Calls for 30 Catapult centres by 2030

Posted on 5 Nov 2014 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Technology entrepreneur, Hermann Hauser, has called for a long-term expansion of the Catapult network with one or two elite technology and innovation centres created each year. This would lead to 20 by 2030 and 30 by 2030.

In a report published today at InnovateUK and requested by Business Secretary Vince Cable, Hauser sets out his recommendations to ministers on future scope, shape and ambition of the Catapult network.

The cost of building is consistent with recent calls from organisations such as CBI, to double the UK’s innovation spend, bringing InnovateUK’s budget closer to £1bn per year by 2020.

There are currently seven Catapult centres throughout the country with a further two due to open in 2015. Each Catapult is focused on a specific area of technology and expertise with global potential for UK businesses.

The centres bring together the best people in their fields with specialist facilities to support the development of new products and services.

The report cites investment in existing Catapults,  retaining the third/third/third funding model, and increased engagement with SMEs and universities.

Today’s paper follows Hauser’s original 2010 report to ministers when he originally recommended the creation of an elite network of technology and innovation centres in the UK.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, who asked Hauser to prepare a second report, said: “Innovation without commercialisation is a like a car without an engine.

“While the Catapult Network has been a success story for British innovation, taking our world-leading capabilities in areas like high value manufacturing and satellite applications to new and promising levels, I want to make sure we are getting enough bang for our buck.

“That’s why I asked Herman Hauser to conduct this follow-up review. It was his original 2010 report that recommended the creation of the centres so we will carefully consider the findings of the review, which will inform the thinking around our up coming Science and Innovation Strategy to be published next month.”

Hauser said: ” I have been genuinely surprised at the degree of progress made and impressed by the quality of the people and facilities in the emerging network.

“The UK is playing catch-up with the best innovation systems in the world in translational infrastructure, so I was very encouraged to see how rapidly we are closing the gap.

“I have made nine key recommendations in the report which, if acted upon, will strengthen the existing network. I look forward to seeing a flourishing Catapult network in decades to come providing the UK with a similar structure in depth as other competitor nations and a long lasting impact to the UK’s economic performance.”

Ms Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at EEF, said: “It is good news for innovative businesses that the Catapult network is established and growing.

“Catapult centres are an ambitious policy intervention that will help companies overcome some of the key barriers to innovation and they are benefiting from  growing business awareness and demand.

“Nonetheless, the Hauser review correctly identifies the need for additional core funding from government to ensure the Catapult centres have the resources they need to de-risk innovation and keep reinvesting in cutting edge equipment.

“Government should take forward the Hauser review’s recommendations in the science and innovation white paper next month.”