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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Chamber Blog: BIM - Building Bridges

By Matthew Kershaw, Member Policy and Campaigns Manager at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog post for Techhub Manchester (happy first birthday to them by the way!) talking about the need for bodies such as Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce to start to build bridges between Greater Manchester’s excellent digital companies and our more 'traditional’ sectors, for their mutual benefit. Last week we started what will hopefully be a fruitful conversation between some of our digital members and the construction sector.

The Government’s construction sector industrial strategy, Vision 2025, states that: “We are moving quickly towards a digital economy, with profound implications for our built environment. We must act now to ensure UK construction is at the vanguard of smart construction and digital design.”  With targets to reduce construction cost by 33%, carbon by 50%, time by 50% and improve our export levels by 50%, Vision 2025 recognises that big changes are needed to the way we procure, design and construct our built environment, with emerging digital tools being a big contributor to this. One of the methods being promoted to achieve this is Building Information Modeling (BIM). For more on BIM I can recommend visiting  By 2016 all central government construction projects will demand BIM be used.

My desire for this meeting was to get the two sides of this discussion looking at the opportunities created by the data the BIM process generates about our built environment. Mark Bew, the Chair of the Government’s BIM Task group joined me to lead a conversation between four firms from across the construction sector, who were already aware of BIM, and four varied digital companies, some of whom were coming to this for the first time. Mark did a fantastic job of positioning the government’s thinking in the steps it has implemented for the move to BIM: where in the process, and to what end, various slugs of data are produced, and how the government is trying to ensure that this data follows recognised standards to allow broad access and ease of use.

With Mark’s help to answer further questions and the open and honest contributions of our construction representatives, a productive discussion started up with some really encouraging steps taken. By the end of the meeting it was agreed that the Chamber and Manchester Digital would start work on organising a broader discussion with the digital sector on the opportunities that BIM, and Vision 2025, present. 

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