The International Centre for Infrastructure Futures (ICIF)

The International Centre for Infrastructure Futures (ICIF) was a three-year project involving a consortium of researchers from six UK universities – UCL, Southampton, Bristol, Sussex, Cranfield and Brighton.
The International Centre for Infrastructure Futures (ICIF)
UKCRIC Communications, Marketing and Events Manager (UCL)

ICIF brought together engineers, social scientists, industrialists, policy makers and other stakeholders in a facilitated learning environment in which they could research and learn together about improving the performance of infrastructure systems in the context of increasing interdependencies. The Centre, which was funded by the EPSRC, focused on the development and implementation of new business models. An international perspective was taken comparing the UK situation with approaches in different countries.

The main academic objective was to achieve a step-change improvement in integrating the social and engineering sciences through an innovative research design, based around a shared learning framework that brings different research streams together in a shared learning process. The centre's non-academic objective was to generate a significant impact on government policy and industrial practice, with particular attention on ensuring the exploitation of research by investors and firms in international markets.

Aims of ICIF

  • Develop strategies allowing flexible responses to future needs through scenario analysis, cross-sector learning over assets' life-cycles, and case research.
    Understand different kinds of inter-dependencies at multiple levels, (including with the environment and society).
  • Develop new approaches to the design, delivery, ownership, and management of infrastructure services through our new co-produced research space supported by our novel learning framework.
  • Improve the identification and analysis of risks associated with interdependencies between infrastructure assets and delivery networks, through advanced modelling and analysis.
  • Extend these modelling approaches for integrated evaluation and comparison of infrastructure options to address financial (risk), economic modelling, and economic, social, & ecosystem impacts. Future proof them across a wide range of stakeholders in our scenario research and feed the results into the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.
  • Catalyse debate and public discussion about a broad range of infrastructure developments through our social media, public debates, lectures and research outputs designed for non-academic users.
  • Contribute towards improved, socially robust, sustainable regulation and public governance of infrastructure services by opening up the implicit assumptions during BM development in a neutral public space, supported by a range of research studies that can flexibly respond to users' needs.
  • Improve understanding of the commercial potential of infrastructure investment for different classes of national and international investor and explore how ownership models influence long term infrastructure development through international comparative work and co-produced research with industry and investors.
  • Develop new infrastructure business models and work through transition pathways, building on the frameworks developed in the ESRC Complex Product Systems Innovation Centre to extend engagement to more stakeholders and support them with cutting edge research from the engineering sciences.
  • Develop a new generation of researchers and extend existing ESRC funded research future skills and training to address infrastructure engineering, planning and related disciplines.

Key findings

  • The changing balance of public-private responsibilities, risks and relationships in infrastructure provision has created opportunities for private firms to develop innovative business models.
  • New organisational forms and transactional relationships – such as framework agreements, partnerships, co-located integrated project teams and joint-venture companies – underline the importance of private and public organisations working closely to co-create, capture, share revenues and deliver valuable solutions and services to end users.
  • The strategic choices about the responsibility and risk are the fundamental determinants of how elements are configured into specific business models.These decisions influence a client’s value proposition, organisational approach, capabilities in the value chain, revenue sharing mechanisms, and transacting relationships with other partners in the value network.
  • While cost savings offer opportunities for increasing efficiency these do not necessarily lead to improved outcomes for end users so the focus should be on providing better value rather than simply reducing costs


The following white papers were published as a result of the project.

  1. Infrastructure Resilience: A Multi-Disciplinary Perspective
  2. Strategic Infrastructure performance indicators
  3. Rethinking 'Sustainable Infrastructure': Natural Processes, Context, Value and Balance
  4. SMART Infrastructure: Benefits and Pitfalls
  5. Infrastructure Governance for the 21st Century
  6. Rethinking Design Standards as Learning Frameworks
  7. A Prosperous Future: Investing in the Infrastructure Sector
  8. Achieving Low Carbon Thinking Everywhere in Infrastructure Delivery
  9. People and Infrastructure Based Services – An Opportunity for Engagement
  10. The potential benefits of outcome based assessments of infrastructure performance
  11. Reduction in the Cost of Execution of Current Infrastructure Business Models
  12. Learning Journeys and Infrastructure Services: a game changer for effectiveness
  13. Evidence for the Value of a Systems Approach to Infrastructure Planning, Delivery and Operation
  14. Infrastructure Resilience: A Multi-Disciplinary Perspective. (ICIF White Paper Collection)
  15. Emerging Approaches and Issues in Regulation and Governance of Infrastructure Based Services