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NCE100 Companies of the Year 2018 revealed

Nce100 arcadis

The winners of the NCE100 Companies of the Year 2018 were revealed on 23 May at a glamorous awards ceremony at the Troxy, London.

 The winners celebrated with 650 guests from of the UK’s leading civil engineering firms and peers from across the industry’s top companies.

The NCE100 showcases truly outstanding civil engineering practices, consultants and contractors, big and small. We were looking for the companies who, in 2018, have got the most inspiring stories to tell. Stories of innovation, of changing our industry for the better, and of making the world a better place through their projects.

There were in fact 500 stories submitted as part of the NCE100 process this year.

How it worked was like this. Every firm in the NCE100 was given the chance to offer up five great stories. One had to be how they were innovating at some part of the project cycle; there were five categories there. One had to be where they were making an impact in changing our industry for the better; again, five categories. And one had to be how they are inspiring by delivering projects that change people’s lives; and again, five categories. They were also given two wild card entries.


  1. Arcadis – Smart Operator champion; highly commended for diversity leadership; top 8 for innovation in project management and excellence in climate resilience
  2. Arup – Top 8 for innovation in project initiation, innovation in design, diversity leadership, and excellence in water; and firm rated highest rated by its staff
  3. Jacobs - Health and wellbeing champion; highly commended for excellence in transport; top 8 for low carbon leadership, smart operator, and excellence in water
  4. NEW Mace - Construction innovation champion; top 8 for low carbon leadership and excellence in transport
  5. Ramboll – Excellence in Transport champion; top 8 for design innovation and diversity leadership
  6. Sweco UK – Low Carbon Leader; highly commended for design innovation; top 8 for excellence in alternative energy
  7. Mott MacDonald – Innovation in Project initiation champion; top 8 for smart operator, diversity leadership, and excellence in alternative energy
  8. Costain – Top 8 for Innovation in project initiation and leadership in talent
  9. WSP – Top 8 for design innovation, diversity leadership, excellence in urban living, and excellence in transport
  10. Black & Veatch - Highly commended as a leader in collaboration, top 8 for Smart Operator, health and wellbeing leadership and excellence in water

The editorial team picked the best 12 in each of those 15 categories to go before our judges, whittling the 500 stories down to 180.

Initially our judges – all senior representatives from clients and industry stakeholder groups – scored them on paper. They whittled it down some more to 15 lots of 8, leaving 120 stories for them to hear in person.

Each category, as with all our categories this year, had a trio of judges hand-picked for their specific expertise the skillset being judged. Judges this year included Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown, Tideway chairman Sir Neville Simms, Crossrail chief executive Simon Wright, Highways England smart motorways programme director Shaun Pidcock, Cabinet Office construction director David Hancock, Innovate UK innovation lead Sarah Eager, Heathrow Airport chief people officer Paula Stannett and Infrastructure & Projects Authority senior advisor Keith Waller.

The stories were told to our 45 judges in our judging week in April and provides us with 15 category winners.

This process also gave us some scores to take forward into our assessment of our NCE100 top 10 and ultimately our NCE100 Company of the Year. These are the firms we consider to be the very best of our industry, the crème de la crème, and the companies that really are making waves.

To assessment that we take the scores from our judges and then combine them with some more marks awarded in answer to simple questions probing the extent to which our 100 companies invest and commit to innovation; want to change the industry for the better; and are trying to shape the world.

This gives us some hard facts to go with the smooth presentations. It’s quite revealing. For example, when it comes to tech excellence and innovation, would you have guessed that the 100 companies collectively brought 932 innovations to market this year, securing 32 patents in the process?

Perhaps not surprising given that 52 of the 100 have a budget for R&D and innovation.

And on the subject of managing risk, so important in the post-Carillion world, 72 of the 100 had risk register and a strategy for managing it.

A disappointment though would have to be the number of firms now with some form of accreditation for working at BIM Level 2 – just 33 firms.

And how about showing industry leadership in the issues that matter? Its good to see, for example, that 70 of you have a formal inclusion policy but a shame that just one more of you than last year - 25 - are signed up to WISE’s 10 Steps to Gender Equality. A more positive is that 60 of the 100 have formal initiatives in place in ensure that staff are not overstressed or over-tired.

The key sense-check question around collaboration was whether the firm had BS11000 certification – and just 22 do. Similarly, around low carbon the key question was whether a firm reported its carbon footprint – and just 29 do.

When it comes to talent development, 67 of the 100 have an approved ICE training agreement in place.

And finally, what about providing inspiration by seeking to make the world a better place? Well, it really would be good if a few more than 22 said they supported the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and had set targets to help achieve them.

So that’s the facts. There is then one final piece of the NCE100 assessment jigsaw and it’s the most important piece. Worth half the marks, we ratify each company’s answers through a staff survey. How innovative are you really? How passionate are you about changing cultures in our industry? How much are you really changing the world? Only staff really know the answer.

That is broadly what we were seeking answers to through the comprehensive questionnaire and we are massively grateful to the almost 8,000 who filled in our survey.

Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, smaller firms would claim nine of the top 10 spots if the NCE100 assessment was based on staff feedback alone. Top of the pile this year – by some distance - would have been MJ Rooney Construction, followed by Floodline Consulting, London Bridge Associates, Waterco, Anthony D Bates Partnership and Project Centre. The highest-rated big firm would be Arup, coming in at number 7.

Smaller firms would, in fact, have filled out 16 of the top20, with only Costain, Mace and Arcadis joining Arup in interrupting the flow.

It makes the NCE100 the most comprehensive assessment of civil engineering firms going and making the top 10 is an outstanding achievement. These are the companies that have been making the biggest stir in 2018. They’re the companies that have told us and our judges some great tales, and have backed them up with hard stats and the 360 degree feedback that can only come from their staff.

And remember this is all companies – consultants & contractors, big and small. So just getting into and staying in this top 10 is a pretty remarkable effort. Topping it is incredible.

And topping the pile this year was Dutch-owned Arcadis. As well as wowing our judges, claiming the Smart Operator gong as well as being highly commended for diversity leadership and making the top 8 for innovation in project management and excellence in climate resilience, it was only a few points behind Arup in staff scores too.

It means in three years of NCE100 there have been three NCE100 Companies of the Year with Arcadis joining Arup and Opus as Gold Medal Winners.

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