Description and Timescale: The i-BUILD: Infrastructure Business models, valuation and Innovation for Local Delivery programme is sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and will run between 2013-18.
Project Summary: The aim of the iBuild programme is to develop of a new generation of tools and methods and apply them to a series of integrative case studies, in concert with our local and national government and industry partners, to enable a revolution in the business of infrastructure delivery in the UK, whilst at the same time becoming an international flagship Centre recognised for novelty, research excellence and impact.
Our national infrastructure – the systems of infrastructure networks (e.g. energy, water, transport, waste, ICT) that support services such as healthcare, education, emergency response and thereby ensure our social, economic and environmental wellbeing – faces a multitude of challenges. A growing population, modern economy and proliferation of new technologies have placed increased and new demands on infrastructure services and made infrastructure networks increasingly interconnected. Meanwhile, investment has not kept up with the pace of change leaving many components at the end of their life. Moreover, global environmental change necessitates reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved resilience to extreme events, implying major reconfigurations of these infrastructure systems. Addressing these challenges is further complicated by fragmented, often reactive, regulation and governance arrangements. Existing business models are considered to provide poor value but few proven alternative models exist for mobilising finance, particularly in the current economic climate. Continued delivery of our civil infrastructure, particularly given current financial constraints, will require innovative and integrated thinking across engineering, economic and social sciences. If the process of addressing these issues is to take place efficiently, whilst also minimising associated risks, it will need to be underpinned by an appropriate multi-disciplinary approach that brings together engineering, economic and social science expertise to understand infrastructure financing, valuation and interdependencies under a range of possible futures. The evidence that must form the basis for such a strategic approach does not yet exist. However, evidence alone will be insufficient, so we therefore propose to deliver a multi-disciplinary analysis of innovative business models around infrastructure interdependencies. While national scale plans, projects and procedures set the wider agenda, it is at the scale of neighbourhoods, towns and cities that infrastructure is most dense and interdependencies between infrastructures, economies and society are most profound – this is our focus of study.
Lead Partners: The project is dived into 3 hubs – at the Universities of Newcastle, Leeds and Birmingham. The centre is led by Richard Dawson at the University of Newcastle and comprises researchers from a range of disciplines at these institutions as well as from partner Universities (Jon Coaffee at Warwick). For Further Information see: http://research.ncl.ac.uk/ibuild/