Feb 19 2015

Building South East Asia – Opportunities for UK Construction

Singapore OfficeThe construction industry in South East Asia continues to be vibrant with growing economies and rapid development fuelling a considerably higher market growth than seen across a relatively stagnant UK and Europe.


UK Plc has been increasingly looking East over the past decade to sell skills and innovation in new and growing markets.  This has traditionally meant India and China but the construction sector is also looking beyond, to South East Asia.

Singapore, with its historical links to the UK as well as a familiar legal and planning framework is often seen as a jumping off point to the rest of the region for UK companies and expats alike.  However it is also one of the smaller markets in the region and increasingly UK organisations are looking to establish a presence in the less familiar but larger markets of Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia all of which have forecasted construction growth of over 4% (nearly 7% in the case of Vietnam) for 2015.


As the construction market in the region continues to grow and mature interest in ideas like collaborative construction and better information management on projects has developed with the aim of reducing risk.  Processes and technologies pioneered and tested in mature markets in Europe and the US are being adopted and adapted for the local markets to support this aim.

In Hong Kong for example usage of the NEC contract has seen massive growth over the last year as focus increases on delivering projects with a more collaborative approach.

As a content partner of the NEC, CONJECT have extensive experience of providing contract management support for projects using the NEC and its variations.  Leveraging similar niche expertise can be a good way for UK companies operating in construction to gain a foothold in new markets.

Tim ParsonsOur man in Singapore

Below is an interview with Tim Parsons who heads up our South East Asia team covering some of the opportunities and challenges the market holds both for CONJECT and other UK companies looking to move into the market. 

1. You have recently taken over as CONJECT’s Regional Business Development Manager for South East Asia. Your previous experience has been largely in finance, what attracted you to the construction industry?

Seeing something tangible develop and knowing you had a hand in it.  Having previously worked in finance the products are all just bits of paper or pixels on a computer screen, but seeing ideas come to fruition and teams working together is really rewarding.

Also the people have been a breath of fresh air – everyone who I’ve been interacting with seems to have a smile on their face and a passion for their job. They are proud of their work and the projects they are involved with whereas it’s pretty hard to find someone working in finance with that outlook!


2. South East Asia is a diverse and dynamic region, could you tell us more about the current state of the markets?

The region is so diverse so you can’t simply paint the whole area with one brush; we have new frontiers, some of the fastest growing construction industries worldwide but also some in decline.  BIM is rolling out across the area with a strong focus here in Singapore where private construction is waning but the government are spending a lot of money on rail, airports and healthcare for the future.

Thailand’s economy stalled with the coup last year, with a resultant impact on the construction sector but as the political environment has settled down confidence is coming back into the market, and we have seen increased activity in the region.

Myanmar is an exciting new frontier that’s really just opened up to the outside world, and we are speaking to parties in relation to our first project there. It will be great for CONJECT to be involved in the development that will come with the opening up of this market.


3. What challenge(s) is the Asian Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry likely to face in the next 12 months?

The global slowdown continues to affect the industry and we are seeing some private projects either being put on hold or delayed, but counteracting this are regional governments who are investing large amounts for the future, particularly in infrastructure with some exciting new airports and rail projects in the pipeline.  Also the evolution of a clear BIM roadmap for the industry to work towards is providing focus for the industry.

We have been speaking with the BCA (Building Construction Authority) in Singapore and we understand that they are dedicating significant resources into training on BIM and the associated software, particularly for contractors which we can see as being a great thing for all concerned and the adoption of BIM.


4. What is the most common problem/requirement that clients have that brings them to CONJECT?

The main issue that clients want to address is how best to manage their project data in a structured, secure environment which is where CONJECT solutions really come into their own with the document folder structure and the associated security and user access rights. This allows them to share their data, secure in the knowledge that each document or drawing will go to only the relevant users.

To find out more about CONJECT’s global operations contact us: 01483 712620 or 00 65 6733 1012

See how South East Asia is leading the way in Green Building

About the author

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason leads the UK and MEAP Marketing team, with far too many years in B2B marketing to mention. A CONJECT newbie, Michelle is eagerly climbing a steep learning curve.

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