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A new partnership between Project 13 and the World Economic Forum

30 March 2020

Project 13 has formed an exciting new partnership with the World Economic Forum. What does this mean for the future of the initiative?

A new partnership between Project 13 and the World Economic Forum
A flagship initiative for the World Economic Forum

Following constructive engagement across 2019 and the recent World Economic Forum Industry Strategy Annual Meeting, Project 13 has been selected as a flagship initiative supported by World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Cities, Infrastructure and Urban Services.

This new partnership represents a significant and welcome step for Project 13. It demonstrates that the principles first set out by the Infrastructure Client Group resonate with the global infrastructure community, providing further impetus for their adoption.

The partnership also provides us with the opportunity to significantly extend the active participants of the Project 13 network, increasing the potential sources of learning that will flow from Adopters to the wider community of practitioners.

The World Economic Forum’s Platform on Cities, Infrastructure and Urban Services is focused on the transition to net zero carbon, resilience, and wellbeing, which aligns well with the objectives of Project 13, in particular the need to focus on outcomes for end users. The Platform, a focal point for discussion, starts with the premise that there are big challenges when it comes to urbanisation and the future delivery of infrastructure. While nobody has all of the answers yet, there is a lot of thinking going on around the world.

The Platform aims to coordinate this thinking to ensure that when tangible action and policy measures are ready to be made, that can be done in a coordinated and collaborative way across the public and private sector right across the globe. The Platform shares the same ethos as Project 13, that by looking at case studies from around the world and sharing best practice, the infrastructure ecosystem will be in a better place to advocate and provide guidance on the changes that need to be made to deliver impact at scale.

As part of the partnership, I was invited to participate in the World Economic Forum Industry Strategy Meeting on 25 - 26 March, along with Mark Enzer, Project 13 Digital Transformation Lead. The discussion focused on the barriers to industry transformation and innovative strategies that can be employed to overcome the unprecedented challenges faced by the infrastructure and urban development industries in these challenging times.

Katherine Davisson, Head of the World Economic Forum’s Platform on Shaping the Future of Cities, Infrastructure and Urban Services, said of the partnership: “We are delighted to partner with Project 13, given its pioneering work and thought leadership in advancing Enterprise delivery models and collaborative principles for infrastructure projects. We share Project 13’s aim of improving outcomes surrounding the delivery of sustainable and resilient infrastructure and look forward to supporting Project 13 in its next phase of development.”

Recap: What is Project 13?

Project 13 aims to shift the delivery of infrastructure to focus more clearly on outcomes for society. Achieving this shift in thinking will also help to boost productivity and certainty in delivery and to support a more sustainable, innovative, highly skilled construction industry. The key shift required as part of Project 13 thinking, is the adoption of Enterprise delivery models for infrastructure programmes and projects; moving away from transactional, cost-driven procurement to the creation of value-driven, collaborative enterprises.

From the initial research phase onwards, when exemplar projects provided our initial evidence base, Project 13 has demonstrated that enterprise models deliver significantly better performance. This study of industry best practice gave us the Framework for moving towards enterprise delivery, including:

  • Five capability pillars (Capable Owner, Enterprise Governance, Organisation, Integration and Digital Transformation),
  • The associated Project 13 Principles and
  • A maturity matrix that recognises that for participating organisations this is a journey not an overnight shift.

This provides organisations with a clear framework, while recognising that application will vary in line with required project outcomes, the organisations involved and their relative maturity.

As well as aligning with the World Economic Forum focus on resilience, Project 13 also aligns with other current industry drivers, including the need to improve sustainability in infrastructure delivery. Some of the exemplar Project 13 projects, such as Anglian Water’s @one alliance, have demonstrated how stretching sustainability targets can be delivered alongside productivity and efficiency; the @one alliance reduced capital carbon by over 50% across the investment programme.

The Project 13 focus on outcomes also enables the opportunity presented by digital transformation, probably the single biggest opportunity for our industry in generations. Engaging with partners and the wider ecosystem to deliver outcomes, rather than to just deliver a specified engineering scope, opens up the opportunity for intelligent solutions and highly optimised infrastructure systems.

As Project 13 has developed, a number of infrastructure owners have become Early Adopters. This currently includes Heathrow, Sellafield Ltd, the Environment Agency, Anglian Water, Sydney Water, Network Rail and the National Grid.

Other owners, including Highways England and Yorkshire Water are now looking to embed the Project 13 principles into programmes of work, including the Smart Motorways Programme.

A focus on outcomes

In all cases, these owners have placed a greater emphasis on delivering better outcomes for their customers. Having clearly articulated those outcomes, they have then set out to select and integrate partners with the right technical and behavioural capability and deliver through high-performing integrated teams.

As an example, Heathrow is aiming to integrate the wider ecosystem of delivery partners, including specialist suppliers who can add greater value through earlier involvement in the development process. The use of regional logistics Hubs will extend this involvement and support modern methods of construction. These sites are key to kickstarting the nationwide benefits that a Heathrow expansion will bring – creating jobs and economic opportunities up and down the country, years before the additional trade and tourism that will follow from unlocked runway capacity.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO Heathrow, presented at the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Annual Meeting in Davos, in a session with industry executives and government officials, and highlighted the collaboration benefits of being Project 13 Early Adopters.

As Project 13 principles have been adopted by various organisations, the learning process has extended, and it has progressed from an initiative to a movement. The task now, is to continue this collective learning and knowledge sharing process, ensuring existing and future Project 13 network members are supported with current understanding and knowledge as they go on their enterprise journey. The partnership with the World Economic Forum is a significant enabler in this overall aim.

  • Dale Evans, chair of project 13 management board at Project 13