Catapult is the name for a network of new elite technology and innovation centres, designed to transform great research rapidly into commercial success. Catapult centres bridge the gap between universities, research institutions and innovative businesses, providing a space where specialists from each realm can work side by side on late-stage research and development. Catapult centres provide access to expert technical capabilities, equipment, and other resources required to take innovative ideas from concept to reality. The overarching aim of the Catapult Programme is to ensure that the best new ideas and innovation in the UK can be translated into a competitive advantage for UK businesses. This is a long-term investment that will open up global opportunities for the UK and generate future economic growth.
The Catapult project began in 2010 when Prime Minister David Cameron announced that, as part of its strategy to stimulate innovation and growth, the Government would invest in a network of such centres to be created and overseen by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board. In 2011, the Catapult Programme published its prospectus outlining the key principles behind what its first centres should do and, by the end of 2013, all seven of the ‘first wave’ Catapult centres were up and running.
Each of the seven Catapults focus on a specific area of technology and expertise. They are challenge-led and aim to help UK businesses to develop new solutions and products to meet current and future market needs. Once established, Catapult centres receive funding from the core Technology Strategy Board grant, from research and development grants won by the Catapult in collaboration with business, and from contract research funded fully by business. They represent over £1.4bn of private and public sector investment over the next five years, transforming the UK's innovation capability for the long term.
The Seven Centres cover
Transport Systems Catapult
The Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) has recognised the need for visionary transport solutions for the future. There is a need to find ways of moving goods and people faster, cheaper, smarter, and cleaner – or in other words – a need for Intelligent Mobility. The TSC positions itself as the ‘UK’s technology and innovation centre for Intelligent Mobility, harnessing emerging technologies to improve the movement of people and goods around the world’.
|The TSC has recognised that there is a significant global opportunity, potentially worth £900 billion annually by 2025, for improved ‘intelligent’ transport systems. The vision of the TSC is to drive the UK’s global leadership in Intelligent Mobility, providing an integrated approach to increase the UK’s market share and to attract investment. The TSC realises the opportunities in interconnecting different forms of transport seamlessly and efficiently, the need for different groups and organisations in the area to work collaboratively, and the requirement to support innovation and encourage start-ups now, so that UK products can reach the market place and knowledge assets can be sold internationally.|
Consequently, the TSC has been establishing a world class innovation space called their Imovation Centre, in Milton Keynes, to host collaborative project work, and for innovators to discuss their products and services directly with UK and international businesses.
Some of the early challenges being addressed through the Catapult include seamless journey systems, remote asset management and monitoring, traffic management and control systems, journey assistance systems, infrastructure integrity and security, connected vehicles, and novel economic and business models.
Future Cities Catapult
The Future Cities Catapult provides a global centre of excellence on urban innovation. This Catapult is focused on the challenge of urban integration; how cities can take a more joined-up approach to the way they plan and operate in order to improve quality of life, strengthen their economy and protect the environment. The Catapult recognises that, too often, we do things in cities that fight against each together. For example, we make life easier for the car and then create health problems for people, or we use energy to keep one building cool but we’re trying to keep the adjacent building warm. The approach fostered by the Catapult is for city systems to work together for mutual benefit.
Located in London, the Future Cities Catapult innovation centre is a place where businesses, academia, investors and cities can come together to develop solutions to the future needs of our cities. An example of an early project is the Greater Manchester Data Synchronisation Programme. This project involves developing a framework that aids data sharing between departments, boroughs and innovators. Using the framework, city leaders will be able to plan across departments, and SMEs will have access to the data they need to innovate new city products and services.
Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult
The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult is a centre of excellence for the UK's growing offshore renewable energy industry. It has been established to accelerate the design, deployment and commercialisation of renewable energy technology innovation. The Catapult works in collaboration with policy makers, industry large and small, utilities, owners and the UK's research organisations. It provides market access for SMEs and new technologies whilst driving greater efficiency to create sustainable offshore wind, wave and tidal industries delivering affordable, renewable energy.