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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K012347/1
Title: International Centre for Infrastructure Futures (ICIF)
Principal Investigator: Collins, Professor B
Other Investigators:
Medda, Dr F Taylor, Professor CA Tyler, Professor N
Jeffrey, Professor P Brady, Professor TM Richards, Professor DJ
Nightingale, Professor P Ramchurn, Professor SD Harou, Professor JJ
Fuentes, Professor R Godfrey, Professor P Larner, Professor W
Deakin Crick, Professor RE Dimitriou, Professor H Bahaj, Professor AS
Jennings, Professor N Yearworth, Professor M Pollard, Professor SJT
Edkins, Professor AJD Fujiyama, Dr T Varga, Professor LE
Jude, Dr SR Davies, Professor AC
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Atkins Balfour Beatty Plc Bristol Port Company
BT CH2M Hill (Halcrow) Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust
Gatwick Airport Ltd. Goangdong Provincial Academy of Env Sci Infrastructure Journal
Institution of Civil Engineers Internat Project Finance Assoc IPFA John Laing Plc
KPMG (UK) Ministry of Science and Technology MWH UK Ltd
Network Rail Secure Meters (UK) Ltd Skanska UK Plc
System Dynamics Society United Utilities Virgin
Wessex Water Ltd
Department: Civil Environmental and Geomatic Eng
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 30 June 2013 Ends: 30 April 2017 Value (£): 3,444,605
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complexity Science Education
Management & Business Studies Networks & Distributed Systems
Social Stats., Comp. & Methods Sustainable Energy Networks
Transport Ops & Management Urban & Land Management
Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction Environment
Energy Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
21 Jan 2013 EPSRC: Infrastructure Business Models Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Compared to many parts of the world, the UK has under-invested in its infrastructure in recent decades. It now faces many challenges in upgrading its infrastructure so that it is appropriate for the social, economic and environmental challenges it will face in the remainder of the 21st century. A key challenge involves taking into account the ways in which infrastructure systems in one sector increasingly rely on other infrastructure systems in other sectors in order to operate. These interdependencies mean failures in one system can cause follow-on failures in other systems. For example, failures in the water system might knock out electricity supplies, which disrupt communications, and therefore transportation, which prevent engineers getting to the original problem in the water infrastructure. These problems now generate major economic and social costs. Unfortunately they are difficult to manage because the UK infrastructure system has historically been built, and is currently operated and managed, around individual infrastructure sectors.

Because many privatised utilities have focused on operating infrastructure assets, they have limited experience in producing new ones or of understanding these interdependencies. Many of the old national R&D laboratories have been shut down and there is a lack of capability in the UK to procure and deliver the modern infrastructure the UK requires. On the one hand, this makes innovation risky. On the other hand, it creates significant commercial opportunities for firms that can improve their understanding of infrastructure interdependencies and speed up how they develop and test their new business models. This learning is difficult because infrastructure innovation is undertaken in complex networks of firms, rather than in an individual firm, and typically has to address a wide range of stakeholders, regulators, customers, users and suppliers. Currently, the UK lacks a shared learning environment where these different actors can come together and explore the strengths and weaknesses of different options. This makes innovation more difficult and costly, as firms are forced to 'learn by doing' and find it difficult to anticipate technical, economic, legal and societal constraints on their activity before they embark on costly development projects.

The Centre will create a shared, facilitated learning environment in which social scientists, engineers, industrialists, policy makers and other stakeholders can research and learn together to understand how better to exploit the technical and market opportunities that emerge from the increased interdependence of infrastructure systems. The Centre will focus on the development and implementation of innovative business models and aims to support UK firms wishing to exploit them in international markets. The Centre will undertake a wide range of research activities on infrastructure interdependencies with users, which will allow problems to be discovered and addressed earlier and at lower cost. Because infrastructure innovations alter the social distribution of risks and rewards, the public needs to be involved in decision making to ensure business models and forms of regulation are socially robust. As a consequence, the Centre has a major focus on using its research to catalyse a broader national debate about the future of the UK's infrastructure, and how it might contribute towards a more sustainable, economically vibrant, and fair society.

Beneficiaries from the Centre's activities include existing utility businesses, entrepreneurs wishing to enter the infrastructure sector, regulators, government and, perhaps most importantly, our communities who will benefit from more efficient and less vulnerable infrastructure based services.

Key Findings
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