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Innovation is the key to survival for Northern Ireland’s hard-pressed construction industry – that is the message from University of Ulster experts launching the second phase of a unique development initiative in Belfast today.

Hosted by Ulster’s Centre for Constructing Excellence in Northern Ireland, the ‘Demonstration Projects Programme’ is designed to promote innovation and distribute best practice knowledge throughout the industry.  

The project celebrates the region’s most cutting-edge, live construction projects and holds them up as exemplars of how other professionals in the sector could emulate their success.

This second phase of the initiative, which was originally launched in April 2009, sees seven new projects join the programme. They include innovative plans for state-of-the-art buildings such as the new £17million Metropolitan Arts Centre (MAC) in Belfast’s burgeoning Cathedral Quarter and the new Acute Hospital for the South West, Enniskillen.  

Speaking at the launch, George Heaney, Professor of Construction in the School of the Built Environment at Ulster and Director of Constructing Excellence in Northern Ireland, said: “The construction industry must continue to innovate during the current economic crisis. Innovation is not always about big new headline products but about incremental steps in the continuous improvement of products and processes. Innovation needs to be at the heart of the industry’s efforts to improve productivity and develop new capabilities, business and markets.

“Demonstration Projects provide real opportunities to capture the learning from the innovation and best practice which will flow from these projects. This in turn can be used in teaching and research and in professional development of the wider industry. These projects provide excellent opportunities for academics and project teams to develop greater understanding and collaborate on student placements and site visits.”  

Professor Ian Montgomery, Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment added: “One of the core strategic aims of the University is to provide excellent learning opportunities which are student-centred and client-focused. I am delighted to see the collaboration between industry and the School of the Built Environment in promoting learning and sharing from these live construction projects.”

Mark Lowry, President of the Construction Employers Federation, said: “The Northern Ireland Construction Industry has proven itself to be up to the task of delivering excellence.  

“The Constructing Excellence in Northern Ireland Demonstration Programme is a valuable mechanism for transferring knowledge within the local construction industry.

“Organisations involved in the Demonstration process have made notable achievements by ensuring projects have better predictability of delivery on time and to budget, improved productivity, reduced environmental impact from their construction activities, zero defects at handover and high customer satisfaction.” 

For further information on the NI Demonstration Projects Programme contact Colin Smyth, CEni Development Manager on telephone: 028 9036 6807 or email: alternatively visit: