The idea of Catapults traces back to a report published in 2010: The Current and Future Role of Technology and Innovation Centres in the UK, by Dr Hermann Hauser. This report sought to explore the perennial poor performance of the UK in deriving industrial and economic benefits from our world-leading research institutions, when compared to other countries – often without such strong research assets. It concluded that one cause was a missing piece of ‘translational infrastructure’ in the UK, which other countries had. That piece of translational infrastructure we now call Catapults.
Satellite Applications was chosen as one of the first Catapults due to the potential that had been identified by the joint government/industry Space Innovation and Growth Strategy, also of 2010, and was launched in 2013. There are now nine Catapults supporting new industries around emerging technologies as diverse as Cell and Gene Therapies to Offshore Wind, all sitting at the interface between research and business, facilitating the commercialisation of new ideas as efficiently as possible.
Over the last seven years, the Satellite Applications Catapult has played a major role in the establishment and development of a vibrant space and satellite applications start-up ecosystem. We now have an active and committed investor community and knowledgeable customers from government and across the private sector, all well versed in the economic opportunity that can be realised from space. We have shown how a private company operating with a public purpose can function as effective ‘translational infrastructure’ and shape new industries by helping businesses overcome barriers to innovation.
Looking forward the UK is recognising the potential and importance of space as a vehicle to support international, security, economic growth, regional levelling up and sustainability objectives. The government has recently demonstrated the strength of its commitment to the UK’s role in space through the creation of the national space council, and its participation in the purchase of OneWeb.
The Satellite Applications Catapult operates at the heart of the space community. At the same time, we work with new customers for space data, from all parts of the economy, who might not think of space as being relevant to them. We are opening everyone’s eyes to the power of space, breaking down barriers, and accelerating the adoption of space-based solutions to address some of the world’s biggest challenges.
To innovate for a better world, empowered by space.
Stuart Martin, CEO