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Innovation bootcamps for B.C. contractors set to roll out

Peter Caulfield
Innovation bootcamps for B.C. contractors set to roll out

In late November 2016, two of British Columbia’s local construction associations will host sessions called Construction Innovation Bootcamp, they are the first of their kind to be offered in Canada, according to organizers.

These leadership training programs explore how companies can use different kinds of innovations in construction to boost their performance, efficiency and reputation.

"Participants will learn how to turn good ideas into invoices," said program lead Helen Goodland.

"There has been unprecedented change in the construction industry and companies need to learn how to do things differently in the future, to be more productive and to do more with less."

The rate of productivity in construction in Canada has flat-lined, Goodland says.

"Other jurisdictions in the world have had to learn how to turn their construction industries around and make them more productive," she said. "We can do the same thing here."

The first bootcamp will take place at the Northern Regional Construction Association in Prince George on Nov. 22 and 23.

The second educational seminar will take place at the Vancouver Regional Construction Association on Nov. 24 and 25.

At each association there will be a follow-up session in early 2017.

The Vancouver Island Construction Association (Feb. 16-17, 2017) and the Southern Interior Construction Association (Feb. 21-22, 2017) will put on a condensed, two-day version of the innovation bootcamp.

"Each bootcamp is a rapid immersion for owners and managers into construction innovation in a format they can apply directly to their business," said Goodland.  "The sessions combine expert presentations, mentorship and the latest research on innovation."

Participants will be exposed to two key innovation areas in construction: technology (drones and modular construction) and business improvement (marketing and branding).

Goodland says bootcamp participants will learn what some of their peers in the construction industry have been doing to advance innovation.

"They will also find out how they can get financial support for improving their company’s productivity, developing new ideas and implementing new technologies," said Goodland.

At the end of each bootcamp, the participants will develop an innovation plan for their company that is based on the challenges they are facing.

The plan will include tips for how to apply a new technology, how to tap into B.C.’s research and development investment and support networks and how to enter a new market.

In addition to education, the bootcamps have a research component.

"We’re using two different meeting formats with the four local construction associations to find the best way to deliver the bootcamps," said Goodland.

Each of the bootcamps will feature between 10 and 12 speakers.

Simon Amesbury, senior business development manager of Britco LP, will lead a plant tour of the company’s Agassiz, B.C. plant.

"The tours of our modular construction facilities enable us to demonstrate why modular is the best building solution." said Amesbury. "We walk our guests through the manufacturing process enabling them to see modules in various stages of being constructed, including floors, walls, ceilings and finishes."

Victoria-based brand consultant Marc Stoiber will discuss how construction companies can position themselves in the market and make themselves stand out from their competitors.

Stoiber says he will show how companies can "future-proof" themselves. "The cycle of companies rising and falling is accelerating because of digital technology," he said. "Companies need to learn how to create a niche for themselves in the market. If they don’t, they become a commodity. They’ll be forced to compete on price, and they’ll be caught in a race to the bottom."

Jennifer Sanguinetti, the University of BC’s director of project services, will discuss what a client that is committed to innovation is looking for in a construction project, and how to give it to them.

"UBC expects its contractor partners, as a matter of course, to bring innovativeness, in some form, to the projects they do at the university," she said. "We’re looking for partners who can figure out in advance what a project is about before they bid on it."

Richard Shipway, a project director at Ledcor Construction Ltd in Vancouver, says he will be attending the Vancouver bootcamp as an "interested participant."

"The construction market in Canada is becoming increasingly competitive," he said. "There are lots of good ideas here about how to be more innovative. We just need to promote them more and let more people in construction learn about them."

The cost of attending the bootcamps is between $400 and $700 per participant, depending on the venue.

Funding for the bootcamps comes from a grant from the Homeowner Protection Office that was applied for through the BC Construction Association.

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