High on the priority list for any nation looking to increase its standard of living is the issue of innovation within its borders and capturing its value. This section of BRANZ's website is intended to give a window into activities within New Zealand, and globally, that are aiming to increase innovation with reference to the building and construction industry.
Many of the agreed indicators of a highly innovative culture are present in New Zealand, and yet to the frustration of the Government, this is not reflected in the trade balance. For the building industry, the problem is often even more difficult to unravel as exports from the sector are comparatively low.
The counterpoint to this is the nature of the products delivered by the industry: many of the buildings constructed in New Zealand are prototypes; they represent a first attempt at creating a building with a particular combination of materials, design and function and in most cases are never replicated. So the high level of on-site innovation required to create such buildings cannot be directly applied to the next, or codified into a process - instead it lives in the brains of the builders and other project staff. For some, it becomes their source of competitive advantage. For others, it is never used again - and becomes lost.
International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) (2009-current)
The (CIB) has launched a Task Group looking at innovation in the construction sector.
Lincoln University (2008-current)
Lincoln University has been conducting research into cultural aspects of innovation, in New Zealand and overseas, and also into three sectors of New Zealand's economy - farming, energy, and building. The Ministry of Science and Innovation are the main funders; BRANZ is co-funding the work. Read some background to the project by Lincoln University's Technology Users' Innovation (TUI) - the social science is very interesting for what it says about New Zealanders' approach to innovation.
Read John Duncan's paper Innovation in the building sector - trends and new technologies prepared for the IPENZ Convention, Wellington, 25 March 2002.
Construction Innovation Cooperative Research Consortium
Australia's Construction Innovation Cooperative Research Consortium (now concluded) produced a number of interesting papers on innovation in the building sector. The outputs are archived on the Queensland University of Technology website.