A European Digital Platform in support of the evolution of the construction industry

The European Commission has recently launched several initiatives as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy to enhance productivity and performance, increase profitability and pave the way for innovation in key industrial areas. These initiatives included the creation of community-led digital platforms for connected smart factories, smart agriculture and digital transformation of health & care sector. Now it’s time for construction industry.

European digital platforms are operating systems that integrate different technologies and various applications and services. The European digital platform for construction is intended to serve the purpose of facing the main challenges related to the uptake of digital tools in support of the digital evolution of the sector. It is indeed widely recognised that digital processes such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be provided added value when applied along the complete value chain, during planning, design and engineering, construction and operational phase. Overall, digitisation of the construction sector is expected to significantly reduce the total building life-cycle cost and construction time. Yet, the industry has been slow in adopting digital technologies, in changing the working environment of its employees and processes.

On 30 November 2017, the European DIGITAL SME Alliance was invited to discuss with the European Commission and other key stakeholders about the opportunity of setting up a European digital platform in support of the digital evolution of the construction industry. Mr George Brashnarov, vice president of the European DIGITAL SME Alliance, welcomed the initiative highlighting the need for a European digital platform for construction that should aim at promoting open approaches, independent players and enable data exchange among key market players, with particular reference to SMEs. As a matter of fact, digital SMEs are ready to offer innovative solutions and services for new niche markets created by the dawn of technology in the construction sector, therefore complementing existing activities within the entire value chain.

Mr Brashnarov recognised how fragmentation of the sector and standardisation challenges are partially responsible for the construction industry lagging behind in the digitalisation trend. He stressed that the adoption of open standards in the BIM ecosystem has the potential to reduce barriers for SMEs operating in the construction, which represent over 98% of all businesses in this sector. He explained how open standards provide common interoperability that allows all the parties involved (users, customers, organisations and governments) to communicate and work freely across borders. At the same time, open standards create the opportunity to integrate solutions at lowest cost, which is crucial for SMEs, providing local innovation and niche high value services to their customers.

The European Commission concluded the event sharing the vision of a European digital platform for construction that should the various initiatives initiated at national level. In this sense, the role of CEN Technical Committee 442 on BIM was considered fundamental to put together national efforts to define standards contributing to the creation of a common framework for the digitisation of the construction sector. Small Business Standards (SBS) has started contributing to the activities of CEN TC 442 in 2015. As of 2018, George Brashnarov and Eugenio Quintieri (Secretary General of the European Builders Confederation) will strengthen SBS presence in this strategic group.


If you need more information on the topic, please contact Guido Sabatini: g.sabatini@digitalsme.eu