27th April 2023
Construct Innovate – Ireland’s first ever National Construction Technology and Innovation Centre, has today (27th April 2023) announced two key appointments.
Paul Keogh has been selected, following an expressions of interest process managed by Enterprise Ireland, as the inaugural Chair of the Centre’s Steering Committee. Paul is a business leader with experience spanning a wide range of industries including entertainment, hospitality, construction equipment, construction development, and healthcare. He has considerable international experience in the US, the UK, Central Europe, and Australia. He successfully runs his own management consultancy advising large family-owned businesses, many of whom are in the construction sector. He has worked for well-known blue-chip brands such as Guinness, Budweiser, JCB and Ballymore.
Colm McHugh joins the Construct Innovate team as Centre Manager following a competitive recruitment process managed by the Centre. Colm, who is a chartered Mechanical Engineer with over 17 years’ national and international experience as an engineering consultant, main contractor, and equipment supplier, has seen the industry from most sides and brings a deep understanding of the needs of stakeholders at all levels. His leadership, and his strategic and operational experience will be critical in ensuring that the Centre will be as impactful as possible in supporting the continued transition of the Irish construction industry into a modern, efficient, and sustainable sector.
Construct Innovate (www.constructinnovate.ie) is Ireland’s national research centre for construction technology and innovation, and is the newest addition to Enterprise Ireland’s industry-led Technology Centres programme. It was launched by the then Tánaiste Leo Varadkar T.D. in December 2022 with initial funding of €5M over 5 years. Hosted at the University of Galway, the Centre leverages the capabilities, facilities and high levels of expertise available across the consortium partners of Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork and the Irish Green Building Council.
To ensure that it delivers for housing, the Centre will be focused on key industry challenges and innovation in residential construction in its first three years of operation. Construct Innovate will be at the forefront of initiatives to meet the demands of major building and investment programmes as part of Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan 2021-2030; Housing for All; and the Climate Action Plan.
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney T.D. said:
“Construct Innovate will play a crucial role in accelerating the widespread adoption of Modern Methods of Construction that will help deliver the Government’s ambition of high-quality affordable housing for everyone, as articulated in the Housing for All plan. I welcome these two key appointments, as the Centre begins to ramp up its research work programme in partnership with the construction industry and promotes innovation, environmental sustainability, and enhanced levels of productivity along the construction value-chain in Ireland.”
Paul Keogh said:
“The construction industry is often seen as a “traditional” industry with low productivity. In reality, there are a lot of very smart things happening. Construct Innovate will crystalise these opportunities and help meet the challenges of building at the pace and volume that is needed. It will also help Irish construction companies to be at the forefront of technological change and enable them to win increased business internationally. Through the work of the Steering Committee, which will set priorities for the Centre and give direction to the Centre’s research, I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this exciting phase.”
Colm McHugh said:
“I’m looking forward to working with our industry members, our research teams across the Construct Innovate consortium, as well as collaborating with the Build Digital Project, MMC Demonstration Park and Enterprise Ireland’s Built to Innovate programme. Together we can ensure a more competitive, sustainable, and digitally enhanced construction sector to address the urgent areas that make up the Centre’s five key strategic pillars: Productivity, Affordability & Cost; Quality and Safety; Sustainability; Skills and Training; and Collaboration.”
Marina Donohoe, Enterprise Ireland's Head of Research & Innovation welcomed the appointments saying:
“The industry experience that Paul Keogh and Colm McHugh bring to the Construct Innovate Centre will help accelerate innovation right across the value chain and increase the productivity, sustainability and export potential of Irish construction companies while helping to reduce costs and build times for Ireland’s housing and infrastructural needs. These appointments are critical to the work of Construct Innovate.”
Prof. Jamie Goggins and Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz, Construct Innovate’s University of Galway leads said:
“The Centre’s awareness of industry needs and its capacity to effectively deliver results for companies depends on the strength of the consortium team. The appointments of Paul Keogh and Colm McHugh are crucial additions to that team and we look forward to working closely with both.”
Notes to Editors
The Irish construction sector is a major driver of economic activity. It provides the social, economic, and productive infrastructure required to sustain economic growth and competitiveness and attract foreign direct investment.
The sector employs 167,300, 6.5% of total employed in the economy and represents 1.78% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Despite having some high performing companies, the construction industry overall has major challenges including fragmentation, boom-bust cycles and comparatively low productivity compared to other sectors and other countries.
Enterprise Ireland’s High-Tech Construction and Housing team works with a portfolio of 450 client companies that achieved exports of €2.79bn in 2022, up 17% on the previous year. Under the ‘Built to Innovate’ initiative, a range of lean, digitalisation and green business supports have been extended to the domestic residential construction sector.
Construct Innovate, Ireland’s national research centre for construction technology and innovation is the lates addition to Enterprise Ireland’s Technology Centres Programme. Now comprising nine Centres in key sectors, the Technology Centres programme is a joint Enterprise Ireland/IDA initiative which has been in operation for over 12 years and has contributed to the success of many Irish businesses in key sectors. Enterprise Ireland’s first eight technology centres currently employ 320 researchers working collaboratively with almost 280 Member companies, 570 associate member companies as well as over 2,600 companies that regularly engage with the Centres on training, networking, and knowledge transfer activities.
Construct Innovate supports the technology transformation of the entire construction, housing and built environment sector by engaging directly with the construction industry through a membership model. This will enable companies to engage on key issues and take ownership of the research, development and innovation activities required for their continued progression.
Following an economic analysis of productivity in the Irish construction sector, commissioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Construction Sector Group (CSG) comprised of government and industry representatives set up an Innovation and Digital Adoption Subgroup. The ‘Construct Innovate’ Technology centre has resulted from the work of this subgroup and is one of seven priority actions required to deliver the National Development Plan and modernise the Irish construction industry. Other focus areas for the subgroup include development of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), digitise the planning permission application system and establish a Build Digital initiative for BIM and digital adoption. Following the launch of the government’s Housing for All strategy and Climate Action Plan, an eighth all-encompassing action was added to prioritise sustainability and housing delivery as key elements of every priority.
In line with the Government’s Housing for All strategy, Construct Innovate has been tasked with prioritising research and innovation in the housing sector in its first three years. Part of this will allow for testing; trial builds; building systems analysis; workforce upskilling and developing capacity, with all of these opportunities being combined with the need to pursue the highest environmentally friendly standards in materials and building systems.
The team of researchers from across the Construction Innovate consortium will offer expertise in digital adoption, modern methods of construction and sustainability, providing recommendations to industry on best practice. Their work will be organised under five pillars to address the following urgent areas - productivity; affordability and cost; quality and safety; sustainability; skills and training; and collaboration. It will be built around industry-led, open innovation and collaborative research, with the construction sector using Construct Innovate to access the best available expertise. This approach will enable the construction sector to tap into the innovative responses which are needed to support rapid transformation to meet demand, in terms of scale, quality, speed and efficiency. Construct Innovate will also provide secondment opportunities for innovative research and academics across the consortium.
The Centre’s vision is to make Ireland a global research and innovation leader for sustainable construction, housing and built environment technology.
Construct Innovate’s Mission is to develop a platform for collaboration, which enables:
- Industry to take ownership of the research, development, and innovation process.
- More resilient companies in times of disruptive changes.
- Modernised, sustainable sector supporting circular economy and climate action.
By providing access to innovation, knowledge, and business ecosystems, Construct Innovate will act as an accelerator and allow SMEs to increase their capacity and competitiveness, while creating a sustainable construction, housing and built environment ecosystem.
Supporting implementation of Housing for All and working with the Government’s Construction Sector Group, Enterprise Ireland is leading the drive for productivity and innovation through the establishment of Construct Innovate which will sit alongside the Build Digital project led by TU Dublin, the forthcoming MMC Demonstration Park at Mount Lucas, and other related initiatives.
Further information about Construct Innovate: The National Research Centre for Construction Technology and Innovation can be found at www.constructinnovate.ie.
Back to Department News