European Commission
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Digitalisation of Construction SMEs
Supporting the digitalisation of construction SMEs

Taking stock eight months after the launch of this website, we see an uptake in the support tools provided, but a long way ahead for the digitalisation of the construction sector. 

Aware of the need and opportunities in digitalising the European construction sector, the European Commission had contracted a project consortium consisting of Ecorys, TNO, IMP³ROVE and EMG Group to provide support to EU construction SMEs in their path towards digitalisation. This project built on the recommendations emerging from a preceding study assessing the problem that construction SMEs are often missing out on opportunities of digitalisation due to a lack of relevant understanding and internal capabilities.  

Particularly, the following issues were outlined: 

  • Lack of knowledge and/or awareness with regards to digital tools;  

  • Uncertainties over the use of BIM, and its interaction with other technologies;  

  • Lack of technologically savvy personnel;  

  • Lack of capital to invest and lack of financial support, as well as lack of awareness with regards to supporting initiatives and programmes focusing on digitalising SMEs;  

  • Legal concerns on data and security;  

  • Uncertainties on the correct business model to implement. 

The general objective of this project was to provide the sector with tools to increase the level of digital maturity of construction SMEs. These included the collection of digitalisation case studies, the development of a digital maturity scan, the design of a handbook outlining digitalisation steps, and the creation and implementation of a training programme. As a means of spreading these tools, this website was developed as a central hosting and communication platform and combined with tailored communication activities.  

Through the provision of these outputs, the project improved the knowledge absorption by the sector and positively impacted the digital maturity of construction SMEs. In particular, the following results were achieved in the past seven months: 

  • Over 5500 unique visitors to this website; 

  • About 30 training sessions on topics such as digital processes, cultural barriers, digital transformation strategy and digital technologies with SMEs and intermediaries conducted; 

  • Over 280 training beneficiaries with an average feedback score of 4.6/5 and a 93% recommendation rate; 

  • Over 400 downloads of the handbook, which is translated into all EU languages and Turkish; 

  • Over 50 case studies of construction companies collected and uploaded to the website; 

  • Over 200 users of the digital maturity scan. 

While this is only a small number compared to the total number of construction SMEs in the EU, project outputs such as the handbook, case studies and scan will remain available. Thanks to the translation of outputs into all EU languages and the active targeting of intermediary organisations, such as cluster organisations, digital innovation hubs and associations, the ambition is that these tools will find further fertile ground and can be spread widely among construction SMEs.