AGC Seeks to Spur Innovation in Construction with Innovation Awards

The group is challenging its members to solve some of the toughest issues facing the industry today.

The construction industry is facing the biggest labor shortfall in more than a decade, and productivity has remained flat for decades while other fields such as manufacturing have seen massive gains, according to research from consulting firm McKinsey & Co. The lag is seen as threatening the competitiveness of all construction.

Against this backdrop, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) hopes to spur innovation as it celebrates its 2018 centennial by introducing the Innovation Awards.

AGC represents more than 26,000 contracting firms. With the awards, and a top prize of $10,000, it aims to encourage its members to pioneer solutions to the problems that threaten the industry’s future — solutions that are “realistically adaptable to the industry.”

“We are celebrating the last 100 years, but what we really wanted to do as part of the centennial is look forward to the next 100 years,” said Sarah Gallegos, director of the building division at AGC.

Areas ripe for innovation as outlined by AGC are the workforce shortage and lack of diversity, technology, jobsite safety, sustainability and project complexity. But categories and judging criteria were left open-ended to encourage unconventional ideas.

“We really purposefully left it wide open to allow free thinkers to come forward and share any idea that’s out there,” said Gallegos. Winners will be announced at the AGC Centennial Celebration in New Orleans, Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, 2018.

The idea for the award came from a group of emerging leaders on the AGC’s Construction Leadership Council. Gallegos said the AGC hopes the award will help identify not only the ideas but also the people that will lead the construction industry forward.

Winning entries will be selected based on criteria including originality and social or economic impact. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000, with second place receiving $5,000 and $2,500 going to the third-place submission. All finalists will receive two complimentary Centennial Celebration registrations, with hotel and travel stipends. Finalists can also add a winner’s logo to company or chapter websites.

All AGC members in good standing and students currently enrolled in an ABET- or ACCE-accredited program are invited to apply. The deadline is Oct. 30.