Background to the Transport Systems Catapult

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Budget in March 2012 that a Transport Systems Catapult will be established.

The Technology Strategy Board is therefore establishing a Transport Systems Catapult: a technology and innovation centre.  The Catapult will enable UK business to benefit from the rapidly growing market for innovative transport systems and services.  This global market is estimated to be in excess of £500 billion per annum. 

The vision for theTransport Systems Catapult is -

“The globally recognised centre of excellence for the development and deployment of future innovations in Transport Systems.”

The Catapult will bring together organisations in a way that hasn’t happened before; providing a unique capability to develop innovative transport systems; deriving substantial benefits by breaking down existing silos and barriers. 

The Catapult will open up opportunities for participants, which they cannot access in isolation and which, through enhanced collaboration and integration, will get better products and services to market faster and more cost effectively.

Following the extensive consultation period and review of existing road maps carried out in 2011, a number of themes have been identified.  These cross-cutting themes are not currently being addressed as the commercial business case for their development requires collaboration across the transport community.

The four themes identified are

  • Modal integration
  • System Performance
  • Business models
  • Real-time information

All four of these themes have cross-modal benefits and the individual projects falling under each of the themes must, similarly, have cross-modal objectives.  The Transport Systems Catapult’s programme will be defined along with its five year plan over the next 6-9 months. However, examples of potential activities which have already been identified for each of these themes include:

Modal Integration

Intermodal transfer strategies and technologies which will enhance transport of people and goods, drawing on research by manufacturers, operators and technology houses.  Modal integration will result in better hand-over from one mode of transport to another and use of the collective capacity; smoothing congestion and increasing journey reliability. 

System Performance

Smart asset management strategies which exploit the closely related skills and emerging technologies in road and rail control systems, for example; working towards resolving the conflict between access for maintenance and operation of modal networks.  Minimising access time for maintenance will, by definition, maximise time available for transport services.

Business models

Business models which unlock new value chains, and strategies for better use of the supply chain (including SMEs and other innovator and specialists); developed by new ways of working across the value chain and rationalising the supply chain.

Real-time information

Overcome the piecemeal uptake of real-time and near real-time information technologies by interfacing transport modes by bringing all beneficiaries and contributors together: to develop the concepts, run cross-modal trials and drive the solutions through to commercialisation and implementation.  The Transport Systems Catapult will be able to drive development; enabling all benefitting parties to move forward together with reduced exposure and minimised risks.

Why a Catapult?

We have a market failure in that there is no co-ordinated effort addressing the issues of transport systems and integration. The Transport Systems Catapult will address this by bringing together industry and the science and research base – the problem-owners, the solution providers and the knowledge base – so that the centre can address the inter-connected technological, financial and human challenges facing transport.

The UK is well positioned

The UK has the strength to exploit the market for innovation in transport systems. We have world-leading companies in transport systems design and construction, vehicle and infrastructure design and manufacture, transport operations and logistics, communications and the digital economy, finance, and insurance.  We also have a reputation for innovation; especially in our SMEs.

Our ability to bring together the cluster of organisations needed to design, finance, risk manage and execute complex cross-modal projects makes the UK a major global centre for such projects. The UK has a world-class science and research base developing innovative solutions for transport and providing a talent pool for UK and global firms.

Recent news articles

NTSM Facility summary report from Modelling World 2013

Knowing that not everyone who was interested could make it on the day, we thought we would...

Innovation funding up for grabs

The global rail industry is growing steadily and in the UK alone there is unprecedented...

Catapult to Success: Be Ambitious, Bold and Enterprising

The creation and nurture of an environment where the best minds in business, industry and...

Catapults share important characteristics... obviously!

David Bott , Director of Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board (ie the the...