University’s BIM Academy.


For more information, contact ic3@dynamonortheast.co.uk