Professor Brian Collins
University College London
June 2013 to December 2016
AIM: ICIF is one of two new Centres set up as part of the National Infrastructure Plan, published by the Government in 2011, with funding from the EPSRC and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The Centres’ role is to catalyse and inform the national debate about the future of the UK’s infrastructure.
The UK 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 with significant financial and social implications. 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.
ICIF is creating a 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 focuses 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 of the research will include existing utility businesses, entrepreneurs wishing to enter the infrastructure sector, regulators, government and communities who will benefit from more efficient and less vulnerable infrastructure based services.