Innovative Scottish timber companies to share £100,000 of support

CSIC support winners of Scotland’s first construction “Hackathon”

Sunday, 24th April 2016
Jordan Mongan

The winners of Scotland’s first construction “hackathon” will have their innovative idea for a digital built heritage tool supported by the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC).

CSIC is a partnership between industry, academia and the public sector and the one-stop shop where Scotland’s 31,000+ construction businesses can access a team of experts and public support to help them to innovate.

Hack_Construct, which took place in Glasgow recently, brought together around 65 construction industry professionals and digital experts to work on solving construction challenges via digital solutions. Founded by Darren Lester of Specified by  and Ryan Tennyson of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, the first event was organised and delivered in partnership with CSIC and with support from Innovate UK, the Data Lab Scotland, BIM 2050 and the Knowledge Transfer Network.

Ryan Tennyson commented: “The concept of hackathons as a way of unlocking new ideas and digital solutions may be relatively new in the construction industry, but they have been used in the tech industry for close to a decade. They expose talented software developers, data scientists, web designers and gamers to opportunities in an alternative sector, whilst giving construction industry professionals a glimpse into what can be achieved through involving different people, technologies and skillsets.”

Five concepts were developed, but the winner of Best Overall Innovation at Hack_Construct is a digital built heritage tool, whichcombines cloud servers with the latest gaming technology to link various sources of information and encourage new content. The tool seeks to reveal the spirit of a place (its genius loci) by linking people, stories, and heritage information into one accessible platform, creating opportunities for engagement between heritage professionals, community members and visitors.

Leader of the winning team, architect Natasha Huq (Natasha Huq Architect, Edinburgh) is aiming to trial the tool in an ongoing project with Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust, as part of the community engagement element of the Edinburgh World Heritage “Twelve Closes Project”, which aims to transform the Old Town’s under-used medieval closes that are currently perceived as unloved or unsafe.

Natasha said: “We’d like to see recent developments in technology being applied in an accessible and useful way to encourage ongoing community engagement and bring alive the stories of the Closes, not just for tourists but for everyone interested in our built heritage.”

Darren Lester said: “The judges were impressed by the winning team’s collective enthusiasm, experience and skillsets, which over the course of the weekend developed a concept into a potentially marketable platform, complete with supporting technology and integrated apps.”

The Construction Scotland Innovation Centre is now working with the winning team to help take the project forward. This support may involve facilitation and academic support.

Stephen Good, Chief Executive at CSIC said: “We are really excited about helping the winning idea move forward. The construction industry is changing, and digital solutions to problems are key to the industry moving with the times. Hackathons are a fantastic way to harness innovative ideas such as this one, and to demonstrate to the construction industry just what can be achieved.

He added: “We’ve had extremely positive feedback on Hack_Construct. We hope this will be the first of many hackathons supported by CSIC, and that they will provide us with a steady pipeline of exciting new opportunities to support.”

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