Belfast to host major international conference on the fast changing world of digital construction

Digital Construction Live 2017

– Digital construction processes and technologies present significant growth and export potential for Northern Ireland companies –

Belfast is set to host Digital Construction Live 2017, a major international conference on the rapidly emerging world of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and new digital technologies in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry this Friday 17 November 2017 (8am – 4pm, Europa Hotel, Belfast). Jon Briggs, broadcast journalist and the original UK voice of Siri, will host the event.

The conference, which is organised by the NI BIM Regions Group*, aims to raise awareness of BIM and digital construction, and provide a collaborative platform for best practice to be shared. The event is free to attend thanks to the generous support of a number of key sponsors.

Digital Construction Live 2017

Leading BIM and digital construction expert, Melanie Dawson, Head of BIM at GRAHAM Construction, and founder member and Chair of NI BIM Regions Group, explains:

“The demand for Building Information Modelling (BIM) continues to grow across construction projects in the UK. I think this is partly as a result of the government mandate for BIM Level 2 in 2016 but also because public and private sector clients are increasingly understanding the potential value BIM can bring.

“BIM, digital construction, and indeed the wider industry 4.0 digital revolution in construction presents a very exciting new era for our industry. Progressive businesses have recognised and embraced the importance and potential of BIM processes and technologies in helping drive real business benefits and value.’’

Mrs Dawson continues: “The construction sector in the UK employs over two million people and contributes £100 billion in economic output. It is a key contributor to the UK economy. With the global construction market expected to grow 70% by 2025, digital transformation plays a key role in driving efficiencies and ensuring the ongoing competitiveness of the industry.”

Discussing what’s in store for delegates at Digital Construction Live 2017, Mrs Dawson adds:

“We believe that collaboration is fundamental to our industry’s future success. Digital Construction Live 2017 presents an excellent networking opportunity for all those who procure, design, build and maintain building or infrastructure assets.  There will be delegates from the UK, Ireland and wider Europe. Some have even registered from as far away as Australia, which means we will have a wide and varied range of participants on the day.

“We are delighted that nineteen top class local and international experts**, who are shaping the digital transformation of the industry, will be speaking at the conference. The event will be one of the best places to learn more about BIM and digital technologies. The use of drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), robotics, virtual and augmented reality, internet of things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, off site manufacturing and digital reality capture are all topics that will be discussed.”

Speaking in advance of the conference, event host Jon Briggs, broadcast journalist, international conference host and original UK voice of Siri, says:

“I’ve been a broadcast journalist for the last three decades or so and in that time I’ve watched the way in which every single industry has been affected by information technology and the use of electronics, or what the commentators would call the third industrial revolution. And now we are dashing headlong in to the fourth industrial revolution, the fusion of the biological, the physical and the digital.”

Mr Briggs adds: “Building Information Modelling (BIM) is just one of the ways that automated and converging technology are changing the way we create places from spaces. And if you’re not up to speed you’re going to get left behind. So I’m delighted to be hosting Digital Construction Live in Belfast this year. With keynote speakers discussing everything from robotics through to 3D laser scanners via augmented mixed and virtual realities to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), surveys. And with break out sessions and workshops galore covering all disciplines of the construction industry it will keep you well ahead of the game. And even better, it’s free to attend!”

Digital Construction Live will feature a major exhibition showcasing many of the emerging technologies that are being discussed at the event – from UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and 3D laser scanners to wearable technology in virtual reality and augmented reality.

There will also be a 12 metre long, cable-stayed bridge assembled at the event, where attendees can cross the bridge and get the sense of the water flowing beneath as the technology transports them to the virtual environment.

BelMCraft, a computer game based on the globally successful Minecraft platform, which allows players to create and explore a virtual city will also be on display. Developed by researchers from Ulster University, the game is closely aligned to aspects of the building information modelling (BIM) process.  

Platinum sponsors of Digital Construction Live 2017 include GRAHAM Construction, Invest Northern Ireland, ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers) and AUTODESK.

For further information or to book a free place at Digital Construction Live 2017 in Belfast on Friday 17 November log on to

Digital Construction Live 2017
Confident young woman adjusting her virtual reality headset and smiling while sitting at her working place in office

**Digital Construction Live 2017 – Speakers:

Conference speakers include

  1. Jon Briggs, Voice of Siri, conference moderator and voice and charisma coach
  2. Melanie Dawson, Head of BIM, GRAHAM Construction
  3. Stuart Maggs, Founder and CEO of Scaled Robotics; Fiona Moore, Level 2 Programme Co-ordinator, Digital Built Britain
  4. Dr Claire Penny, Global Industry Leader, Watson IOT for Buildings
  5. Richard Kirk, Regional Director, ICE
  6. Anne Kemp, Director at Atkins, BIM Strategy and Development
  7. John Kerrigan, Leica Geosystems Ireland Manager
  8. David Clark, Innovation Manager, The McAvoy Group
  9. Rudi Moore, Design Manager, Farrans Construction
  10. Edward Boxall, Regional Sales Manager UK and Ireland, Aconex
  11. Shervin Yousefzadeh, BIM Co-ordinator, GRAHAM Construction
  12. Damien Conroy, R&D Technical Lead, BSi
  13. Stephen Henderson, Marketing Manager, RPS Europe
  14. Simon White, Digital Director, Atkins
  15. Rob Clifton, Digital Engineering Manager, Asite; David Comiskey, Senior Lecturer, Ulster University
  16. Aimee McCabe, Structural Engineer, WDR & RT Taggart
  17. Myra Lydon, PhD Student, Queens University Belfast
  18. Fran Mullally, Training & Support Manager, Korec Group
  19. Jakub Urbanczyk, BIM VR Developer, GRAHAM Construction.

Speaker Biographies:


Voice of Siri, Conference Moderator and Voice and Charisma Coach

Known for his voice, he has become a household name for Sat Navs, radio and television appearances, starting with Siri in 2011 when he was chosen to be the male voice for the UK market. He has since starred in other Sat Nav devices such as TomTom, Garmin and Jaguar LandRover and Apps including Waze. His career extends beyond this, as he began his career as a radio presenter for BBC 1 and he has spent 7 years reporting on Euronews with an additional 4 years presenting Ford Business Television. Jon also coaches and trains presenters on how to use their voice with his 30 years of experience in speech radio.


Head of BIM

GRAHAM Construction

GRAHAM are the forefront of BIM & Digital Construction in the UK, actively embracing and delivering these processes and technologies across multiple complex and challenging projects. Melanie Dawson as Head of BIM at GRAHAM Construction brings a wealth of practical hands on knowledge from an extensive and varied construction career over the past 15+ years. She began to specialise in BIM in 2012 and established the NI BIM Regions group to raise awareness and provide a collaborative platform for best practice to be shared in this area. In GRAHAM, she led the team to be the first Tier 1 Contractor in Northern Ireland to be BSi BIM Level 2 Accredited in 2016. She developed the company policy and procedure to support BIM delivery from office to site. She established the GRAHAM BIM Academy which upskills clients, colleagues and supply chain on the use of BIM software, hardware and processes. Her passion for technology and new innovative ways of working has been the driving force behind a number of exciting R&D projects undertaken by GRAHAM in the realm of VR/AR and adoption of laser scanning technology.


Founder and CEO of Scaled Robotics

Known for his voice, he has become a household name for Sat Navs, radio and television appearances, starting with Siri in 2011 when he was chosen to be the male voice for the UK market. He has since starred in other Sat Nav devices such as TomTom, Garmin and Jaguar LandRover and Apps including Waze. His career extends beyond this, as he began his career as a radio presenter for BBC 1 and he has spent 7 years reporting on Euronews with an additional 4 years presenting Ford Business Television. Jon also coaches and trains presenters on how to use their voice with his 30 years of experience in speech radio.

Stuart has a background in Architecture and Design. His passion has led him into technology and construction and onward to become the founder and CEO of Scaled Robotics. His constructions are still using the same tools from a century ago, yet they are increasingly complex and intricate to manufacture. Whilst he designs digitally he still constructs manually. He is continually bridging the gap by aiming to digitise construction at Scaled Robotics through the use of BIM model. Stuart is certain that BIM has a vital role in the digitisation of construction and it has the capability to match digital design to real world digital construction tools. At Scaled Robotics the introduction of robots to the job site is the next crucial step to the digitisation of construction.


Level 2 Programme Co-ordinator

Digital Built Britain

Fiona is a member of the Digital Built Britain BIM Level 2 team, supporting Government Departments to embed BIM as business as usual, in line with the current 2016-20 Government Construction Strategy. As Lead Architectural Designer/Technical Assessor on the UK Government’s first BIM project at HMYOI Cookham Wood and then more widely across other Ministry of Justice projects, Fiona played a significant part in driving forward the adoption of BIM from 2011 onwards.

With a strong construction industry background resulting in a wide breadth knowledge and experience, Fiona helps many organisations, including clients, consultants, constructors and suppliers, with their business development; involving, but not limited to, an understanding of the relevance of BIM to their organisation, helping to develop appropriate pragmatic strategies, planning implementation, training staff and managing change, in order to help drive real business benefits and value.

Dr Claire Penny

Global Industry Leader – Watson IOT for Buildings

Claire is a member of the extended leadership team in the IBM Watson IoT business unit.  She has a record of successfully converting innovation projects into commercialized revenue-generating products, and, for driving results across matrixed global teams. She is renowned for her passion, getting things done, love of evangelizing and sharing IBM capabilities with internal and external audiences. She attained her PhD in 1998.

Claire is the Global Leader for Watson IOT for Buildings. Claire gets to combine all her passion, experience and learning from the past 17 years and focus it into IOT for Buildings and Retail, focusing on the operational phase of a building. This combination means that she can add value to customers, whilst working and collaborating with brilliant teams, to develop and deliver cognitive building solutions. In this role, Claire is also driving IBM’s thinking and vision to strategically shape IBM’s Buildings and Retail cognitive (IOT) solutions, which are helping clients to drive operational efficiencies, cost savings and even generate new revenue streams.

Richard Kirk

Regional Director, ICE

Richard is helping civil engineers explore how digital and emerging technology can transform infrastructure. As ICE Regional Director he is responsible for working with around 2,000 members in NI, enhancing their knowledge, celebrating their work and helping the public better understand infrastructure. He works with a wide range of industries, representative bodies, civil servants and politicians, to reinforce the importance of infrastructure to our quality of life.

Prior to his role with ICE, Richard was a senior engineer with the multinational consultancy AECOM, responsible for the delivery of capital infrastructure projects in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Richard is a Fellow of ICE and Chartered Manager and holds a Master of Business Administration.

Anne Kemp

Director at Atkins – BIM Strategy and Development

Anne has been working in the industry for 25 years, delivering information to where it is needed for informed and intelligent decision making. She is Director and Fellow at Atkins for BIM Strategy and Implementation. She has been with Atkins for 19 years, where she first introduced GIS to the business and has acted as advisor to a wide range of projects, ranging from contaminated land to large data management projects. Having served two years as Chair for AGI, Anne is now Vice Chair of Building Smart UK and Chair of ICE’s BIM Action Group and BIM4Infrastructure UK. She has been part of the UK Government BIM Task Group helping the departments to implement BIM, in particular, HA and EA, and has just graduated as prizewinner for her MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change at Henley Business School, where her research focused on enabling sustained collaborative working across the infrastructure industry.

John Kerrigan

Leica Geosystems Ireland Manager

John Kerrigan is Leica Geosystems Ireland Manager.  He is responsible for all Leica Geosystems equipment sales in Ireland. He works very closely with Leica Geosystems distribution partners in the North and South of Ireland and directly with customers.  He is a GeoSurveying graduate from DIT Bolton Street and has been in the survey business for over 16 years now, working as a land surveyor for Jacobs before moving into the sales, support and distribution of surveying solutions. John sits on the NI BIM Steering group and is a member of RICS, SCSI & ICES.

David Clark

Innovation Manager

The McAvoy Group

David Clark heads up the innovation team for The McAvoy Group, one of the UK’s leading offsite construction specialists.

As Innovation Manager, he is responsible for managing the move towards digital construction and offsite technologies. His vision is to embed innovation across the business to meet the needs of McAvoy’s diverse customer base.

In a fast-paced world of technological change, David has led McAvoy to achieve its goal of BIM Level 2 accreditation – the first offsite specialist to attain this certification. His aim is to achieve even greater levels of digital information, including data-rich 3D building models. This will ensure that McAvoy remains at the forefront of the ‘digital revolution’ in the offsite sector and the wider construction industry across the UK and Ireland.

He has 20 years of experience in construction and joined McAvoy in 2012. His design expertise is combined with a deep understanding of digital solutions, which can provide 3D data for both clients and the building manufacture and delivery processes.

David has a BSc in Manufacturing Management and is currently studying for an MSc in Construction Project Management and BIM at Queen’s University Belfast. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge of the fast-changing world of digital construction.

Rudi Moore

Design Manager

Farrans Construction

Farrans Lead in Digital Construction and BIM implementation. Rudi as design manger over the past 11 years has championed the integration of digital construction by delivering BIM on our live projects. He has transferred valuable experience into the organisations BIM protocols and operating procedures reflected with our systems being accredited to BIM Level 2 through BSI as a tier 1 lead contractor. Delivering digital construction into everyday ‘business as usual’ is something Rudi has implemented from tenders to live projects through to aftercare and has taken Farrans into our 2nd year of accreditation.

Edward Boxall

Regional Sales Manager UK and Ireland


Aconex is a global software as a service provider for the construction and engineering industries enabling teams to work digitally on some of the world’s largest projects. Ed is a regional manager at Aconex for the UK and Ireland offices. Over the last 21 years, he has worked for 3 major software companies specifically in these sectors developing a keen interest in Contract, BIM and Document management. Ed is not only working with construction firms providing their project teams with a CDE but has also began embarking on obtaining industry accreditations and training including the Building Research Establishment Part One and Part Two of their BIM fundamental courses led by Mervyn Richards and Paul Oakley (PAS/BS1192 authors).

Shervin Yousefzadeh

BIM Co-ordinator

GRAHAM Construction

Shervin is an integral part of the GRAHAM BIM Support team, he is responsible for the coordination and active implementation of the GRAHAM Construction BIM policy and procedure in the civils division of the business. He supports BIM delivery from office to site and has experience managing BIM on a range of both public and private sector projects including commercial, nuclear, highways, and bridges. The wider GRAHAM BIM Academy upskills clients, colleagues and supply chain on the use of BIM software, hardware and processes, as a senior member of the GRAHAM BIM Support team Shervin leads the Civils side of the BIM Academy roll out. He is passionate about innovative & cutting-edge technologies in the AEC industry and is currently working on various R&D projects within GRAHAM construction

Damien Conroy

R&D Technical Lead


Damien is R&D Technical Lead for Cybersecurity and Information Resilience at BSI. He holds BSc, MSc and PhD degrees from the department of Computer Science and Information Systems at the University of Limerick, a BSc in Mathematics and Postgraduate Diploma in Product Management from DIT and a diploma in Financial Management from the ACCA. He has more than 20 years’ experience in software development across the telecoms, finance and energy management sectors. He has worked in large multi-nationals including Motorola, Hutchison 3G (now 3) and Merrill Lynch. He has also worked in a number of organisations in the start-up phase, including Baltimore Technologies, Piercom, HedgeServ and ResourceKraft. Damien is a B9Lab Certified Ethereum Blockchain Developer.

Stephen Henderson

Marketing Manager

RPS Europe

Stephen Henderson is part of the RPS Digital Transformation team in Belfast driving the adoption of emerging and immersive technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) across the wider RPS Group.  Stephen has worked with RPS, formally Kirk McClure and Morton for over 20 years.

Stephen is educated in diverse fields from engineering, marketing and management. He has over 20 years’ experience within the Engineering Consultancy sector and holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Management and Economics with Post Graduate Diplomas in Marketing and Design for Visual Communication.

Stephen and the Digital Transformation team in Belfast utilise their combined expertise in engineering and business strategy to help identify and utilise the technology through collaborative cross-sector development programmes.

At RPS they are exploring applications of VR and AR in BIM, Health and Safety training, Asset management and many more fields where it is advantageous to visualise and understand a new environment before it is built or operated.

Simon White

Digital Director


Digital Director for Atkins Infrastructure UK and Project Director for Atkins Hinkley Point C structural design and detailing contracts. Specialising in leading major projects utilising digital design, virtual reality and automation to improve delivery for design communication and collaboration. MICE MAPM CEng Chartered Civil Engineer with 23 years experience in delivering major projects in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Internationally.

As the Divisional Digital Director for Infrastructure UK and have responsibility for Leading our 3000 person UK Infrastructure divisions approach to Digital Engineering.

I believe that our Digital Future will be defined by how we can seek out and support the digital tools, investment and ideas to drive our digital strategy and key client value propositions, working with our Technical and Domain Experts to drive innovation to our target clients & markets.

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