Simon Edmonds reports on the spectacular success of the UK’s revolutionary Catapult programme and announces a new publication that explains Innovate UK’s funding opportunities.
Now is a great time to find out what our world-class network of Catapult centres can do for your business. In August, the Chancellor announced an additional £780m funding for the Catapults, to help innovative businesses create future technologies.
This built on the £180m announced for the North East by the Prime Minister for the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the Centre for Process Innovation, part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult.
Gurpreet Ghataore, research engineer at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, demonstrates a mobile platform with an integrated 6-axis robot arm capable of autonomously navigating through an active workshop environment to Philip Hammond MP and Neil Rawlinson & Alex Stephenson (both MTC).
This significant announcement means the Catapults can build on their success and continue helping thousands of businesses across the UK to undertake innovative R&D. This long-term investment will mean the Catapults can help deliver the Grand Challenges of the Industrial Strategy in their sectors and help the UK achieve its ambition to raise investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.
In their first five years the Catapults have supported around 3,000 small businesses to develop and exploit new technologies. They operate more than £850m-worth of world-class facilities and are also training hundreds of apprentices and doctoral students. A shining example is the HVM Catapult, where in the last year 900 apprentices have gained invaluable practical experience with cutting-edge technologies used in modern manufacturing.
The Chancellor made the announcement during a visit to the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, which is part of the HVM Catapult. He met with apprentices and workers who specialise in automation and machining.
This article first appeared in the October issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here.
If you’re a business you can use the Catapults to access technical facilities and expertise. You can get support to help you adopt, develop and exploit your innovation. For more information on the Catapults, please see www.catapult.org.uk
Helping innovative businesses succeed
Innovative manufacturers are featured in a new publication from Innovate UK called Helping Innovative Businesses Succeed. This brochure explains how Innovate UK offers funding to enable businesses to innovate faster, more intensely, or more collaboratively than they would otherwise, as well as collaboration support to help businesses, researchers, investors and potential customers to work together.
It provides details on flagship programmes, including the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy – open-funding competitions, innovation loans and the investment accelerator.
You can also read about some of the businesses that have gone on to achieve success after receiving funding and support from Innovate UK. Here are two examples:
- Advanced materials manufacturer Versarien started out with two staff in 2010, operating out of a garage. However, after winning an Innovate UK grant the company began to grow rapidly. Versarien now employs more than 105 people across four sites in the UK, and by 2015 was listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 2017 it received “one of, if not the biggest, graphene orders in the world,” says founder and chief executive Neill Ricketts. “Graphene is coming of age,” says Ricketts. “It’ll be in almost everything that we use from rubber bands to structural components in aircrafts, consumer goods and clothing.”
- At Brill Power, funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund has allowed this innovative company to lead a project on enhancing the manufacture and performance of electric vehicle batteries. “At Brill Power we’ve developed battery control and management technology that can make lithium-ion batteries live for up to 60% longer,” says Brill Power CEO Christoph Birkl. Brill Power’s approach addresses poor longevity by producing modular batteries which means when one module goes, the whole battery doesn’t need to be replaced.