A £5.8 million flagship Centre for Constructing Excellence in the West Midlands is to get a massive cash boost from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.
It is aimed at promoting building technologies - an industry valued at £6 billion a year to the regional economy.
The project is being hosted by Wolverhampton University School of Engineering and the Built Environment, and will initially be based at the MACE management consultancy offices in Birmingham.
AWM announced the £3.6 million kick-start to the project at the recent Building Technologies WM Conference at Think Tank, Millennium Point.
Core objectives will be to deliver best practice ideas and specialist advice, particularly through collaborative working.
The building technologies business cluster, which directly employs more than 250,000 people in the region, will receive almost £5 million of funding over three years from AWM and the European Regional Development Fund.
The cluster, which is region wide, is at the core of the physical and social regeneration of the region with new hospitals, schools, housing and infrastructure creating major opportunities for jobs and improvements in quality of life.
Karen Yeomans, corporate director of development and economic inclusion at AWM, said: "Clusters are a force for change in the Agency's drive to build a world class region.
"The proposed centre will be a key driver for improving productivity, reducing costs and raising skills in the industry to develop a region which is an international leader in building technologies.
"Constructing Excellence techniques have been demonstrated to achieve ten per cent savings on capital build costs and, with an estimated £8 billion of investment in regeneration and capital building projects in the West Midlands before 2011, the potential cost savings add up to £800 million." Professor Paul Olomolaiye, Dean of the School of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Wolverhampton, said: "We are delighted to be given the chance to collaborate on this project and make meaningful change in the industry.
"We have an opportunity to diversify the economy from a reliance on manufacturing components for cars to manufacturing parts for houses - and we will be linking up with up to ten higher education establishments in the region to help develop the modern skills base needed to satisfy the industry's demands."
George Marsh, chairman of Chase Norton Construction and of the Building Technologies Cluster, said: "Around 1,020 industry representatives attended workshops on sustainability, best practice and off-site manufacturing. The feedback was incredibly positive."
The centre will be launched later this year.