Construction companies in the East Midlands have a new ally, following the latest appointment by the Sustainable Construction Innovation Network (iNet).
The iNet has strengthened its team for 2010 with the appointment of Gillian Ward-Stokes as its Innovation Adviser with a specific remit to support companies linked to the construction sector.
Gillian, 28, from Northampton, joined the iNet earlier this month (February), having worked in the construction industry for the past three years and more recently as a Business Development & Events Manager at the Building Research Establishment (BRE). While at BRE, her responsibilities included researching the latest trends in the construction industry to develop training and events programmes.
In her new role, Gillian will encourage East Midlands construction companies to embrace the commercial and environmental benefits of sustainable construction, through events, expert advice and funding.
Gillian says: "It’s great to be a part of such a forward thinking organisation and I’m looking forward to working closely with some of the regions most innovative companies. The future of the construction industry is reliant on its ability to adapt to a changing climate both environmentally and commercially. End users are increasingly looking for added value through environmental technologies and reductions in utility costs, while construction firms and manufacturers are taking advantage of new techniques to reduce costs and CO2 emissions."
Charles Meynell, Senior Innovation Adviser at the iNet, says: "We’re really pleased to have Gillian on board. The iNet did some sterling work in 2009, bringing organisations from across the East Midlands together and helping to encourage more companies to realise new markets through the application of innovative ideas. In 2010 we’re looking to assist even more East Midlands’ construction companies."
Funded by the East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Sustainable Construction iNet has a number of roles, particularly in helping SMEs innovate and generate profits and jobs. The iNet focuses on a number of key annual themes in delivering support to businesses through targeted grants and in-depth, sector specific advice.
As well as offering specialist advice and organising and hosting industry-leading events, the iNet also provides funding programmes to support innovation in the construction sector to increase productivity, long-term sustainability and business growth.
The iNet offers financial support through two schemes; the Innovation Support Grant (ISG) offering up to £10,000 matched funding and Collaborative R&D Fund (previously known as HECF), in collaboration with higher education institutions, which can offer larger grants for projects.
To qualify for an ISG the applicant must be operating commercially in construction or an associated industry sector such as mining, quarrying, waste management, energy or water, or in professional services such as architecture or surveying. They must also require technical or consultancy assistance for their idea, product or process and expect to protect or create jobs in the East Midlands as a result.
The Collaborative Fund provides grants for companies to access the support and expertise of the region’s universities and/or technical colleges. The fund requires two or more East Midlands’ higher education institutions and one or more SME construction companies, employing fewer than 250 people, to work together towards a commercial goal that will ultimately deliver competitive advantage.
The partnership created as a result of the Collaboration Fund must also enable the applicant to bid for even larger sums from the European Union and other sources.