On 18 February 2020, representatives of UKCRIC met with senior staff at the Institution of Civil Engineers (Nick Baveystock, Director General; Mark Hansford, Director of Engineering Knowledge; and Ben Goodwin, Lead Policy Manager), with past presidents Lord Robert Mair and Gordon Masterton. Here are the highlights of a very positive discussion.
- ICE and UKCRIC will work together in promoting a common agenda to government and other stakeholders. UKCRIC will marshal and represent the UK academic community in civil engineering/infrastructure and cities, developing and promoting initiatives, providing expert academic advice and a rigorous evidence base to aid decision making.
- ICE will include a substantial sum for supporting the UK infrastructure and cities research and development base in its future budget recommendations to Treasury.
- ICE and UKCRIC are considering a joint pitch to Treasury for a campaign to secure in all infrastructure procurement a sum of ‘3% for Research & Innovation’. This would be consistent with overall government objective to increase R&D spending to 2.7% of GDP and would secure an appropriate level of funding to enhance the value of and de-risk the proposed investment in up to £600 billion of public funds for infrastructure investment. Such a proportion for research, development and innovation would be commensurate with a capital spend in any other sphere of business.
- UKCRIC will source contributions in kind from academics to support ICE initiatives such as studies into major projects through Project 13 (disseminating lessons learned, etc.). This will complement the ICE’s reshaping of its learned society activities.
- ICE and UKCRIC will seek to engage jointly with the “Connected Places Catapult” (a merger of the former Transport Systems and Future Cities Catapults) as partners in a campaign of consistent messaging and stakeholder engagement. We would help to articulate some key messages on 21st century infrastructure and advocate the need for research to underpin our approach of ‘advancing by learning’ when tackling the highly complex problems involved. This will help us to ‘do it better’, a concept that is to be developed and refined in this context and which might, for example, be achieved by considering every major project as a learning opportunity.
- UKCRIC and ICE will work together in support of the Government’s two currently-stated priorities of a move to ‘Zero Carbon’ and ‘Levelling Up’, and ICE will highlight this capability to Government.
- UKCRIC will support the ICE members’ pledge ‘not to overdesign’ and ICE’s activities on reporting on and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals as UKCRIC advances work in its four missions. It will do this by augmenting the knowledge base from its findings and will work with ICE on bundling of papers in bespoke, cross-cutting special issues of ICE Proceedings papers. UKCRIC will proactively support dissemination through ICE publications, journals and special reports, etc.
- ICE and UKCRIC will explore the business case for a role akin to a virtual ‘academic in residence’. This would ideally be through a part-time appointment to tap into a wide range of academic expertise, rather than relying on a single academic.
ICE has subsequently agreed with the Alan Turing Institute to lobby Government jointly for significant research funding for a national research programme in critical infrastructure, with a focus on data (including collection and analysis) and modelling.