What the surveyors have learned from Oxfordshire’s scientists in 2020

Bidwells Sherard Building

Richard Todd, Partner, Project Management at Bidwells reflects on a momentous year:

“We’ve all been grappling with complexity this year.

“No-one envies a government managing the economic impact of social restrictions and most business owners have faced complicated challenges in 2020 too.

Bidwells Richard Todd“Offices and projects have opened and closed, leaders and employees have juggled their home lives and childcare, and many firms are ending the year very different businesses to those that began it.

“But this year belongs to the scientists.

“The application of those pioneering the discovery and manufacture of treatments, Covid-19 testing devices and now a vaccine has seen complex challenges overcome.

“Our project management and surveying team has watched on with admiration as Oxfordshire’s science and technology sector has collaborated across sectors and geographies to fast track years of work into just months. It’s nothing short of heroic.

“The rapid construction of Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) at Harwell Campus will bring forward the opening 12 months ahead of schedule and allow the production of up to 70 million doses of a pandemic vaccine within 4-6 months.

“Playing our small part in solving this monumental global problem – we delivered the road extension that will speed up the process of fitting out the building – has been a privilege.

“This rapid adaptation in the Spring has delivered the world a route out of the current crisis but it’s this innovation that drives the entire Oxfordshire ecosystem.

“At The Oxford Science Park, we’ve helped OSI strip out the Sherard Building and refit the 30,000 sq ft space into a high quality office and laboratory, providing its burgeoning Oxford University spin-out businesses with the space to grow after leaving its city centre incubator space.

“The hope is that our work at Sherard and currently on other sites will can continue to support more companies like those now partnering with AstraZeneca to deliver the ‘Oxford Vaccine’ and innovative lifesaving research and treatment.

“This aspiration to do something truly pioneering has resonated with us this year.

“As a firm used to delivering complex building projects in sensitive environments for the University of Oxford and Colleges or flexible fast tracked laboratory facilities, we like to think we have pioneered a problem-solving project management approach.

“But we’ve learned so much this year by helping create labs for those people tackling Covid, cancer and a host of the world’s other major challenges close up.

“Rather than providing solutions on a task basis we’ve tried to understand our clients’ challenges on the macro level. Focussing on the problem, rather than just the plan, and bringing the right expertise to a problem, regardless of where it’s from.

“When the world changed in March, those companies already invested in projects, whether building or research-led, pivoted.

“It meant galvanising teams to focus on the problem in front of them. Because of our own pivot, and the loyalty and commitment of our teams and dedication from our Contractors, in Oxford alone, we’ve managed to successfully handover more than £50m of building projects on time during a pandemic.

“The construction industry has shown amazing resolve, agility and passion during this period. It has demonstrated the power of openness, team work, loyalty and trust which often get forgotten as the most fundamental building blocks of the industry.

“And played our own tiny part in solving the ultimate problem that has added so much complexity to all our lives.”