Offshore wind, green aerospace innovations, and energy systems among the beneficiaries as Treasury announces fresh funding for UK high-tech hubs
The Treasury has today announced it is to assign an extra £780m of funding to the UK’s Catapult Centres as it seeks to fast-track the R&D efforts required to support the government’s industrial and clean growth strategies.
Speaking on a visit to the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the new five year funding settlement would allow the Catapult Centres to expand and help accelerate the development of a raft of innovative new technologies.
“We are working hard to build a stronger, fairer economy – dealing with the deficit, helping people into work, and cutting taxes for individuals and businesses,” he said. “Unemployment is at its lowest since the 1970s, our national debt is starting to fall, and the economy has grown every year since 2010.
“It is by backing innovative British companies to grow and create jobs that we will continue this progress and build an economy fit for the future. Today’s £780m investment will support innovators across the country to create the technologies of the future, and the better, highly-paid jobs we urgently need.”
The move comes on the same day as official figures confirmed GDP growth hit 0.4 per cent in the second quarter of the year, an improvement on the 0.2 per cent recorded in the first quarter of 2018, but still behind historical trends and much of the rest of the G7. There was also confirmation the manufacturing sector has tipped into technical recession after two consecutive quarters of contraction.
The new innovation funding follows the announcement last month of £180m of new funding for R&D centres in the north east, including the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.
Hammond said today’s announcement took the total of new innovation funding to almost £1bn.
The move effectively secures the future of the Catapult centres into the next parliament and will enable support for a wide range of R&D projects, including many that are focused on clean technologies.
For example, the Manufacturing Technology Centre – which has today been awarded £270m of new funding – is working on a series of projects to advance 3D Printing, which has been widely tipped to drastically improve resource efficiency across the sector.
Similarly, new funding for the Satellite Applications Catapult will support the Eyes on the Seas project, which is seeking to improve enforcement of marine protected zones, while funding for the National Composite Centre will support on-going work to improve the efficiency of aeroplane wings.
Dr Ian Campbell, interim executive chair of Innovate UK, said the network of Catapult Centres were providing critical support for businesses across the UK.
“Today’s significant announcement means our world-class network of catapults can build on their success and continue helping thousands of businesses across the UK to undertake innovative R&D,” he said. “This long-term investment will mean the catapults can help deliver the Grand Challenges of the Industrial Strategy in their sectors and help the UK achieve its ambition to raise investment in R&D to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027.
“In their first five years the catapults have supported around 3,000 small businesses to develop and exploit new technologies. They operate more than £850m world-class facilities and are also training hundreds of apprentices and doctoral students, such as at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult where in the last year 900 apprentices have gained invaluable practical experience with cutting-edge technologies used in modern manufacturing.”