Engineering firms launch Consultancy Sector Futures Institute

02 March 2020 5 min. read
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A coalition of the world’s largest engineering consultancies have committed to a new proposed £225 million five-year partnership between industry, academia and government. The Consultancy Sector Futures Institute aims to help the engineering sector adapt to the challenges of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ that is digitalisation.

Engineering consulting in the UK faces a plethora of innovative new challenges in the years ahead. As digitalisation continues to ramp up across the business spectrum, and new techniques and practices are subsequently developed, demand from the engineering sector for consulting expertise will be high.

In order to prepare for this, a consortium of 28 business leaders have written to UK Construction Minister Nadhim Zahawi outlining their support for a new cross-sector institution. The CEOs include those of the biggest companies in the engineering consulting sector – AECOMArcadisArupAtkinsMaceMott MacDonald and WSP – and leaders from Loughborough University, University of Salford and University College London.

Engineering firms launch Consultancy Sector Futures Institute

The partnership will see the consultancies collaborate with the mentioned academic partners to implement innovation and best-practice across the industry. It is modelled on the catapults seen in other industries, such as manufacturing, in order to help engineering firms harness the digital revolution and deliver long-term solutions for Government – unlocking productivity, unleashing regional growth and helping to deliver a decarbonised society in the process.

Current proposals are for the Institute’s core-funding to be split three ways between BEIS, Innovate UK and the engineering industry. The letter set out the private sector’s commitment to the Association of Consultancy and Engineering’s (ACE) proposal for the creation of the Consultancy Sector Futures Institute, with financial commitment and resources from the industry to the sum of £75 million over five years. At the same time, it asked the Government to demonstrate its own commitment with an announcement at the upcoming Budget.

Hannah Vickers, chief executive of ACE, said, “With our industry on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution, the Institute will help every consultancy transition successfully – from the largest global firms to the most specialist SMEs. This programme will build on our current position as world leaders and set a new global standard for consultancy and engineering in the built environment. For Government, our enhanced capability will mean progress on some of the most difficult questions society faces.”

A full list of the 28 industry co-signatories:

  • Hannah Vickers, Chief Executive, Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE)
  • David Barwell, UK&I CEO, AECOM
  • Mark Cowlard, CEO, Arcadis UK & Ireland
  • Geoff Hunt, Director and COO, Arup
  • Richard Robinson, CEO, Atkins
  • Sarah Prichard, UK Managing Director, BuroHappold
  • Dave Spencer, Managing Director, Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure
  • Mark Farmer, CEO, Cast Consultancy & Government MMC Champion
  • Keith Waller, Programme Director, Construction Innovation Hub
  • Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)
  • Steven Hale, Director, Crofton Consulting
  • Thomas Neeson, Managing Partner, Cundall
  • Rob Melling, Chief Executive, Curtins
  • Simon D Innes, Managing Director, Goodson Associates
  • Mark Arthur, MEP Director, HDR | Hurley Palmer Flatt Group
  • Mark Reynolds, Mace & Construction Leadership Council (CLC) member
  • Chris Dulake, Global Railway & Transit Leader, Mott MacDonald
  • Mathew Riley, Managing Director, Ramboll UK
  • Ann Bentley, Global Board Director, Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) and Construction Leadership Council (CLC) member
  • Craig Huntbach, Global Director – Maritime & Aviation, Royal HaskoningDHV
  • Nick Smith, Director, Siemens.
  • Andy Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer, Tideway and Construction Leadership Council (CLC) chair
  • Chris Young, Executive Managing Director, Tony Gee
  • Nick Taylor, Chief Executive, Waterman
  • Mark Naysmith, UK CEO, WSP in the UK.

In addition, the letter was also co-signed by the following academic project partners:

  • Robert Allison, Vice Chancellor, Loughborough University
  • Joanne Purves, Pro Vice-Chancellor – International and Regional Partnerships, University of Salford
  • Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost, University College London (UCL)