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The Catapult network was established by Innovate UK, and is a measure to support innovation by UK business. Each Catapult centre does this by providing access to expert technical capabilities, equipment, and other resources required to take innovative ideas from concept to reality. Catapults are not-for-profit, independent physical centres which connect businesses with the UK’s research and academic communities.
The Catapult centres specialises in various areas of technology, but all offer a space with the facilities and expertise to enable businesses and researchers to collaboratively solve key problems and develop new products and services on a commercial scale.
Whether a business is in need of a new manufacturing process, a fresh approach to digital rights protection, or a new way of balancing energy demands in a future city environment, Catapults can help them.
As of 2017, ten Catapults have been set up or are being established:
Each of the centres has a business development team that can be contacted by interested parties. As a starting point, all the Catapults have an online presence at https://www.catapult.org.uk/ with full contact details for each centre.
Establishing and maintaining a network of centres with world-leading technical capabilities requires a sustained investment – from both public and private sector. Centres also need to create a critical mass of activity surrounding them which will anchor the activities of globally mobile companies in the UK. Catapult gains its funds from a mix of competitively earned commercial funding and core Innovate UK investment. The funding model will vary and can be expressed in simplified terms as following the one-third, one-third, one-third model. Under this model, fully-established centres are required to generate their funding broadly equally from three sources:
In 2017, the Catapult programme published an executive summary of its activities and achievements. In the network report of 2017, Catapult states that it supported 2,851 SMEs, delivered 636 academic collaborations and created 2,473 industrial cooperation initiatives.
This measure contributes to implement the defined strategic objectives. Its particular focus is on innovation projects realised in cooperation between different partners in order to strengthen the partners’ competitiveness and to create employment. This allows tracing the most characteristic aspects of this measure: It is (i) addressing the specific regional structure (e.g. different centres for different sectors) and is (ii) directly linked to strategic considerations in the country.