Hauser’s original 2010 report called for the creation of seven technology and innovation centres now known as Catapults. Two more are set to open in 2015.
Four years on, business secretary Vince Cable has asked for a follow-up report.
Innovation without commercialisation is like a car without an engine,” Cable said. While the Catapult network has been a success story for British innovation, taking our world-leading capabilities in areas like high value manufacturing and satellite applications to new and promising levels, I want to make sure we are getting enough bang for our buck.”
Although the report included sustained investment in the existing Catapults, more effective engagement with small businesses and a more coherent model for working with universities, Hauser specifically called for a long-term expansion of the network.
Essentially, one or two technology and innovation centres would be created each year, leading to a total of 20 by 2020 and 30 by 2030.
The cost of building such a network is consistent with recent calls to double the Britain’s innovation spend to bring Innovate UKs budget closer to 1bn per annum by 2020.
Hauser said: I have been genuinely surprised at the degree of progress made and impressed by the quality of the people and facilities in the emerging network. The UK is playing catch up with the best innovation systems in the world in translational infrastructure, so I was encouraged to see how rapidly we are closing the gap.
The existing Catapult centres are a great stride forward but they will need continued support to strengthen capability, remain world beating and to expand their capabilities. I urge the Government to maintain the current 1/3 funding model, and commit to expand the network in a measured way adding up to one or two centres a year.
Innovate UK and our Research Councils should be asked to develop a pipeline to incubate new centres in key future technologies that will help drive the UK economy into the global markets that will deliver vibrant economic growth for the UK.
I look forward to seeing a flourishing Catapult network in the decades to come providing the UK with a similar structure in depth as other competitor nations and a long lasting impact to the UKs economic performance.