NEW ideas to radically change the construction industry are urgently needed if the housing shortage is to be addressed quickly and safely, the Berkeley Group said today.
This comes as Berkeley launches a new £2m Innovation Fund and challenges individuals and inventors, as well as companies and universities, to come up with bright ideas that change the way people think and work in construction.
42 people lost their lives on building sites in England in 2013. Over 5,000 were seriously injured. Meanwhile, the industry is faced with intense demands to increase production and build more complex structures, often on brownfield sites in dense busy cities.
"The sheer volume of work going on is testing the industry," says Rob Perrins, Managing Director of the Berkeley Group. "Companies and staff are running flat out to gear up production and tackle the housing crisis."
"The industry is having to work with less experienced people, in multiple languages, with plant and equipment in high demand. That generates fresh hazards in a business that is inherently risky."
"Fundamentally, I don't believe this is a problem you can solve directly with money. It demands fresh ideas, which is where this Innovation Fund comes in."
Berkeley's Innovation Fund will make grants of between £250 and £250,000 over the next two years. Anyone with a bright idea which will lead to safer sites, a healthier workforce or develop the people who work in construction is invited to bid for investment. Applicants are encouraged to visit www.berkeleyinnovationfund.co.uk or to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The initiative is one of 16 commitments made by the Berkeley Group as part of its ambition to become a world class business. www.berkeleygroup.co.uk/about-berkeley-group/our-vision
The venue for the launch is the Royal Society of Arts in London, considered the intellectual home of some of the greatest thinkers and social activists of the past 250 years.
Notes to editors:
1. The Berkeley Group is the only private company in Britain providing grants targeted at improving health and safety standards in the construction industry. The Fund is part of Berkeley's ambition to operate incident and injury free, and have a positive health impact on all the people employed and affected by the company.
2. Interviews with Barry Oliver, Berkeley's Group Health and Safety Executive, are available on 07799 861590 on 27th January or on an embargoed basis prior to 27th Jan on 01932 584629.
3. The Berkeley Group builds homes and neighbourhoods. It is publicly-owned and listed on the London Stock Exchange as a FTSE 250 company.
4. In 2014, the Berkeley Group supported 21,000 jobs in the UK. Each new home built by the business sustained 5.6 jobs across the UK. Berkeley also contributed £1.4 billion to Britain's GDP.
5. Berkeley recently won the Queens Award for Enterprise (2014). It was voted Britain's second Most Admired Company across all industries in 2013 and has been ranked Britain's most sustainable major housebuilder for the last eight years in a row by the Next Generation benchmark.
6. The Berkeley Foundation supports young people and their communities across London and the South of England. It is a registered charity and has invested £5m in over 60 charities since it was launched in 2011. Staff from the Berkeley Group have raised over £1m.