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Contractors urged to join up for R&D funds

NEWS - National Technology Platform aims to win Euro funding for technology innovation

CONTRACTORS are being urged to support an initiative to bring construction industry technology into the 21st century with the launch of a national research and development group.

The National Technology Platform, launched today (Thursday), is being supported by the Department of Trade and Industry to increase collaborative working between construction firms to develop new materials and methods of working.

The NTP will help the industry tap into £48 billion of funding provided by the European Commission from 2007 to sponsor research into industrial technology across all sectors. Firms can apply to join consortia with companies across Europe to develop innovations that will help them compete with America and the Far East.Up to 50 per cent funding will be provided for the research, with the remainder being split between the consortium members.

One of the NTP's first tasks will be to lobby for the UK construction industry when the European Commission decides on its strategic agenda for research later this year.

Roger Blundell, a former Taylor Woodrow divisional director who is now principal consultant to the NTP, said: 'The themes of research in the strategy are not sector specific so it is up to the industry to come up with good proposals to unlock the funding.'

Mace chairman Bob White has been closely involved with the formation of the NTP through his role as the chair of Crisp, the industry's research and innovation body which will be absorbed into the NTP.

He said: 'There is already a lot of research that goes on in the UK construction industry and there is cash available to fund it. But there does not seem to be a lot of development. A lot of good ideas are being created but the reports are just going on shelves.They are not being developed from good ideas to the point where they get to the market.There needs to be enough funding for this aspect as well.'