Construct Innovate




Construct Innovate

COLM MCHUGH, Centre Manager, Construct Innovate, reflects on what was an exciting first year for Ireland’s construction technology centre, and he sets out some of the research opportunities for 2024 based on industry feedback from its most recent AIMday event.



In its first year of operation, Construct Innovate, Ireland’s national research centre for construction technology and innovation, hit the ground running with 18 Seed Fund research projects of nearly €1m total value. The Centre, a partnership between Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, the Irish Green Building Council and its host institution, University of Galway, has a vision to make Ireland a global leader for sustainable construction and built environment technology.

Since its inception, Construct Innovate has welcomed Technological University (TU) Dublin and, most recently, South East Technological University (SETU) and Atlantic Technological University (ATU) as research-performing members. This further deepens the extent of academic expertise that is accessible to industry through the Centre.

To this end, Construct Innovate brings together over 25 multidisciplinary research groups across the partner institutions. The research focus and activities are informed and directed by the industry members, organisations operating across the construction and built environment sector, who are ideally placed to identify the key challenges to be addressed so the industry can move forward.

The Construct Innovate researchers have a strong track record in research and innovation, with expertise in digital adoption, modern methods of construction, and sustainability, collaborating with over 200 industry partners on innovative and impactful R&D projects worth over €300m between 2017 and 2022.

At its core, Construct Innovate provides opportunities for industry members to engage with and get involved in research, development and innovation (RD&I) through collaboration with the Centre’s research partners under the five pillars of:

– Productivity, affordability & cost

– Quality & safety

– Sustainability

– Skills & training

– Collaboration


Construct Innovate members

Construct Innovate members can access various funding opportunities and collaborate with relevant stakeholders to tackle their specific and industry-wide challenges – from investigating new technologies or emerging industry trends to adapting existing technologies and processes in response to specific construction-related challenges. This provides opportunities for the Irish construction sector that is modernising and becoming more sustainable.

The Centre also offers a range of resources and training opportunities to improve industry awareness and education on research and innovation-related topics. One such example is the ongoing Construct Innovate webinar series. Since September 2023, Construct Innovate, with support from Engineers Ireland West Region, has been running weekly online webinars on the most pressing topics for the construction industry. The completed modules of “Sustainability Planning in Construction” and “Digital Construction Technologies” are now available on the Centre’s website. The third module, “Modern Methods of Construction”, commenced in January 2024 and will be followed by “Innovation & Entrepreneurship”. In total, over 70 industry speakers will have presented across the series.

The impact of Construct Innovate in its first 12 months of operation is realised through the membership of 60 companies and eight research-performing organisations; €2m in equipment funding secured from Enterprise Ireland to support industry research needs; 10 research projects completed; and 18 project awards to industry-academic partnerships under the Centre’s first Seed Fund Call.

Construct Innovate
Construct Innovate

Workshops and networking play important roles in generating discussions during Construct Innovate AIMDays.


Construct Innovate academic-industry meeting day events, or AIMdays, are a vital part of identifying areas for RD&I. AIMdays bring together key stakeholders from the construction industry, academia and research bodies to discuss and workshop industry-led challenges faced by the Irish construction and built environment sector.

In October 2023, Construct Innovate held its second AIMday at Trinity College, Dublin.

It was a really positive event, with over 70 attendees participating across eight separate and distinct workshops, with numerous potential research opportunities identified.

Future AIMdays will continue to develop meaningful research projects that can support industry members as the Irish construction sector transitions to a more modern, sustainable, and productive sector. The next Construct Innovate AIMday is planned for late April 2024, details of which will be available on the Construct Innovate website.

The recent AIMday also provided an opportunity for networking and presentations on interesting, exciting and valuable activities happening in the Centre and the wider industry.

Speakers on the day included Pat Barry, CEO, the Irish Green Building Council; Martin Searson, Head of MMC Certification, the National Standards Authority Ireland; Paul Butler, Director, Enterprise Ireland; and Éadaoin Ní Fhearghail, Architectural Advisor, the Department of Housing Local Government and Heritage. All presentations can be listened to on the Construct Innovate website.

AIMDAY workshops

Various discussion points emerged from the AIMday workshop sessions. These items are being evaluated by academic and industry members to understand best where the research opportunities lie. A few already have formed the basis of project applications for the centre’s most recent Seed Fund Call.

Skills & training

Discussions arose around the lack of information, awareness and guidance available to organisations in the construction industry across a variety of topics, especially a continuously changing legislative context around sustainability and low-carbon construction in the built environment. Our industry needs support to understand these changes and how it will impact organisations across the supply chain. Construct Innovate can work with industry and academic stakeholders to provide skills and training support through research and training.

Quality & safety

In the area of quality and safety, workshop discussions identified various challenges, from ensuring proper testing and auditing of certified construction products on the Irish market to the environmental safety for the inhabitants of some of our existing building stock.

A common theme in all discussions was the testing of materials and products, from cement products to recycled materials. As with the previous AIMday in May 2023, the availability of test facilities for construction products and systems in Ireland was highlighted as a challenge/barrier to industry efficiency and innovation.


Sustainability permeated across all workshops. Some of the critical issues that were identified as needing urgent attention included:

  • Exploring opportunities for developing existing research around sustainable concrete and cement production and use
  • Large-scale retrofit activities
  • Decarbonisation of construction stage processes
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA) in calculating the environmental impacts of building and infrastructure projects, products and portfolios.

These are all critical areas of interest for the construction and built environment sector in the coming years, and research opportunities to support the development of knowledge in these areas will be a key focus of Construct Innovate members.

In conclusion

Colm McHugh, Construct Innovate Centre Manager, is looking forward to the year ahead.

“We will build on the work completed in 2023 as we move forward in 2024. As well as expanding our operational team based at the University of Galway to better support members and building research capacity through Construct Innovate innovation researchers, we also plan to expand our range of supports available to members.

“I am particularly excited about getting the 18 recently-awarded Seed Fund projects up and running, amounting to nearly €1m in direct funding from the Centre for industry-led and industry-focused research projects.

“Research and innovation are at the heart of how the Centre aims to positively impact the Irish construction industry as it transitions to a more productive and sustainable sector. Our projects will be delivered through direct collaboration between our academic and industry members and should have a tangible impact within their organisations and across the wider sector. These projects are where the rubber meets the road, so it’s very exciting for everyone involved in Construct Innovate.

The Centre plans further events over the course of the year to provide networking and research opportunities for members to develop the ongoing conversations that started in 2023 and stimulate new opportunities.

“The next AIMday in April is just one example of this. This year will be about building on the work we have begun or completed to date and further engaging the wider industry through the delivery of impactful research and supports. We’re looking forward to the challenge,” concludes Colm McHugh.

For enquiries about how your organisation can become a member of Construct Innovate, please email


To learn more about upcoming events or view our webinar series to date, visit

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