UK Construction Week preview: Innovation and reform

4 September 2019

Innovation, change and reform are the big themes taking centre stage at this year’s UK Construction Week (UKCW), with digital technologies, modern methods of construction (MMC) and sustainability topping the agenda.

Now in its fifth year, UK Construction Week (UKCW) is the biggest construction event on the calendar and will be held at Birmingham’s NEC on 8-10 October. In addition to a packed programme of panel debates, seminars and CPDs, there will be more than 600 exhibitors and more than 10,000 products on show and available for demonstrations.

Join the debate

Hear from tier 1 contractors, globally renowned architects, leading housebuilders, government ministers, developers, local authorities and major infrastructure project leaders as they take to the stage to lead the debate on how construction can capitalise on the growth in technology.

Top five things not to miss

1. Main Stage: Capitalising on Innovation and Disruptive Change

On day one of the show, don’t miss “Are you being left behind? Capitalising on Innovation and Disruptive Change”, hosted by George Clarke. Hear from industry experts on the solutions that will transform the way we build, helping to deliver projects faster without compromising on quality.

2. Join the celebrations

Take time to relax with colleagues, customers and suppliers at the Fischer bar in Hall 11 and the Rawlplug bar in Hall 12. Don’t forget the Beer Festival and “Rockaoke” on Wednesday night.

3. Discover the future in the Innovation Zone

The Innovation Zone, in partnership with industry, is planning to promote new ideas of relevance to many markets. It is encouraging the whole construction supply chain to find fresh thinking and new technical solutions.

4. Experience live demos at the MMC Hub

At the Modern Methods of Construction Hub, you can see how MMC works through a range of full-scale builds and live demos, including assembling a house, BIM modelling demonstrations and simulations.

5. Run your own building site

The Coventry University site simulator is hailed as one of the most powerful experiences of any construction show. If you’re feeling brave you can take on the role of the site manager and have real actors approach you as colleagues and members of the public.

Artificial intelligence, digital twins, digital roads and smart cities are just a few of the digital streams that will revolutionise the way that the UK’s infrastructure operates. The “Dragging the Industry into the 21st Century” seminar will hear from infrastructure experts on how to integrate new technologies while balancing benefits and risks.

Lorna Stimpson, deputy chief executive of Local Authority Building Control, will talk on “Delivering High Standards in Building Control” while the main stage debate will tackle the question “Building Safe Homes: When is the Fundamental Reform?”, where you can hear from the members of the working groups set up to take forward the recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt.

There are also opportunities to look ahead with “Brexit Boom or Bust? Industry Economic Forecast 2020”, as well as tips on how to bid for big contracts in “Seven Must-do Things when Bidding for Large Contracts”.

UKCW Innovation Zone

New this year is the UKCW Innovation Zone, created in partnership with the Construction Innovation Hub (the Hub).

The Innovation Zone is a non-sales environment where visitors can explore new ideas, learn and be inspired. Key innovation themes throughout the show include Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), sustainability, the digital revolution and diversity in the workforce and how they impact risk management, productivity and skills.

At the Hub’s stand at UKCW, visitors can find out more about its platform design initiative – a project to stimulate the design, manufacture, test and assembly of buildings using MMC.

The winner of UKCW’s new Innovation Award will also be announced on the second day of the show. 

The MMC Hub

The MMC Hub will tell the story of how offsite construction components and techniques are increasingly being used beyond housing, into healthcare, education, leisure and retail. MMC-built structures at the show range from a modular care annexe to a structural insulated panel (SIP) residential building, and a factory-finished modular bathroom pod for the high-end hotel sector.

In addition, a large number of product manufacturers and exhibitors will be on hand to discuss their MMC solutions.

Building technology to the fore

Building Tech showcases the latest advancements in automation, lighting, security and communication technology, and shows how these can be integrated into the built environment.

Key exhibitors include Google Nest, which is focusing on creating a helpful home that takes care of the people inside it. Meanwhile Pinnacle Infotech is on hand to provide a range of BIM and CAD solutions. 

The Aurora Lighting Group will showcase its AOne Smart Lighting system, which is compatible with SmartThings and Alexa and can be controlled from anywhere in the world.

There will be more than 600 exhibitors and 10,000 products on show this year

Toolboxit is returning with its cloud-based construction toolbox app, which allows you to send professional documents direct to customers from your phone. Meanwhile Security Technique will showcase its mobile CCTV unit powered by the sun, designed for sites without a permanent power supply.

Also within Building Tech is the Digital Construction Hub, which offers you the chance to hear from digital pioneers on topics including best practice in digital strategy, business transformation through digitalisation, digital innovation, BIM, cloud-based solutions, blockchain and big data.

The rise of timber

Architectural timber structures and award-winning designs will be on display at UKCW, including a number of full-scale buildings. Hear from leading international architects, developers and contractors who are pioneering the use of CLT, glulam and other forms of structural timber in landmark projects at TRADA’s Timber Focus Theatre.

“The Digital Construction Hub offers the chance to hear from digital pioneers on topics including best practice in digital strategy, blockchain and big data.”

Careers Centre and Role Models

New this year is the UKCW Careers Centre. Workshops will offer advice on career progression, apprenticeships, staff retention, diversity, career changers and attracting new talent.

And, for the second year running, the UKCW Role Models initiative will showcase talent from across the industry and aim to inspire others to join.

150 hours of CPD content

This year there will be more than 150 hours of free CPD content, with a different theme for each day of the show – tackling fire safety, health and wellbeing and sustainability.  There are mini-theatres covering regeneration, MMC, digital construction, energy and HVAC, surfaces and materials, timber and the workplace. And you can test out the latest tools at the power tools workshop demo area.

Network with colleagues and peers

This year, a new business and networking lounge has been added, with wifi for all attendees. And if there is a business you want to connect with, you can contact them through the exhibitors’ portal in advance.

The new Building Trades Awards with Fix Radio and the new UKCW Construction Awards will take place. Plus, to encourage young people into construction, the iBuiltThis competition is back.

UKCW is one event with many sections, including Build (sponsored by Easy-Trim), Building Tech, Civils, Energy and HVAC, Surface and Materials, and Timber. It also features Concrete Expo (8-9 October only) and Grand Designs Live (9-10 October only).

Single registration gives access to all areas. For further information visit

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