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Industry group seeks to accelerate construction innovation

VRCA brings builders and innovators together on Construction Research Network
SEAN GLADWELL/Moment/Getty Images

The Vancouver Regional Construction Association has launched an initiative to connect the best ideas in construction with the best ideas in technological innovation.

The Construction Research Network (CRN) is a digital inventory of researchers, projects and facilities that are available to link up with architecture, design and construction.

Many people in B.C. construction are unaware there are R&D facilities across the province that can help them move their ideas forward.

Aimed at closing the gap “between insight and job site” to ensure B.C.’s construction industry stays competitive and up-to-date, the project is being developed by Scius Advisory Services, a Vancouver consulting firm.

“Visitors to the site will find an online community of individuals, facilities and projects that are involved in conducting R&D connected to a wide range of construction-related initiatives,” said Scius managing director Mark Devereux, who is in charge of the initiative.

Devereux said that although CRN is new – it went live at the end of March – interested members of the construction industry will already find a wide variety of R&D sources on the site,

“Primarily these are based in B.C., but we have a scattering of others from across the country, where we felt those researchers were doing work which would be applicable to B.C. industry,” he said.

The researchers and facilities that are listed on CRN cover a wide and growing range of subjects, such as wood machining, process optimization, information technology for collaboration and project management, building envelopes and structures, and applications of integrated product design and lean construction.

“The site is simple to access,” said Devereux. “Just go to and either browse the categories or put whatever you’re interested in into the search box. Once you’ve found what interests you, there will be contact information available for you to connect with the relevant researcher or facility.”

Researchers who are performing work connected with construction and who want to sign up and have a profile on the site should send an email to [email protected].

“We will help them get set up,” said Devereux. “Ideally, we would like information which identifies the researcher and showcases what they’ve done and what they’re working on. There is no cost to be listed.”

Relevant profile information includes name, website URL, email address and phone number.

“To provide visitors a full view of their activities, researchers should also include information about projects they are or were associated with and the facilities in which they work,” Devereux said.

Funding for CRN came from the Real Estate Foundation of BC and Forestry Innovation Investment.

One of the R&D experts listed on CRN is Thomas Froese, professor and chair of civil engineering at the University of Victoria.

Froese says his research is focused on developing a new generation of IT for collaboration and project management in the architecture, design and construction industries.

He has developed ways to formalize the management of information systems at the project level. Froese has also led efforts to produce integrated computer software for construction management, and establish international data standards for the construction industry.

Helen Goodland, Scius’s head of research and innovation, said the idea for CRN came from her firm.

“It’s based on a key finding of a 2016 study commissioned by the BC Construction Association, which found that construction lagged other industries in its adoption and use of innovation,” said Goodland, who led the study.

The report identified three ways to make B.C. a leader in construction innovation, including launch an innovation council; develop a plan to guide conversations with government, academia and industry; and focus on project procurement, the means by which construction services and materials are secured.

To read the 2016 report, go to