Contractors could soon be benefiting from the largest investment in science infrastructure for twenty years, according to a recent article in Construction News.

This news comes hot on the heels of the Treasury’s long term infrastructure investment plans released in June, as part of the Investing in Britain’s Future report. The plans included an increase in science funding to £1.1bn in 2015/16.

The publication spoke to Mark Halstead, the Science and Innovation head at Aecom. Last month Aecom was appointed project and cost manager to a £25 million research laboratory in Middlesex; it will be overseeing the project from the initial plans through to completion.

“[The] Last time we had this level of investment was the mid-1990s,” Mr Halstead said. “There was an infrastructure spending spree then, but this is the first major cash injection [into the sector] for 20 years.”

While private sector clients tend to use established networks, publicly funded science projects are more inclined to be openly tendered, meaning there is great potential for contractors working within the sector.  Mr Halstead emphasised the special criteria required for this kind of project.

Those well placed to work on research facilities include companies that have history in the health sector or prior experience of buildings with precise internal conditions, requiring a great deal of building services work.

Highly regarded companies in the field include Bam Construction, responsible for the £175m Laboratory of Molecular Biology last year, and Wilmott Dixon, which completed the £25m Department of Materials Science and & Metallurgy. Vinci is currently working upon the £54m Biological Life Sciences Building for the University of Bristol, due to be finished this year.

The trend is expected to spread, with research centres and facilities being constructed across the country. London is predicted to be the epicentre, due to the large number of major universities in the capital and the development of Google’s new headquarters at King’s Cross, but there will be significant projects in all the main university towns, particularly Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh.

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