Construction innovation centre approves first projects

Plans for the UK’s first patented prefabricated timber frame party wall system are among the first six projects to be approved by the £9.5 million Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC).

Alex Goodfellow, managing director of Stewart Milne Timber Systems

The system is the brainchild of Aberdeen-based Stewart Milne Group, which will receive almost £100,000 of investment by CSIC to help bring the product through the industrial research and development stage and onto the market.

Glasgow Caledonian University and Edinburgh Napier University will contribute to product design and performance validation in a laboratory and site environment to analyse the product’s structural, acoustic, fire and thermal performance.

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With a total value of more than £800,000, the project has also secured £230,000 of government funding from Innovate UK.

The project aims to create 24 jobs at Stewart Milne’s Scottish and English production plants through the creation of two production lines to manufacture the walls, which can be used in the construction of housing, hotels and student accommodation.

Alex Goodfellow, managing director of Stewart Milne Timber Systems, said: “We are looking forward to working to develop a new and exciting product to bring to market to add to our current portfolio of innovative and effective products. The market is growing and the increased interest in timber frame and off-site manufacture demonstrates the value that the industry increasingly places on new and cost effective ways to build.”

The CSIC was launched in October 2014 as “one-stop shop” for the construction industry to tap into academic expertise and public support. It is backed by the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and 12 Scottish university partners.

Head of business development Gillian Fleming said: “We are delighted to support this Stewart Milne Group project, which has the potential to deliver significant economic impact and help put Scotland firmly on the map in leading edge off-site construction.

“Our industry-led technical advisory group, which consists of leading figures from the construction sector and experts from our partner universities, have recommended four further projects for board approval that will commence soon. This, coupled with a healthy pipeline of over 40 diverse innovation project enquiries, suggests the construction industry in Scotland is ready to innovate and we predict exciting times ahead for our industry.”