Press release

The Digital Catapult launches 3 local centres to generate thousands of new jobs and stimulate digital growth across the UK

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Digital Catapult announces 3 local Digital Catapult Centres in Sunderland, Brighton and Bradford.

The Digital Catapult, a national centre to rapidly advance the UK’s best digital ideas, will today (5 November 2014) announce the appointment of 3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) led consortia to establish 3 local Digital Catapult Centres in Sunderland, Brighton and Bradford. All 3 centres are due to open in March 2015.

The 3 local centres have a united aim of generating thousands of new jobs, driving innovation at a local level and creating millions in linked investment and future funding by 2025. They will support the London King’s Cross Digital Catapult Centre which will be opened today (5 November 2014) by Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey. They will help accelerate the UK’s digital economy by providing entrepreneurs, SMEs, researchers and corporate organisations with a physical space to meet and collaborate on development projects.

The Digital Catapult will initially support the 3 LEPs with resources and collaborative support of up to £500,000. This includes the cost of setting up each local Digital Catapult Centre, costs for developing and delivering projects agreed and aligned with the Catapult’s focus areas and for use of Catapult resources to support engagement and initiatives (1).

Minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey said:

It is an exciting time to be a tech business in the UK. Our digital economy is already one of the strongest markets in the world, valued at more than £100 billion. Growth areas including the Internet of Things and digital creative industries are opening up a range of new opportunities for companies in the sector.

The new Digital Catapult Centre will provide a thriving, state-of-the-art hub for some of the country’s most innovative digital companies and entrepreneurs.

The 3 proposed consortia and their focus areas are:

  • the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton (led by Coast to Capital LEP): Encouraging innovation and value from real-time and location-based data (the Internet of Place)
  • the Digital Catapult Centre North East and Tees Valley (led by the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP): The controlled delivery and security of data so as to increase information sharing amongst businesses and organisations and open up new business models and revenue streams
  • the Digital Catapult Centre Yorkshire (led by Leeds City Region LEP and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP): Supporting digital health innovation and developing new healthcare products and services.

Neil Crockett, CEO, the Digital Catapult said:

Some of the most exciting digital innovation in the UK is happening in local communities that bring together new ideas, businesses, universities and the public sector. As a national centre, it is important we support and collaborate with these local innovation communities who are doing amazing things in our focus areas. The open call has only reinforced our view that there are many brilliant digital innovation communities across the UK, and we hope it is the start to building a whole range of exciting future relationships.

The 3 consortia were chosen following a competitive bid process. 17 LEP and local consortia bids were received involving more than 50 businesses, local authorities, SMEs and university partners (2).

The Digital Catapult builds platforms for UK SMEs to innovate on at speed and with less risk, so new digital products and services can be accelerated to market. It works with a range of partners interested in the success of the digital economy including large businesses, start-ups and SMEs and the research and academic community. It will support 10,000 small businesses by 2018, delivering an economic benefit of £365 million.

The relationships with the LEPs are non-exclusive.

Supporting Quotes:

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of Innovate UK, said:

The Digital Catapult Centre is a state-of-the art innovation facility that will provide the very best collaboration, showcase and laboratory space for digital companies large and small. Its opening is further evidence of the rapid progress that has been made in creating the Catapult network – world-class facilities are now fully operational for 6 Catapults across the country with the Future Cities Catapult’s centre due to open in the Spring.

Chris Thompson, Partnerships Director at The Digital Catapult said:

The successful bidders demonstrated a long-term commitment to supporting business creation, growth and economic impact through data-led innovation. They also clearly presented how the Catapult could add significant value to their broader local initiatives and link in with existing university, EU, national and regional funding sources. We hope to work closely with them in the next 3 years to encourage some truly disruptive innovations.

Tim Wates, Chairman of Coast to Capital LEP said:

Coast to Capital LEP is really excited to have been chosen to host a Digital Catapult Centre. Our proposal was created with the active engagement of universities, large international businesses, SMEs and start-ups and we believe that is why it delivered an approach which was both innovative and grounded. Our ‘Internet of Place’ approach puts people and their actions centre-stage in the creation, evaluation and use of data; it takes us beyond the internet of things by focusing on the real-time context in which data is generated. We are confident that the work our hub undertakes will open up opportunities to create genuine value and competitive advantage, not just for the Coast to Capital region but nationwide.

Phil Jones, Digital Champion at Coast to Capital LEP said:

Digital Catapult Brighton will operate around 3 principles: innovation, collaboration and openness. The projects it houses will provide real opportunities for start-ups and small digital business to work with each other and with universities and large corporates to turn ideas into activities with real value to them.

Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said:

We’re absolutely delighted that Sunderland’s flagship technology base Sunderland Software Centre will soon be home to one of just 3 physical digital innovation centres in the UK. Sunderland is a city that has – for some time – been growing its reputation for innovation and technology. And the success we have seen in this field is something that has been fully supported by the city council, through our on-going investment in Sunderland Software City as well as hard and soft infrastructure to create the right conditions for the businesses in the field to flourish. To become a key focal point of an initiative that will not only support start ups and SMEs, but that will be a place in which software businesses can collaborate and share ideas, is exactly what the Sunderland Software Centre was built to achieve. It’s fantastic news for the city and wider North East region.

Sandy Anderson, Chairman of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley, said:

Rapid innovation and digital technology have the potential to help diversify and transform the industrial landscape in Tees Valley. It is fantastic and exciting news for Tees Valley and the North East that we have been appointed to help strengthen the reach of this important sector. Being selected to help drive the digital revolution in our region will ensure that firms and entrepreneurs are able to capitalise on emerging opportunities with the Connected Digital Economy Catapult empowering us with the means, support and knowledge to bring ideas to fruition more speedily and effectively.

Professor Brian Cantor, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford, said:

As a world-leading technology university, Bradford is ideally suited to this initiative. The centre will build on our recently launched Digital Health Enterprise Zone, enabling companies developing new healthcare products and services to connect with Bradford’s outstanding capabilities in healthcare systems research, practice-based medicine and information and communications technology and with other centres nationally, driving the UK digital economy.

Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said:

The LEP is delighted to have played a key role in this successful bid to the Digital Catapult to stimulate the innovation development needs of SMEs across the City Region. The project will enable businesses to maximise the opportunities from new technologies such as big data and has the potential to contribute significant economic growth for both the Leeds City Region and the wider northern economy.

Notes to editors:

(1) LEPs will match this funding using a mix of Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Research Council and other university funds, EU and European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds, local growth funds and in-kind contributions from local businesses and networks.

(2) All applications were assessed by an independent review panel consisting of Digital Catapult senior management, representatives of its Advisory Network and independent national organisations with strong alignment with LEP and Local Consortia activity. The Digital Catapult Board gave final approval.

About The Digital Catapult

The Digital Catapult, which became operational in 2013, is a national centre to rapidly advance the UK’s best digital ideas. The Digital Catapult is 1 of 7 Catapults funded by the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK).

The specific aim of the Digital Catapult is to drive future economic growth in the digital economy by unlocking value from proprietary data in faster, better and more trusted ways.

Unlike a number of other Innovate UK programmes, the Digital Catapult is not a funding agency. Instead, it provides support based upon available facilities, expertise and by bringing partners together to help UK SMEs innovate at speed and with less risk so that new digital products and services can be accelerated to market.

In 2014, the Digital Catapult will open the Digital Catapult Centre in central London, which will provide an exciting new space for innovators, businesses and academia to showcase their products, connect and collaborate.

By 2018, the Digital Catapult will have spent £46 million in projects to boost the UK digital economy; this is an agile process, meaning each project is continuously evaluated to determine whether further investment will unlock even greater economic value.

For more information about the Digital Catapult’s projects and programmes please visit the website.

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s innovation agency. Taking a new idea to market is a challenge. Innovate UK funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth.