Construction technology innovation hub, portal launched

30th November 2022 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

Construction technology innovation hub, portal launched

EPF CEO Joanna Govender

Public benefit organisation the National Construction Incubator (NCI), in collaboration with nonprofit organisation and technology hub the Empire Partner Foundation (EPF), has launched the first construction technology innovation hub in South Africa.

The hub, which was launched on November 30, in Sandton, was forged with the goal of transforming the future of the construction sector in South Africa.

The partnership is focused primarily on supporting entrepreneurship development and innovation within the construction sector through the support, development and mentoring of emerging construction companies in the country.

The new construction technology innovation hub is aimed at providing all stakeholders, industry leaders, and small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) in the construction sector with a platform to engage in a joint effort to transform the South African construction landscape.

“The EPF has a long history of initiating, fostering and promoting the work of partnerships in advancing sustainable development. The NCI and the EPF have collectively embarked on this journey to create a sustainable future with people at the centre, prosperity for all, with a peaceful and inclusive society,” EPF CEO Joanna Govender said at the launch.

According to the tenth edition of the Annual ConTech Report by market research firm JBKnowledge, about 60% of construction companies lack dedicated budgets for adopting new technologies, which illustrates relatively slow technological advancement within the sector.

“The urgent need for innovation and technology adoption in the construction industry has never been greater, as financial and strategic investors continue to support the industry’s explosive growth. The recent Covid-19 pandemic served only to increase visibility of the construction industry’s long-standing concerns around productivity, data visualisation and delays,” Govender said.

She added that, while the demand for construction had increased without productivity following suit, opportunities remained where technologies relevant to construction could be applied to address this shortfall and improve the overall performance of the industry.

“We are confident that our technology advancements have started to pave the way for a digital transformation in the construction industry, creating opportunities for innovation, augmentation and a plethora of new tech advancements, ensuring success in the industry,” Govender said.

The establishment of the construction technology hub is, therefore, geared towards helping to speed up the advancement and use of innovative technology within the construction industry.

"Our partnership with EPF has enabled the incubator to improve technology and implement digital working methods. As we move towards the digital era, we decided to partner with the EPF to develop a Web portal that will reinvent the construction industry by making it easier and more transparent for stakeholders to manage incubatees in various programmes,” NCI CEO Patt Chalwa said.

She noted that a key objective of the new Web portal – which was also launched at the event – was to make it possible for clients, investors and funders to access reports easily.

However, SMMEs would also benefit from it in a variety of ways.

The Web portal will assist in the development of emerging contractors by infusing their businesses with both technical and administrative skills, enabling them to grow more swiftly and foster better networks and exposure to opportunities.

“We can transform the future of entrepreneurs and tackle the high unemployment rate in the country through collaborative efforts such as this one. We applaud the efforts of the NCI and the EPF to facilitate digital transformation in the construction sector by providing such digital tools to entrepreneurs,” Small Enterprise Development Agency technology programme executive manager Colin Leshou said.

The portal is aimed at making the process of managing incubatees more efficient and transparent for stakeholders.

“Our partnership with EPF has enabled the incubator to improve manufacturing technology and implement digital working methods. As we move towards the digital era, we attempt to improve environmental and socioeconomic difficulties through technology," Chalwa said.