As one of Ireland’s largest employers, and the key provider of essential social and economic infrastructure, the construction sector plays a significant role in the success of the Irish economy. However, recent studies have also shown that the construction sector suffers from low productivity. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is working with partners across government through structures such as the Construction Sector Group and the implementation mechanisms under Housing for All as well as directly with the sector through the business development and enterprise innovation programmes administered by Enterprise Ireland to help drive increased levels of innovation and productivity in the sector.
Modern Methods of Construction (MMC)
Modern Methods of Construction, or MMC, is a collective term used to describe a series of emerging construction sector innovations. Many of these innovations aim to promote offsite construction, or ‘prefabrication’. There are substantial benefits to offsite construction, including shorter building times, higher building quality, and lower costs.
Under the auspices of the Housing for All Industry Capability Working Group, the department has established an interdepartmental, and interagency, MMC Leadership and Integration Group that has two primary functions.
First, the group is responsible for overseeing the delivery of a holistic and integrated innovation offering for the construction sector, which covers research and development, training, procurement, and regulation. In this capacity, the group is promoting an integrated approach across various existing and emerging entities including:
Second, the group is responsible for developing policies to further support the construction innovation ecosystem in driving wider adoption of MMC and innovative products, processes, and systems in construction.
Further information on the group, including membership and meeting details, can be found on MMC Leadership and Integration Group.
Roadmap for increased adoption of MMC in public housing delivery
DETE along with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and working with the MMC Leadership and Integration Group has developed a Roadmap for increased adoption of MMC in public housing delivery. This Roadmap recognises that the government needs to lead by example in demanding the most advanced and efficient construction methods in the delivery of housing. In so doing it must also help to address the challenges that create barriers to entry for innovative solutions in housing delivery.
The recommendations identified in the Roadmap reflect the need for collective action across the construction ecosystem including public and private sector actors to create the conditions for MMC to thrive. A key measure to support the initiative is a programme of accelerated delivery being overseen by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, which will see over 1,500 new social homes commence construction during 2023 and 2024, utilising various MMC building systems. This agenda for action forms part of the continued work with the sector and with partners across government, the private sector, academia and others to continue to find ways to deliver homes more efficiently, more sustainably and with lower cost.
A simple introductory guide to MMC in housing is available here: Modern Methods of Construction Introductory Guide
Research, development and innovation
Productivity and innovation are also closely linked to research and innovation. The department has taken the following steps to promote construction sector research, development and innovation:
Construction Technology Centre
Construct Innovate, the National Construction Technology Centre, was launched in 2022. ConstructInnovate brings together 22 multidisciplinary research groups across 5 partner institutions, with over 300 researchers on topics related to construction and built environment.
Built to Innovate
Enterprise Ireland, through their Built to Innovate programme, delivers firm-level financial support for productivity enhancement and innovation in the domestic residential construction sector. Enterprise Ireland supports companies in the construction sector, including those who are involved in domestic residential construction, who wish to utilise Modern Methods of Construction, digital tools that can bring productivity benefits, and the implementation of lean training in both manufacturing and off-site environments.