Lords Committee says Catapult Network should be default mechanism for exploiting promising technologies and sectors

Published: 5 February 2021

A House of Lords inquiry has found the Catapult Network “provides a valuable contribution to the innovation and technology sector“.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee published its report today: ‘Catapults: bridging the gap between research and industry’ on the impact of the UK technology and innovation centres, and how Catapults contribute to delivering the UK’s R&D Roadmap.

Key findings include:

  • Catapults provide valuable contributions to the innovation and technology sector.
  • Increasing support for Catapults is vital, otherwise, the Government are currently “unlikely” to reach its targets for R&D spending.
  • Barriers in the current system prevent Catapults from maximising innovation potential and economic gain.
  • UK Catapults are disadvantaged compared with other research bodies and other countries’ innovation centres.

Energy Systems Catapult CEO, Philip New, said: “we are delighted that the House of Lords’ inquiry recognised the vital role that Catapult’s already play in driving innovation across the economy and the potential they have to help the UK become an international innovation powerhouse.

“After a year that has put such strain on businesses and households alike, it is vital that we build back on the existing strengths of the UK economy and strive to lead globally on emerging sectors such as the Net Zero economy.”

The Catapult Network Chair, and CEO of Digital Catapult, Dr Jeremy Silver said: “This report recognises the value of the Catapult Network as a key national strategic asset, maximising the UK’s potential from innovation, unlocking huge economic growth, supporting the Government’s levelling-up agenda, and addressing key global challenges. It is extremely encouraging that the report asks for a long-term and more integrated role for the Network in contributing to the Governments target for R&D to reach 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

“The Catapult Network will continue to nurture strong collaborations across research and industry, helping to create the local, regional, and national innovation ecosystems that extract the best value from public investment. We will continue to work alongside colleagues across UK Government, UKRI and Innovate UK, to advance this mission.”

The UK has an extremely strong academic base of which the Catapults are uniquely placed to help to de-risk early adoption of ideas and bring them to market. The pandemic has highlighted how the power of the Catapult Network can quickly mobilise the business and research communities to respond quickly to a crisis.

A key recommendation of the report was that the Government makes the best possible use of the Catapult Network, promoting it as the UK’s national innovation asset, and using it as the default mechanism for exploiting promising technologies and sectors. The Committee recommend that the Government promotes its R&D strategy confidently, in the UK and internationally.

About the Catapult Network

The Catapult Network supports businesses in transforming great ideas into valuable products and services. We are a Network of world-leading technology and innovation centres established by Innovate UK. We deliver impact across the UK economy, enabling businesses to thrive in global markets. Since inception, the Catapults have collectively played a lead role in delivering over 14,000 industry collaborations, over 5000 academic collaborations and supported over 8,000 innovative SMEs across a wide range of sectors and extended international partnership projects.