UK Infrastructure Show 2019 – building connections
April 30th saw the NEC, Birmingham, hosting the UK Infrastructure Show for its third outing.
This year’s show built on the successes from 2018, and saw it combine with Procurex Live, the UK’s premier Public Procurement event supporting those buying and supplying in the public arena.
On the day over 1,400 delegates enjoyed over 30 free training sessions, five speakers in the Keynote Arena, six Public Sector Solutions Live speakers, four Networking & Collaboration Zones, a Product Showcase Exhibition and the wealth of knowledge demonstrated in the four skills development zones throughout the event.
The infrastructure sector is one of the most exciting to be part of at the moment; with the UK hosting what is currently Europe’s largest infrastructure project in HS2, and the publication of the National Infrastructure Pipeline providing a backdrop of some 700 projects comprising over £600Bn in infrastructure spend scheduled for the next decade.
UKIS 2019 reflected the excitement and anticipation within the sector, with delegates coming together to hear the latest ideas, trends and development in infrastructure and the way ahead.
In the Keynote Arena, Phil Graham of the National Infrastructure Commission, set the tone for the show, with a fantastic speech on the ambitions the Commission has for the sector and how it intends to ensure Government pushes infrastructure forward in the country.
Collaboration emerged as the key theme for the show, with all speakers urging a joined up approach to infrastructure; ensuring that everyone’s needs are met, across the country, leaving no one behind. A number of speakers believed that devolution was the key to ensuring this and long-term funding commitments are required to ensure infrastructure sector can pave the way to a brighter and stable future.
The Keynote Arena further hosted Matthew Vickerstaff, Interim Chief Executive of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, who discussed how delivery of the pipeline will be achieved. Looking at strategic investment, infrastructure priorities, and the challenges in improving infrastructure performance.
With some 50% of UK infrastructure delivered privately, Mr Vickerstaff discussed the challenges of providing certainty, with PFI contracts at an end, he looked to how the private sector and government can support each other in achieving the sector’s ambitions. He announced a review of infrastructure finance and encouraged the infrastructure community to make their voice heard.
He was followed by an informative session with HS2 Chief Engineer, Mark Howard, who discussed the challenges of physically delivering such a massive undertaking on (and under!) the ground. Once again, collaboration came through as the key, with Mark highlighting the need for a joined up approach across the country, providing a rebalance of the economy and ensuring all areas of the UK benefit from HS2 and other vital infrastructure works.
He said that there is a need for a joined up network – not a choice.
“A talent for following the ways of yesterday,” declared King Wu-ling of Zhao in north-eastern China, in 307 BC, “is not sufficient to improve the world of today.” Catherine de Marco, Deputy Director of Infrastructure Skills and Efficiency at the Department for Transport, began her address with this gem of knowledge. The world is changing rapidly, she said, and to seize that opportunity we need to change the way we do things and embrace new skills from across the spectrum.
With skills being one of the major talking points throughout infrastructure, and construction in its entirety, Miss de Marco’s address focussed on how the skills gap is being addressed, and in particular the legacy that infrastructure development alongside new technology and digital systems can leave.
The final speaker of the day was Adrian Hill of Scape Procure – a procurement specialist that offers a suite of direct award frameworks, property services and innovative design solutions. Once again, talk was of creating a joined up system, ensuring not just economic impact, but real social value through projects. To look at outputs not just outcomes, and that infrastructure is not just about investing in projects but investing in communities.
The theme of collaboration was summed up by Sarah Spinks of Midlands Connect, who said: “We can make a bigger impact when working together. With the right connections in the right places (in terms of people, places and projects!) we can efficiently address future challenges.”
UK Infrastructure Show 2019 proved an invaluable resource for those looking to create and build connections within the supply chain, and we look forward to welcoming you again next year.
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