Broadening the Catapult Network

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By Professor Nick Veck, Head of CEO Office, Satellite Applications Catapult

Following the announcement to extend the Satellite Applications Catapult’s UK network of Centres of Excellence from three to five, Nick Veck, examines the reasons behind the expansion.

COEmapnewIncreasing the UK’s satellite applications links with the science base, while pro-actively achieving regional engagement and supporting the industry’s growth, were the main drivers for establishing our initial Centres of Excellence in Satellite Applications in the East Midlands, Central Scotland and North East England in early 2014.

Since then, there has been a range of activities led by each of the respective Centres, linking universities, large industry and SMEs to help develop satellite-derived applications and solutions.

As a result, the Catapult launched a second call for applications at the end of 2015 to extend its network and engagement reach. We were delighted that the UK Space Agency also recognised the success of our programme and provided additional financial support to this second phase of the initiative. Higher education institutions and research and enterprise organisations were all eligible to apply.

Establishing a presence in the south

Strong proposals from teams in the southern region of the UK – a previously unrepresented area – led to our decision to establish new Centres of Excellence in the South West and South Coast of England, extending the overall network to five centres.

The South West Centre will consist of partners from the University of Exeter, Plymouth University, Falmouth University, the Met Office, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Goonhilly Earth Station and Rothamsted Research. It will be focusing on the Agritech, Maritime and e-Health markets.

The South Coast Centre will consist of partners from the University of Portsmouth, University of Brighton, University of Southampton, the National Oceanography Centre, Marine South East, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and Hampshire County Council. It will focus on Maritime and Marine and Autonomous Systems markets.

I am confident that this expansion will result in the generation of further understanding and awareness of the opportunities that satellite data and technology can provide – especially among market sectors not currently engaging with them – and will develop new commercial opportunities for the UK’s fast-growing space sector, as it pursues its target of being worth £40bn per year by 2030 and generating 100,000 new jobs.

We are especially pleased that the Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson, has already thrown his support behind the extended network, predicting that “these new Centres will deliver more support to businesses and scientists across the country.”

Roadshows offer additional engagement opportunities

In tandem with this activity, the Catapult has just begun the second of its UK-wide Roadshows to engage face-to-face with space and non-space sector audiences about the growing opportunities offered by satellite technologies.

Attendees will receive updates on the Catapult’s successes, programmes and future strategy, as well as hear from business innovation experts on the expanding UK space sector. Local keynote speakers will also be presenting their new satellite technology-based initiatives.

The first two events were in Glasgow and Newcastle respectively. Over the coming weeks, events will also take place in Manchester, Leicester, Oxford, Exeter, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Belfast. Full calendar of events

Each location features one of the Catapult’s themed programme areas – Blue Economy, Intelligent Transport Systems, Sustainable Living and Explore Technology – with delegates encouraged to contribute to a roundtable discussion, either about the featured programme area or business support (including access to funding, intellectual property, and data security). There will also be opportunities for networking and discussions at each event.