Industrialized Building Firms Modularity and Open Innovation

What is the goal?

This research project aims to examine firm strategies leveraging digitally-enabled product platforms for industrialized building.

The specific objectives of the project are as follows:

1. To examine the roles of core technological innovation and complementary assets, and their relationship to enable industrialized building through product platforms.
2. To articulate strategies for managing modularity across and within firm boundaries for product platform development.
3. To characterize open innovation strategies to leverage external resources for product platform development.

The benefits to industry of this project will be manifold. Thanks to rigorous research our findings will:

  • • Offer insights into the contextualized needs for digital kit of parts and product platforms, thanks to the input of industry partners.
  • • Allow R&D managers to explore a range of different practices to leverage external resources for product platform development.
  • • Reinforce learning by situating firms’ strategies in relation to cases collected from other leading organisations in industrialized building markets.
  • • Provide insights gained from other world leading experts to better position your strategy in the international construction markets.

What are we working on?

We have finalized phase one of the project, and we are now working objective 2.

What have we done to date?

Work on objective 1 has led to a number of impactful achievements and has resulted in a number of papers delivered at academic conferences:

  • Zhang R, Zhou A.S.J., Tahmasebi S. & Whyte, J. (2019) Long-standing themes and new developments in offsite construction: the case of UK housing. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Civil Engineering, Vol. 172, Pages: 29-35.
  • Zhou, A.S.J, Chen, L, Whyte, J., (2019) Information Exchange in Platform Approaches to Design for Manufacture and Assembly. 36th International Conference of CIB W78 ICT in Design, Construction and Management in Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operations (AECO).
  • Zhou, A.S.J., Mosca, L., Whyte, J. (2020) Modularization and inter-firm coordination in construction. 27th Innovation and Product Development Management Conference - IPDMC 2020.
  • Zhou, A.S.J. (2020) The development of platforms for system innovation by modularization and vertical integration of production systems. DRUID Academy Conference 2020.

How to engage with us?

For more information on the project, or to get involved contact Alexander Shanjing Zhou,

Funding information

This PhD research is co-funded by Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College, and the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers Young Engineers, Arthur & Louise May Memorial Scholarship. The project is now jointly carried out with ETH Zurich Chair of Industrial and Innovative Construction.