The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, welcomed the launch in Doha last month of an international UK and Middle East-based think tank by infrastructure project delivery firm British Consulting (BC).
The brainchild of two of BC’s directors, Ian Kennedy and Anthony Holmes, the Institute for Infrastructure Studies aims amid the current infrastructure boom to become the ‘global centre of excellence in understanding the financing, risk appraisal and management of large complex infrastructure projects’ and will be supported at the launch by the Qatari Financial Centre and the British Ambassador in Qatar.
Senior officials from the Qatar, London and wider Gulf financial community and key players in Gulf government circles have expressed considerable interest in supporting the non-profit Institute in its initial five-year plan to provide original thinking and research into the appraisal and better management of risks associated with large, complex infrastructure programmes.
The Mayor of London said: “The birth of the Institute for Infrastructure Studies is a great example of how London and Doha can work together towards common goals by sharing vital knowledge and industry expertise. Any organisation that can provide the insight and the know-how to reduce costs and help speed up the delivery of landmark projects has to be warmly welcomed. So, I’m delighted to wish everyone at British Consulting the best of luck as they get this fantastic new initiative underway.”
Boris Johnson welcomed the launch of the Institute in Doha as part of his visit to the region to strengthen business and cultural ties between the UK’s capital city and key markets in the Middle East.
Ian Kennedy, co-founder and director of the Institute, said: “This Institute will tackle public and freight transportation systems, ports, social infrastructure and stadia and we look forward to working with and for governments, financial and investment institutions and sponsors of large complex projects to find practical solutions to the funding and management of this increasingly desirable asset class. Until now, there has been no independent organisation focused exclusively on researching the problems of infrastructure project delivery, risk appraisal and funding in order to develop new practical methodologies.
Ian went on to say: “Governments world-wide have seized the idea that investment in infrastructure is the single most effective policy option available to them to stimulate their economies, yet the forecast global expenditure of $50-70 trillion over the next 17 years may suffer from huge constraints in the availability of finance as investors become more risk averse in the face of costly project delays that impede achievement of the very social objectives they set out to facilitate.”
The Institute will provide original research, commissioned studies, conference and workshop events and a data centre/library that will act as the global point of reference. The centre’s database of project information will provide investors, lenders and insurers with a new, consistent risk evaluation methodology. It will monitor and publish reports on emerging trends in finance, programme management and project performance.
Kennedy continued: “Financial restrictions and an elevated risk to project completion is not an attractive combination and conventional thinking about infrastructure development has failed to provide solutions to these problems. Governments, public sponsors and private investors need an independent and authoritative source of knowledge and expertise to evaluate complex projects. The institute will serve academics and practitioners involved in the fields of infrastructure financing, development and delivery.”