Sir David Higgins

Innovation as a Catalyst for Growth

On 8 October 2012 David Higgins, knighted for his work on Europe's biggest construction project, the Olympic Park in London, presented the 2012 Dean's International Lecture.

In his lecture 'Innovation as a catalyst for growth', Sir David argued that infrastructure is much more than just a discounted cash flow. It is a national asset.

Using examples like the Oresund Bridge, the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe connecting the Danish capital of Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmo, Sir David showed that whilst the bridge itself has not achieved the anticipated traffic and could be considered poor value for money, it has transformed this part of Scandinavia. The same hard economic modelling, if applied to the Channel Tunnel would show a similar comparison. The High Speed rail link between London and Paris - which has replaced half of all air traffic - has also transformed travel between the two cities.

Sir David brought a unique experience and perspective from working on the London Olympics infrastructure, a project that itself had a transformational impact on East London.

About Sir David Higgins

Sir David gained his degree in civil engineering at the University of Sydney and a diploma at the Securities Institute of Australia. After graduation, he worked in the United Kingdom and Africa, before returning to Australia in 1983, and joining the international property and construction company Lend Lease Corporation in 1985.

In 1995, he was appointed managing director and chief executive of Lend Lease when the corporation's developments included the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. In March 2003, Higgins was Chief Executive of English Partnerships, a UK government national regeneration agency. Higgins was appointed Chief Executive Designate of the Olympic Development Authority from December 2005, and appointed Chief Executive from March 2006. In September 2010, he took up the role of Chief Executive of Network Rail.