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    Barbour ABI are creating a monthly series documenting the best the construction industry has to offer. Not organisations, not data-led research, but the people, those people that are championing a cause or producing excellent work in a particular field of expertise.

    Our Focus This Month: Innovation

    When it comes to innovation, it is easy to get carried away with movie like thoughts of innovation.

    Thoughts turn to robots, flying-driverless vehicles and autonomous builds, and although some of these may not be too far from reality, there are innovations within the construction industry that are happening right now or more importantly, there are people within the construction industry that are facilitating these innovations right now.

    Behind every great innovation there are people that are leading the way, those that are willing to try and change the narrative, go against the grain for a better future and a better industry.

    This month Barbour ABI is paying tribute to those amazing people that are pioneering the future of the construction industry, giving kudos to those paving the way in the field of innovation.

    Key Features


    Gabriela Medero & Dr. Sam Chapman, Co-Founders of Kenoteq



    Bio and Background

    Originally from Brazil, Medero has always had a passion for maths and physics, with her roles at Heriot-Watt University as Professor of Eotechnical and Geo-Environmental Engineering and Kenoteq allowing her to express this passion.

    Chapman was originally one of Professor Medero’s students and came to be involved in the K-Briq project when being asked to carry out a carbon assessment on the innovative bricks. A Cumbrian by origin, it was inevitable for Sam to be involved in the world of engineering, following in his father’s footsteps. In 2016 he was awarded an Enterprise Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

    Sam is now the MD of Kenoteq and is focussed on growing the business as well as developing new innovative products.

    Rationale for Being on the List

    Gabriela Medero and Sam Chapman are looking to change the narrative through their company. This can be seen through the innovative work done to develop the K-Briq, which is just the first innovative product to come out of Kentoteq

    Positioned as a ‘clean tech company’ focussing on sustainability and the environmental impact of the construction industry, Kenoteq’s first product is an unfired brick with 90% recycled content from demolition and construction waste called, K-Briq.

    It looks like a normal brick,
    It weights the same as a normal brick
    and behaves like a normal brick

    But this isn’t a normal brick – as it offers better insulation properties and can be manufactured using a tenth of the carbon emissions by avoiding the lengthy firing process. This means each brick can be produced within a 24-hour period.

    A key driver for this innovation was the concern that modern construction methods generally aren’t carbon friendly and a desire to reduce the environmental impact of the construction industry, which at its current rate is viewed as non-sustainable.

    Every part of Medero and Chapman’s innovative remit is to view things differently since the company was founded in 2009, not just creating innovative products, but considerations as to where these products are manufactured. This means producing the bricks locally with the longer-term plan to create further production facilities in recycling centres, where collections as well as drop-offs of materials can be done in one visit. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when considering that 85 per cent of bricks used in Scotland are imported, it highlights how Medero and Chapman are looking to change the narrative and what a huge task lies ahead.

    Facts, Figures and Stats: K-Briq:

    • Recycled content: 90%
    • Can be manufactured within 24 hours
    • It’s claimed that a K-Briq use a tenth of the energy a traditional fired brick does

    Useful Links

    An interview with Gabriela Medero, Professor and Founder of Kenobriq – YouTube


    Arjun Thiru (Thirunavukarasu), Innovation Manager (and Project Lead) at BAM Nuttall


    One Source of Truth Project

    Bio and Background

    Arjun Thiru is the current Innovation Manager for BAM Nuttall, but behind this title there is a lot more to Arjun and what he brings to the modernisation of construction.

    Solving problems and creating opportunities are second nature due to a curious personality which has led him to becoming a trained electrician as well as a trained stock and currency trader.

    Over the past 5 years Arjun has been involved in the research and development of products that test technologies and ask questions around they way things are currently done, such as the trail of 3D printing technologies for concrete waste management and the development of pollution prevention technology systems.

    Now, he is working on some exciting projects within construction, namely the One Source of Truth project and The Learning Camera project, with both projects taking innovative approaches to problems within construction.

    Rationale for Being on the List

    The One Source of Truth project (in partnership with Building Research Establishment, Cranfield University, Glideology and Werner Homes) is a pilot for real-time automated construction monitoring at the Houghton Brook Flood Alleviation Scheme. Using AI-integrated camera and sensor systems to do the following;

    • Streamline estimating
    • Quality assurance
    • Productivity planning
    • Project management
    • Contract administration
    • Carbon accounting

    Each of the above provides benefits to the construction supply chain as well as other stakeholders such as the government and local residents.

    Facts, Figures and Stats

    • The Learning Camera: £200K Innovate UK-funded project
    • One Source of Truth: £653K Innovate UK-funded project

    Useful Links
    The Learning Camera:
    One Source of Truth:


    Eva Magnisali, Founder of DataForm Lab


    Integration of Industrial Robots

    Bio and Background

    It’s easy to think about innovation as a futuristic concept, something that doesn’t yet exist and requires new technology to develop. But what about the ‘now’ innovations, those that being used and having an impact within the construction industry right now?

    Eva Magnisali (current Head of Robotics at Bryden Wood and founder of DataForm Lab) is one such innovator that is focussing on the now.

    DataForm Lab is focused on demystifying robotics as well as creating new workflows for efficiencies within individual elements of the construction supply chain, such as manufacturing, as well as supporting the mass adoption of integrated industrial robotics. While leading this company Eva is helping Bryden Wood to create and implement a Digital Manufacture and Robotics strategy and is currently working on de-risking and optimising the use of 6-axis industrial robotic arms for offsite construction under the Framework for Robotics and Automated Construction (F.R.A.C.).

    Rationale for Being on the List

    As a robotics pioneer and qualified Architect, Eva has shown the benefits of robotic construction onsite and offsite as well as the additional benefits this brings, such as collaborative working and increased productivity.

    On top of this, Eva shares her wealth of knowledge through academia (teaching at the Design Research Laboratory of the Architectural Association and the University of Westminster) as well as running her own workshops under the DataForm Lab brand, ‘aiming to de-mystify industrial robotics and digital fabrication technologies for construction’

    Eva was awarded a March in Architectural Engineering in Greece and an MArch in Architecture and Urbanism at the Design Research Laboratory of the Architectural Association.

    Facts, Figures and Stats

    Robotics are helping to improve the construction industry in three definitive ways – Collaboration, Diversity and Productivity.

    Useful Links

    An interview with Eva Magnisali, Director of DataForm Lab – YouTube


    Trudi Sully, Impact Director at the Construction Innovation Hub


    Strategic planning to ensure delivery of impact, value for money, and to evidence transformation at scale.

    Bio and Background

    Not all innovation takes the form of radically new technology or the latest in venturing into the unknown. Small changes, collaboration and new ways of working are all helping to breathe innovation into the construction industry. No one knows this better than Trudi Sully, the Impact Director at the Construction Innovation Hub (CIH) who is helping the construction industry deliver innovative solutions in a multitude of areas.

    To fully understand why Trudi makes this list, it is important to grasp the work that the CIH is doing.

    The CIH is a 4-year, £72 million UKRI-funded programme at the forefront of new design, production, delivery and the operation of both buildings and infrastructure to make a positive impact on society. Helping to develop solutions that are driving the transformation of the construction industry, right across the supply chain as part of the Construction Sector Deal in 2018.

    Rationale for Being on the List

    As part of the CIH Trudi works closely with UK government departments, key industry groups, clients and contractors across many supply chains. Trudi is relatively new to the construction industry, it isn’t her first rodeo. Trudi comes with bags of experience in innovation management, strategic stakeholder engagement and transformational change programmes in public and private sector roles. This experience means that Trudi can drive and support transformation in the construction sector.

    Trudi is all about challenging the norm and embracing change to see people and organisations thrive, which in turn is what makes her thrive within this current role. And, when it comes to innovation, it is just as important to look to adapt and adopt as it is to exposing organisations and individuals to the latest new shiny objects. This is apparent when it comes to establishing influential teams and networks that help to drive innovation, which Trudi pioneers.

    In an industry that can be slow to react and embrace change Trudi’s true skill is her strict ‘no bull’ policy!

    Facts, Figures and Stats

    • CIH is a 4-year, £72 million UKRI-funded programme

    Useful Links

    An interview with Trudi Sully, Impact Director at the Construction Innovation Hub – YouTube


    Stephen Good, CEO at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre


    Helping Scottish Organisations Adopt New Innovative Solutions

    Bio and Background

    With a background in architecture and a passion for the built environment, Stephen’s introduction to construction started at a very early age when visiting interesting buildings with his father. Going on to train as an architect before transitioning into construction and manufacturing.

    Now with a focus on innovation, Stephen is the CEO of The Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), launched in 2014 as Scotland’s national innovation centre for construction and the built environment.

    With a background that has covered sustainability consultancy, architectural design, offsite manufacturing and construction management sectors Stephen is primed to deliver on “change that unlocks new value” – CSICs definition of innovation.

    The CSIC has supported more than 350 projects of which 281 have been completed as of July 2020, so it is easy to see the impact Stephen and his team are having on the industry.

    Rationale for Being on the List

    Stephen and his team at CSIC are helping organisations and the Scottish construction industry in general, not only to adopt new innovative solutions (some of which you’ve seen on this innovation list – the K-Briq (Kenoteq) for example) but deliver business and industry growth.

    It is not just singular innovative changes within construction that Stephen is focussed on, but the links that can be formed through the supply chain including clients, businesses, university experts and public sector agencies, all of which in collaboration can enhance the diversity within the industry and have a bigger impact, driving through transformational changes.

    This is never more apparent than in the fact that CSIC is hosted by Edinburgh Napier University and based at their own Innovation Factory (35,000 sq ft. facility designed to support collaboration and innovation) at Hamilton International Technology Park.

    Facts, Figures and Stats

    • Since 2014, CSIC has worked on more than 300 projects, creating almost 4,000 jobs and more than £1bn of revenue for the Scottish construction industry.
    • Innovation Factory was the UK construction industry’s first dedicated digital manufacturing, prototyping, and future skills centre of excellence

    Useful Links–stephen-good-at-the-construction-scotland-innovation-centre/5111217.article


    Lee Ramsey, Design Management and BIM Director at Morgan Sindall

    Bio and Background

    When the words ‘digital transformation’ are used within construction, you’d be forgiven for thinking that BIM (Building Information Modelling) was the only show in town. It’s true that BIM is utilising tools, technology and data to make better informed decisions within the industry, but it isn’t the only show in town as Lee Ramsey, Design Management and BIM Director at Morgan Sindall can testify and feels that sometimes the term BIM can be a barrier that restricts future growth.

    Lee has been leading design management and digital construction within Morgan Sindall for ten years, which does include BIM, but so much more such as AR (Augmented Reality) and Robotic Scanning.

    Alongside Lee’s role at Morgan Sindall, he is the Digital Information Management (DigIM) Lead for the National Association of Construction Frameworks (NACF) where he created the NACF’s overall strategy, benchmarking process and toolkit.

    To understand how important this role and the NACF is, you need look no further than the detailed research programme from a few years ago that highlighted the critical role that facilities management plays in the success of a project. The Association started to work with facilities management experts to better understand how 3D modelling could help run their estates.

    Rationale for Being on the List

    Looking to the future, Lee understands that it’s about adapting and identifying new ways of working that will really make a difference. Within Morgan Sindall this has included;

    • Using 3D models on sites for visualisation
    • They have trialled Augmented Reality taking real world images and overlaying this with a digital representation of the project
    • Use of robotic scanning
    • Integration of AI for real-time insight
    • Autodesk BIM 360

    These types of digital ways of working are increasing productivity at Morgan Sindall as well as helping the company to grow sustainably.

    Even though the technology is important, Lee knows that both the people and the processes behind this technology are what makes it work. To see the benefits this new tech can bring a dynamic mind-set is needed that is open to change, as the current ways of delivering a project become obsolete.

    Facts, Figures and Stats

    • Digital construction has enabled 26% of projects to be ahead of programme and reduced variations by 4%.

    Useful Links



    It takes time, patience and ingenuity to try and change traditional ways of working for a more advanced approach, an approach that doesn’t forget an industries history but looks to change things for a better future.

    The people was give Kudos to today are pioneering the future within construction, not because they are told to or are following a step-by-step guide but because they believe there are better ways of doing things and are willing to work hard behind the scenes to make these things happen.

    If you liked reading this then check out our previous editions below, where we highlight more amazing figures who are making major strides in future talent and sustainability:

    Future Talent Seekers