The outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic caused disruption across each and every industry - not least the construction sector. In fact, upon the initial nationwide UK lockdown in March, the industry shrank by 5.8% in one month alone - the most significant monthly drop since the 2008 financial crisis.

With guidelines and restrictions continuing to dictate the safety and legalities of construction projects, how can the industry look to bounce back to full strength amidst a weaker economy and more stringent rules and regulations? The answer: R&D.


How has R&D in construction been affected?

With closed construction sites and a furloughed workforce, it will come as little surprise to learn that almost half of building product manufacturers and service providers halted or significantly slowed their R&D activity following the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the industry began to rebuild during the relaxation of lockdown regulations in the summer, the reintroduction of these rules towards the latter end of 2020 promised further problems for the construction sector.

In order to successfully re-establish the dominance of the construction industry in 2021 and beyond, the solution may actually lie in the research and development projects being shown little love.

How is R&D the solution?

Lockdown taught every sector some valuable lessons about the way it operated. There was perhaps no greater takeaway across all industries than that of the importance of technology.

The latest evolutions in tech can help the construction industry in two primary ways. Firstly, it can offer short-term solutions to getting back on-site with improved efficiency and productivity. Secondly, it can provide a longer term solution by attracting fresh new employees to the workforce to fill the inevitable skill gap caused by the integration of such tech.

R&D funding provides an unrivalled opportunity for construction firms to investigate, develop and fund the pursuit of these new technologies. In the face of an unfamiliar industry landscape, it’s likely that projects seeking this opportunity will meet the necessary eligibility criteria to receive funding.

The possibilities surrounding which tech you explore and how you look to utilise it are endless. For example, perhaps you want to integrate tech as a means of improving the efficiency of your processes. Here, you could look to conduct research and development around machine learning and automation.

Contrastingly, perhaps you’d like to develop technology to ensure the safety of your workers on-site amidst new guidelines and health concerns. Here, existing examples include GPS systems integrated into applications, and equipment to help you track and implement social distancing.

The construction industry has taken a big hit in 2020, but R&D could be the ticket your firm needs to bounce back in 2021. Need a hand understanding how to start applying? Get in touch with the experts at Lumo today.



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