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Part II: Exclusive with Adam Matthews – Chairman of EU BIM Task Group

In the second part of the interview, UK Construction Online’s Abigail Burr talks to Adam Matthews, Chairman of EU BIM Task Group, on the progress of BIM across the EU, Britain’s role and the impact of Brexit.

Where would you say the majority of countries are on their BIM journey?

This will be answered more fully in the report of the survey recently conducted. I wouldn’t want to pre-empt its findings and conclusions. However, the group recognises that there is a full range from those just starting to explore what BIM means to a public stakeholder/client to those like Norway, UK and Netherlands that are implementing their programme with industry.

What is remarkable has been the journey since 2013, where we started the group with a just handful of nations with active programmes to now – with over 20 nations involved and the European Commission on-board.  I think that speaks volumes about the recognition of the value proposition of BIM to the public sector.

What countries would you say are further along on their BIM journeys?

There is no hard and fast rule here to describe ‘furthest along’.  For example, the UK programme has the goal to engage the whole value chain transformation of its construction sector, which employs near 3 million. Whereas –Finland, a country of 5 million people, has adopted a highly detailed approach to prescribing specific technical operations at the ‘atomic level’. Which is furthest along?

What is easier to say is the group agrees that we are all heading in the same direction, along similar journeys but going at different speeds.  Another important point is to encourage trading opportunities: no country is so far ahead that they can’t be brought on to a common path with others to support common trading practice across borders. This for me is the real test for the group.

For me, one of the most impressive things about the EU BIM Task Group is that all nations are approaching with an open mind and prepared to debate different aspects of adoption and there is no sense at this time of protecting national positions to the detriment of harmonisation.

After all, BIM is just part of a broader digital transition across governments, across Europe and across the world.

What is being done to help countries that are not as progressed?

Approximately one third of the group have a BIM programme or are in the process of developing one, so this group is actually aimed to share practice with those nations that have yet to start developing a BIM programme….

The survey I mentioned will collate experience from around Europe on the public introduction of BIM and from this with a series of meetings and workshops will help to inform a general recommendation. This recommendation will be made available publicly as a handbook to inform public estate owners, public procurers and policy makers across Europe.

Looking globally,   I think it fair to say that outside a few notable exceptions including China, Singapore and Hong Kong many countries are still evolving their response to BIM. So this handbook has a wider audience possibly.

What is Britain’s role in this?

The UK is the lead coordinator of the EU BIM Task Group as it was nominated by others to have the funding contract with the European Commission for the project.  This contract is administered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).  The UK provides a small project office to coordinate the programme and my time is provided to Chair. However, I do not represent the UK interest in the group, this is done by others from the UK BIM Task Group. My role is to independently represent the group members and the programme to the European Commission and to the lead coordinator.

Will Brexit affect Britain’s role?

No, not in this immediate project.  The project has a two year timeframe, and we are already over eight months in – and the UK will remain a full EU member for two years after its exit is formally triggered.

I cannot say that Brexit would have no effect on the UK’s involvement in the future, however while I would accept there is naturally some uncertainty – I firmly believe that this project is part of a European agenda.  I would very much hope the support received from the UK and towards the UK would continue in support of this vital work.


To read part I of the interview, click here.

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