New ideas in Costain's 'Dragons' Den'
A Dragons’ Den-style event inviting businesses and entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas for construction-related innovations has revealed some exciting potential new products, says organiser Costain.
Blue Innovation Futures is a three-day event being being run in Sheffield, Cardiff and London this week. Each day, a shortlisted group of around 14 innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses must stand before a panel of Costain judges and pitch their propositions for marketable technology or services for use in either the rail, water, power or highway sectors.
The most promising ideas stand to win a slice of the contractor’s £6m annual operational innovation budget, or receive technical support to help grow businesses and bring them closer to reality.
Some of the most interesting innovations so far have included:
- A specification smart phone app, developed by a young Scottish architect, designed to make it easier to locate specific products using advanced search criteria, which also provides manufacturers with info on the types of people searching for their materials.
- A proposal for a new consultancy that would help small businesses recycle certain waste materials and turn them into more valuable steel products or Carbon Black Oil.
- A metal tool tray that slots into scaffolding bars to prevent tools from being left on the deck and potentially falling off and injuring someone.
Tim Embley, group innovation and knowledge manager at Costain, told Construction Manager: “We had a vast number of applicants which we’ve whittled down to the firms who presented. The individuals or organisations are in various stages of progression, some have ideas based on early research who are now looking to turn them into a commercial application or service, there are small businesses that have identified a niche in the market and want help to grow and there are larger organisations with great ideas but not much knowledge of construction who were looking to identify ways to transfer them over in partnership with Costain.”
The innovations selected during the event, which concludes this Friday, will be assessed by Costain in conjunction with its supply chain to determine whether they will work in practice and add value to projects.
If Costain sees a good return on its investment then it is likely to put money into developing them, but for most of the firms pitching that isn’t the main goal, says Embley: “Not everyone is asking for money, most are looking to build relationships to bring an idea forward or gain better access to market through Costain, or get visibility via our customers. We also see it as important not to restrict these ideas or put confidentiality agreements into place and keep t hem exclusively for Costain. Some of them will have the potential to transform the market in future and we want to encourage that in any way we can.”