Connected Places Catapult set to accelerate smarter living and travelling

Connected Places Catapult officially launches as the newly combined Future Cities and Transport Systems Catapult.

The Connected Places Catapult, a new organisation which combines the Transport Systems and Future Cities Catapults, has officially begun operations. The new Connected Places Catapult will accelerate smarter living and travelling, in and between the places of tomorrow. The new Catapult will grow businesses with innovations in mobility services and the built environment, that enable new levels of physical, digital and social connectedness – driving even faster growth for the UK economy.

The Connected Places Catapult will focus on working across boundaries, bureaucracies, public and private sectors, on a whole system approach to achieve this goal. Like the legacy organisations before it, the new Catapult will engage academic networks, diverse SME ecosystems, business and government departments as it seeks to foster new markets, boost demand for innovation and increase the supply of proven products and services across transport, cities, towns and villages.

The global market opportunity for firms that develop, service and sustain urban settlements is already estimated to be worth $500bn and is expected to double by 2023. The closely related global markets for connected autonomous transport and new mobility services are estimated to value £581bn and £525bn respectively by 2030.

The Connected Places Catapult will operate out of innovation hubs in London, Milton Keynes, Glasgow and Leeds, as part of an elite network of not-for-profit technology and innovation centres established and overseen by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The new Catapult is headed by Nicola Yates OBE who commented:

“We know that cities and towns thrive on their ability to connect people – to resources, opportunities, ideas and to each other. The smooth flow of people, goods and services into, around and between places is a vital component of economic success and wellbeing.  Ensuring that flow is a significant commercial opportunity for innovative businesses.

The Connected Places Catapult will deliver all that was promised by the founding centres and more. We will help British businesses address the grand challenges of today – including the future of mobility, clean growth, ageing society and the use of data – in order to create Connected Places, fit for the future.”

Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair, Innovate UK said:

The new Catapult will combine the expertise of the Future Cities and Transport Systems Catapults to provide a world-class offer to UK companies and help keep the UK at the forefront of urban and transport innovation.”


Legacy of the Transport Systems and Future Cities Catapults

The Connected Places Catapult builds on a foundation of success. Since 2013, the Future Cities and Transport Systems Catapults have each worked with businesses, academics, regulators and place leaders to drive commercialisation and business growth in their respective sectors. Notable successes include:

  • Establishing globally-recognised innovation hubs in London and Milton Keynes where businesses, academics, place leaders and entrepreneurs come together to create new solutions to problems; generating new knowledge and market insights in over 150 sector-shaping reports.
  • Working with over 715 SMEs, more than 120 academic institutions and facilitated 234 technology demonstrators to trial innovative products and services.
  • Demonstrating the world’s first autonomous vehicle on public space (the LUTZ Pathfinder project), generating £110m advertising value equivalent and stimulating an additional £435m investment, raising the profile of the UK as a global hub for the research, development and integration of automated and connected vehicles into society.
  • Accelerating the use of new technology in city planning through the drive to digitise processes in the planning system – something MHCLG officials said, “simply could not [have been] done by government alone”.
  • Identifying and promoting key areas where the UK can compete in the emerging global market for Intelligent Mobility Market, set to be worth £900bn by 2025.
  • Growing markets for AI and data analytics, including work with airports to demonstrate how data sharing can save the sector £42m through reduced fuel burn and operational efficiencies,17 and work with UK SMEs and Belfast City Council to develop a new, scalable revenue collection service now bought by councils across the region.
  • Arguing successfully for the commercial benefits of opening up of geospatial data, leading to the creation for the Geospatial Commission and the release of additional Ordnance Survey data under open license.
  • Spearheading the digital infrastructure and innovation strand of the Belfast Region City Deal, bringing industry, academia and local authorities together around a shared proposal to HM Treasury, resulting in a £350m investment by the UK Government and an equal sum from the Northern Ireland Executive.
  • Creating the Intelligent Mobility Accelerator in partnership with Wayra UK (part of Telefónica), which has already led to companies accessing £8.25m of funding and winning over £1.6m in new commercial contracts.