« go back

Catapults share important characteristics... obviously!

David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board (ie the the person behind the Catapults initiative), recently wrote an update (The trajectory of Catapults) to his thoughts on Catapults.  (see his first post - Herding Catapults - here.)  

In this, his second article, now that the Technology Strategy Board has "taken the business case for the seventh catapult [ie the Transport Systems Catapult] to our Governing Board for approval" David explains in more detail how the Catapult progamme is coming together.  He outlines what they have learnt through the process, and explains that although the centres may not be right for all areas of technological activity, this process has birthed more ideas for the next phase in the development of this important addition to the innovation landscape of the United Kingdom.

He has this to say of the final two Catapults (Future Cities, and Transport) that were presented to the Governing Board: 

The final pair of Catapults share yet another characteristic – they are about integration of activities we have historically thought of as separate.  Future Cities had already been identified as a market by many large companies, who had set up divisions to cover the development of products and services within their own organisation, but many realised that the scale of integration required was probably beyond a single company – even a large one.  Integrating the systems of a city to ensure that it presents an attractive location for people to live and companies to locate yet operates with a budget that includes both the financial and environmental costs is a pressing need for those who run cities – and it is they who are setting the pace of change.  The need to integrate national and international transport systems is as economically important but seems to (so far) have less champions.  In both cases, the Catapult will contain the ability to model the integration of systems that, up until now, have been treated as separate.  This will be linked to data feeds from real world demonstrators and these data used to validate and extend the models so that new products and services can be de-risked before launch.


During our webinars, a frequently asked question is "How will the Transport Systems Catapult link in with other Catapults?"

Obvious links with other Catapults

It is clear from this, that there will be very obvious linkages with the Future Cities Catapult.  From David Bott's comments, it seems clear that they will share aspects of modelling using data from real world demonstrators, to create and enhance knowledge of systems integration.  

However, it surely doesn't stop there.  Extending this, and thinking from a systems perspective, it is also obvious that there will be comparable and synergistic integration with the Connected Digital Economy Catapult and the Satellite Applications Catapult. 

The Connected Digital Economy Catapult aims to help the UK "develop and launch digitally-­enabled systems, services and products".  Tell me that future integrated transport systems won't require new digital services to support them, and I'll eat my copper coaxial telephone cable before you install my high speed optical cable.

Likewise with Satellite Applications.  If we aren't going to need to precisely locate where people, goods and transport are - or will need to be - then I'll give you my iPhone 5 (you may have to surgically remove it first!).

What about the future manufacturing technologies that will be needed to deliver these amazing services?  Well, luckily the High Value Manufacturing Catapult is already well underway, with no less than SEVEN locations strategically placed around the UK, acting as attractors for key innovative processes to be developed.

Where will the power for our future low carbon world come from?  How are we going to power our carbon-efficient homes, cities, infrastructure and vehicles?  Well, undoubtedly, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult will engender innovative solutions....

And this leads me neatly back to Transport and integrated systems..... How will the offshore renewable energy generators be serviced, monitored, upgraded, etc?  We'll need sensors, digital systems, satellite applications and earth observation, advanced manufacturing technologies, ships, engines... you name it.

So, when you think of Transport SYSTEMS, remember it's all integrated.  However.... don't just look at the usual suspects....

Innovation happens on the periphery 

As a Knowledge Management professional, I know that innovation and creation of new knowledge needs a number of factors - chaos is good, so is uncertainty, so is a big shock ("neccessity is the mother of invention" remember that one?).  But so is randomness.  Randomness often happens on the periphery of the domain of familiarity.  A recent Harvard Business Review blog article highlights the importance of peripheries.  

So, if you picture a Venn Diagram of where the Catapults overlap, the interesting parts are where they just touch.  Seeing the same problem through different eyes, you bring a different set of knowledge to an existing domain.  

Integrated Systems - Catapult Programmes

So, the team at the Technology Strategy Board who are overseeing the Catapults are from different domains, they meet and share their experiences and plans, and there is obvious synergy between the Catapults.

But what they really need is for people in industry and academia to get involved - take the leap of faith and look BEYOND - to see patterns and linkages and connections with something random and different and share this with others to come up with some genuine new ideas.

New info on @TSCatapult

So.... for my small part, to help you do this, I am going to reconfigure the @TSCatapult feed to include the update articles from the other Catapults listed above.

So...for your part, at the very least, sign up to the feed and start thinking.  And tell me what else you'd find useful.  Tweet me directly @tessadarley, or via the @TSCatapult feed.

'See' you at the next webinar!





1 person has had something to say so far


You are right. The overlap between the Catapults is very strong if you look in the right way. You've got some I didn't spot!

Posted on 21/02/13 18:45.

Most read articles

Transport Systems Catapult Questions and Answers

Definitive list of questions We expect many questions around the process of - and the...

Three Non-Executive Directors onboard at the Transport Systems Catapult

The Transport Systems Catapult, the new technology and innovation centre for integrated...

Answers to over 50 more questions about the Transport Systems Catapult are now available

The questions that were asked during our interactive webinar have been responded to and are...