Fluent in several languages
Francesca gained a Masters degree in politics, worked in industrial policy in Brussels and is fluent in German, Spanish, English and Italian. Her previous employer championed new satellite technology, grounding her in highly complex digital systems. Starting her new position with the Catapult last year, she found conversing in multiple languages to be a great asset when liaising with freight and logistics specialists across Europe.
“I’m hoping to encourage more young people, career professionals and those with skills in business, construction or technology that a career in freight and logistics is a good idea; because at the moment very few people realise that it is.”
Francesca points out that Connected Places Catapult has just launched a project to help SMEs develop technologies and showcase them to the sector: nine companies have recently been selected for the first cohort of the Catapult’s new ‘Freight Innovation Accelerator’. Logistics specialists from the Catapult will work alongside the small firms, awarding grant funding and helping them navigate one of three challenges for the first accelerator covering intermodal hubs, data collection and sharing, and last mile logistics.
She says recent years have demonstrated how important freight and logistics are to the country. “During the pandemic, we all realised how dependent we are on timely deliveries to our homes, and the Government has highlighted that freight represents a high value opportunity for the UK.”
Challenges that professionals working in the sector can help to address include tackling air pollution caused by lorries, ships and planes as well as ways of making ports and intermodal hubs work more efficiently to ensure the transfer of goods is as swift and seamless as possible.
Technical advances being trialled in maritime freight includes the use of autonomous vehicles in ports, and new ideas are being developed to decarbonise ships such as using hydrogen or solar power. In rail, the Catapult is talking to the Great British Railways Transition Team about how more freight can be transferred to the tracks to reduce road haulage.