The Scheme defines innovation as construction activities or initiatives that, if replicated, in one form or another across the UK, would give a real improvement to the overall performance or image of the industry.

The Scheme’s score descriptor for innovations reads:

DescriptorExplanation of score descriptorScore
InnovationThe supplier, beyond being exceptional, has introduced innovative practices or thinking that goes far beyond the expectations of the Scheme and, as such, is considered to be advancing the standards by which the image of the industry is judged.10

If a Monitor witnesses innovation, the supplier can achieve a score of 10, as long as all other areas within that section of the Code are of an exceptional standard (achieving a score of 9). An innovative activity will count only once towards a 10 score, unless it is further developed and enhanced, and this improvement is evident to the Monitor at a subsequent site visit.

Innovative activities are not necessarily unique and Monitors will use their own discretion about how many times they should reward suppliers for carrying out similar activities to those witnessed previously. Time scale would play a part in this as innovative activity could sensibly be highlighted on one supplier’s depot for a period of time but after that would then be considered as more commonplace, and thus no longer innovative.

Another key consideration which Monitors will take into account when assessing if an activity is innovative is the scale of the supplier. Small to medium sized companies are less likely to have access to the same resources as larger ones, and thus will be unable to implement initiatives of the same scale. Monitors therefore take into account the activities and original thinking registered suppliers implement with the resources which are available to them. For example, an innovative activity recorded at a small-scale supplier could be commonplace on large, multi-million pound organisations.

Also taken into account is the type of work, location and the context of the work. Making deliveries to projects which are situated in rural areas often face different challenges and constraints to those in urban locations. One of the main areas of focus for the Scheme is how suppliers respect the community, but if a project is located out of town, how does it engage with nearby communities? Using the same example, delivering to a project located within a city will be surrounded by a community but perhaps this causes issues with logistics – a problem the rural site may not have.

Each supplier will have its own set of challenges to overcome and resolving these challenges often leads to original thinking and innovation. Monitors will consider the supplier’s size, where it is located, the circumstances surrounding the deliveries and how the initiatives that supplier has put in place to improve the image of construction compares to other companies’ with similar challenges. It is these activities which go above and beyond the expected which will receive the recognition.

Click here to search for examples of innovation on the Scheme’s Best Practice Hub