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Catapult Centre for Transport Systems announced in Budget!

Transport Systems and Future Cities Catapults Announced

As part of the Budget day announcement, the government has revealed plans for two new centres that will demonstrate how technology and innovation can improve services and quality life in cities and develop integrated, efficient and sustainable national transport systems.

What this means to the Transport KTN

The Transport KTN welcomes the decision to create a Transport Systems Catapult.  It provides the catalyst and opportunity for the UK to a become world leader in the development and deployment of integrated transport systems.

The Transport KTN has spent the last 12 months bringing together independent, but interrelated organisations from right across the sector to address common challenges and support the development of integrated, efficient and sustainable transport systems.  The announcement of the Catapult reflects the success we have had in bringing the dispersed transport communities together to act upon the substantial opportunities. 

The Catapult will bring together the UK’s transport companies with world leading IT companies, innovative SMEs and leading universities to develop profitable new products and services The global transport market is around £ 3 trillion per annum and the Catapult will enable UK organisations to gain a major stake in the emerging transport systems market that is estimated to be worth in excess of £150 billion annually to the UK.

The Catapult provides a unique opportunity for UK organisations to address both a global opportunity and a national need.

Neil Ridley, Director of the Transport KTN says, "We look forward to continuing to work with industry, Government and academia in shaping and developing the Catapult going forward at this exciting time for the UK Transport sector."

Stimulating economic growth

The Transport Systems and Future Cities Catapult centres will help stimulate economic growth by focussing on innovations that will give UK businesses a technological edge in global markets that could be worth hundreds of billions per year. The Technology Strategy Board (www.innovateuk.org) will work with UK business to establish the centres in the coming months.

Great news!

Higher Education and Science Minister David Willetts said: “The Catapult programme is central to our plan for growth. By making long term investments in areas where Britain has, or can develop a technological edge, we can make sure that we take advantage of that in the future and be the first to bring new products and services to the market.

“Now that seven Catapults have been announced, I look forward to seeing what they develop and hearing how they are leading the charge towards balanced and sustainable economic growth.”

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said: “Both Future Cities and Transport Systems will be incredibly important areas of growth in the next 10-15 years. The market opportunity for integrated city systems is estimated to be worth £200bn a year by 2030. The market opportunity for effective transport systems is already valued at over £190bn per year. The proposed Catapult centres in each of these areas will help UK businesses gain an important share of these markets through more rapid commercialisation of new ideas.”

Both Catapult centres will bring together UK business and SMEs, (city) governments and academia to encourage businesses to develop exciting new ideas. They will also allow ideas to be demonstrated in a controlled environment and later developed into commercial products and services to be sold all over the world.

Transport Systems

The Transport Systems Catapult centre will focus on efficient and sustainable ways to move people and goods (freight) across national transport systems including road, rail, sea and air. Current transport systems are under increasing pressure from the rise in population and transportation needs.

Fully integrated transport systems will ease congestion and prepare for the future - rising population and growing number of goods shipped all over the world.

Future Cities

The Future Cities Catapult will look at ways to integrate city functions and services efficiently, putting the citizen at the heart of its operations. This will address a wide number of problems experienced in cities today, such as changes to population, demographics climate, congestion and healthcare. These issues are putting pressure on key resources within cities.

The benefits of citywide solutions include improved economic activity, quality of life for its residents and a lower environmental footprint.

Ministers' views

Cities Minister Greg Clark and Transport Minister Theresa Villiers both welcomed the news.

Cities Minister Greg Clark said: “Around the world, more and more people are living in cities. While this can cause great problems, it also provides a massive opportunity to provide solutions to those problems. The new Catapult will help British businesses, and British researchers seize those opportunities, find innovative solutions, and then sell those solutions to the World.”

Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said: “I warmly welcome the plan to establish a Transport Systems Catapult centre. I can see such a centre making a significant contribution to reducing road congestion, reducing rail delays and improving end-to end journeys by bringing together companies to develop new innovative products and services. These will benefit both the UK transport system and help UK companies to sell these innovative solutions to the rest of the world. The DfT has set aside £17 million to support this centre, which is in addition to the Technology Strategy Board contribution.”

What next?

The Technology Strategy Board will now begin a registration of interest phase for businesses and organisations wanting to be involved in establishing the Catapults.

This announcement completes an important consultation phase for the Technology Strategy Board and will mean that seven centres will be included in the current funding period to be established by April 2013.

Catapult will deliver benefits, says RIA

The Railway Industry Association welcomes the announcement by the Technology Strategy Board that a Transport Systems Catapult innovation centre is to be established. RIA has been a strong advocate of the need for such a centre, which will bring together industry expertise to support the development of transport systems technologies spanning the rail, road and marine sectors.

Francis How, RIA’s Technical Director, said: “We have been working for over a year with colleagues in RSSB, Network Rail and ATOC to develop the concepts for a Catapult centre. It is immensely rewarding to see that the Technology Strategy Board supports the arguments that we and colleagues in the road and marine sectors have advocated.

“The Catapult centre has the potential to deliver considerable benefit for the supply industry in this country by facilitating the development of advanced technology applications for transport systems both in the UK and internationally”, Francis continued. “The expected focus of the Catapult centre on “intelligent mobility” applications is particularly welcome, and will help to position the UK as a technology leader in this field, supporting economic growth as well as enabling better end-to-end journeys for users of transport systems around the world.” 

Download the RIA press release

Further investment planned

The Technology Strategy Board has also committed to invest over £50 million of its budget in five important areas of research that were not included in the current phase of Catapult centre funding:

  • Photonics,
  • Sensors,
  • Smart Grids,
  • Resource Efficiency and
  • Complex Systems.     
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