THE North-East is set to become a centre of excellence for a building process the Government intends all public sector construction projects will use.

The claim was made ahead of today's launch of the BIM Academy, a joint venture between North-East based Ryder Architecture and Northumbria University.

BIM, which stands for Building Information Modelling, aims to cut costs and waste in the construction process by perfectly computer simulating a project before it is built.

The Government has said it aims to use BIM on all its construction projects within five years

The academy's operations director Peter Barker, who is also the architectural director at Newcastle headquartered Ryder, believed the North-East construction sector would benefit from having Britain's first academy of its type, combining industry and academia, in the region.

He said: "The North-East should become a centre of excellence and it will be a boost for the North-East at a time the construction sector is pretty flat.

"It is the first academy of its type in the UK and builds on a lot of expertise in this area that has been growing in the region over the last five years."

Mr Barker pointed to work in the field carried out by both Teesside and Northumbria universities, building firm Laing O'Rourke being proactive introducing it in the Northern region and a number of BIM initiatives amongst the North-East's fast growing IT and digital sector.

He added: "It brings these things together. BIM is driving efficiency and removing waste as we do everything virtually and test it before construction.

"The Government's construction strategy that came out on May 31, part of that was saving 20 per cent on all government projects by the end of the next Parliament and BIM is one of the drivers."

As well as undertaking research and development the academy will provide consultancy services.

It will be used by all aspects of the building sector from architects and designers, through to construction firms and students entering the industry.

Professor of Building Modelling at Northumbria University, Steve Lockley, who becomes the academy's research director, said: "There are many in the industry who still do not appreciate the advantages of integrated project delivery and the potential of BIM in achieving it.

"There are also those who are keen to adopt but require support and encouragement in doing so. BIM Academy will promote awareness and deliver support in the key areas of research, development, education and consultancy."

Mark Thompson, Managing Director of Ryder Architecture, added: "Ryder invested in the development of BIM six years ago because the practice foresaw the efficiencies and improvements it can bring to design quality and project delivery.

"We believe it is vital to share this experience with industry peers to achieve the transformation the industry needs to survive the current economic climate and thrive in the future.

"Combining our practical experience with the University's research and technology capabilities will allow us to help the industry achieve the full potential of BIM."