60 second interview: Dick Elsy, CEO, High Value Manufacturing Catapult

Posted on 5 Dec 2012
Dick Elsy, CEO of the Catapult for High Value Manufacturing

HVM Catapult

Locations: Across seven centres including; Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Sheffield), Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Rotherham), Manufacturing Technology Centre (Coventry), Advanced Forming Research Centre (Glasgow), National Composites Centre (Bristol), Centre for Process Innovation (Wilton & Sedgefield), WMG (Warwick)

Total committed government funding: Government has committed at least £140m for the period 2012-2017. To date the seven centres have benefitted from around £350m from government. This investment is further leveraged with private sector investment and funding bids for collaborative R&D won in competition

Progress on engagement with industry: The three newest additions to the HVM Catapult (Nuclear AMRC, MTC and NCC) have secured over 100 industrial partners. In addition the HVM Catapult has engaged with around 1000 SMEs in the last year

Total number of employees across the HVM Catapult: 700 staff are employed across the HVM Catapult. Future growth is dependent on industry demand for Catapult services and the types of projects undertaken

Find out more at: catapult.innovateuk.org/high-value-manufacturing

TM: Why did you leave Torotrak and the private sector to lead the HVM Catapult?

I felt it was time to plough something back into the industry which fed and clothed me for so long. The HVM position came up and it seemed ideal. At Torotrak I had discovered just how challenging it can be to take a leading edge technology from readiness level 4 to level 8. By comparison my experience of industrialising products at Jaguar and Land Rover was relatively straight forward.

TM: What are your first impressions of working for government?

I am very impressed. There is a great clarity of thinking at TSB from high quality people who are absolutely on message about the importance of industry to the UK. I have seldom come across such a clearly expressed and well thought through initiative as the Catapults. Those I have met in the BIS [Department for Business Innovation and Skills] team are looking for continuity and, no matter what rosette they wear, every politician I have spoken to about HVM has expressed solid support for the Catapults.

TM: How well are the HVM centres doing so far at engaging with industry?

Very well I’d say. We have a lot of big ticket tier one clients in place and there is a community of SMEs building as well. Feedback from smaller companies does suggest that they are finding the different membership tariffs give them value. Some prefer the payas- you-go model for using the facilities but this can end up being more expensive if they use a centre a lot. We do need to work on accessibility however – not all the centres have the variable tariff options – and another area to work on is how to support cross-centre projects for big clients.

TM: What can we expect of the HVM in 2013?

It’s all about satisfying demand and communicating the value-add being created. At the moment we are still developing our metrics and exploring ways of recording the centres’ benefit to industry. ‘Lead’ measures will be based on indicators like value of collaborative R&D secured and SME engagement while ‘lag’ measures will include GVA creation and number of jobs created. Progress on these will be reported to the TSB’s oversight committee. In terms of new facilities coming online the next thing for industry to look out for is the WMG facility for the investigation of energy storage and management. Looking forward – as the other Catapult centres progress there will also be a responsibility for me to support cross-Catapult working. For instance, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult could benefit from the composites and large component machining expertise in place at the NCC [Bristol] and the Nuclear AMRC [Sheffield].