Meet the innovators

Innovating isn’t easy. It’s risky, it’s fraught with failure, and there’s no guarantees of success. In this episode we meet two companies that have had to navigate the innovation rollercoaster to get to where they are.

Both companies have been supported by the Connected Places Catapult at various points in their journey. They have each developed two ground-breaking products and collected some great stories to tell along the way.

Our in-house journalist, Mike Walter, spoke to Eugene Bari, the CEO and Managing Director of Ecomar Propulsion and Dr Victoria Kroll, CEO & co-founder of Esitu Solutions.

Ecomar Propulsion builds zero emission propulsion systems for the maritime industry, whilst Esitu Solutions is on a mission to improve road safety and reduce the number of driving accidents using virtual reality technology.

Theme music on this episode is by Phill Ward Music (

Show notes

To read the full article on Ecomar Propulsion or Esitu Solutions, click on the link. To read more articles in our ‘Meet the Innovator’ series, click here.

To register for our inaugural Connected Places Summit, being held in London on 20-21 March 2024, click here.

To find out more about what we do at the Connected Places Catapult and to hear about the latest news, events and announcements, visit and do sign up to our newsletter!

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Full transcript is available here.


Smart City Expo World Congress 2023

Welcome to the new urban era

When and where?

FIRA, Barcelona and online
7th - 9th November 2023
9:00am - 6:00pm


This event is now complete

Visit the UK Pavilion Powered by Connected Places Catapult in Hall P1, stand 61, to discover exciting technological innovation from partners from across the UK.

Sam Markey, our Ecosystem Director, Place Leadership, will co-host an insight-rich event on innovation-friendly procurement with pioneering place leaders from across the world, on the UK Pavilion on Tuesday, 7 November, from 14:00.

On Wednesday, 8 November, our Principal Place Development Leader, Catherine Hadfield, will Chair a session on the role of Innovation Districts in the digital future of cities and regions, from noon.


Decarbonisation and automation innovators join Maritime Accelerator as Royal Navy confirms support

AI supply chain management, autonomous security drones and emission reduction technologies are among the innovations selected to receive expert support.

Connected Places Catapult, the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport, and place leadership, today announced the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) selected to take part in the 2023 Maritime Accelerator.

The companies selected are developing technologies that respond to challenges in the sector around automation and decarbonisation. These areas of focus were identified by the programme partners: DP World Southampton; Houlder; Maersk; the National Shipbuilding Office; Port of Tyne; Serco and the University of Plymouth. These partners have recently been joined by the Royal Navy, which has agreed to provide support to SMEs on the accelerator.

“The Royal Navy is a major user of the UK’s port facilities and maintains an active interest in the development of new technologies that can give our vessels, operations and supporting infrastructure a strategic advantage. By collaborating with Connected Places Catapult we hope to provide subject matter experts on the Accelerator with valuable access and insights to help them develop their innovations.”
Commodore John Voyce, Commanding Officer of HM Naval Base Portsmouth

Over the next three months, the cohort of SMEs will receive bespoke business development, investment readiness and technical support from Connected Places Catapult. They will also gain access to expertise and insights from the programme partners, and an opportunity to explore and design trials with them, funded through the accelerator where applicable.

Meet the SMEs selected for the Maritime Accelerator:

Cargo Stream UK provides a platform that encompasses essential management and integrates AI for the maritime and land transportation industries.

Geospatial Insight brings together data analytics with satellite imagery to help clients in the maritime sector to monitor air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.

Mission Zero Technologies develops negative emissions solutions to recover CO₂ from the atmosphere for circular use or permanent removal.

PurEmissions has developed filtration technology that allows vessels and ports to meet strict emission limits and reduce their carbon footprint.

Unitrove Innovation provides zero emission fuelling infrastructure such as green liquid hydrogen, green compressed gaseous hydrogen and renewable electricity for maritime applications.

Unmanned Life has developed a software platform known as U-Security that deploys autonomous drones for security surveillance at port facilities.

“Decarbonisation and operational efficiency through automation are top of the agenda for many companies in the maritime sector and the UK has a rich tradition of leading the way in the development of new maritime technologies. Working with our partners, we’re helping the sector to continue this tradition by supporting innovative companies to rise to today’s challenges and build tomorrow’s solutions.”
Mark Wray, Ecosystem Director for Maritime and Ports at Connected Places Catapult
Maritime Accelerator 2023 Cohort Brochure
File Type: pdfFile size: 2.1MB

Carbon reduction champions shortlisted in National Highways programme

Innovative low carbon approaches to road construction and maintenance will receive funding and business support.
Group photo of Accelerator cohort

Seven companies have been selected to join a carbon reduction competition organised by National Highways and Connected Places Catapult.

Innovative ideas put forward to proceed to the second phase of the National Highways Accelerating Low Carbon Innovation Programme include a climbing robot that carries out structural inspections, ‘smart fibre’ plastic bridge beams that monitor structural performance and low carbon fencing materials.

Each shortlisted company will receive between £15,000 and £30,000 to develop their proposals in collaboration with National Highways and several Tier 1 suppliers. Connected Places Catapult will provide coaching, help with marketing strategy and investment support.

The seven companies and their ideas making it through to the next stage of the competition are:

Asset International Structures (Cwmbran) – Developing smart fibre reinforced plastic bridge beams that incorporate optical fibre, enabling structural performance monitoring in real time.

Circular11 (Ferndown) – Providing durable, low carbon fencing and acoustic insulation products; turning mixed low-grade plastic waste into composite material.

HausBots (Birmingham) – Delivering a series of structural inspections using a unique climbing and crawling robot fitted with inspection sensors.

Loopcycle (London) – Creation of a whole life carbon measurement and circular economy tool for use across highway estate assets.

Low Carbon Materials (Seaham) – Delivering a carbon negative aggregate for use in carbon neutral asphalt.

PRG (Scotland) (Hamilton) – Turning waste tyres into useful materials such as a bitumen-like substance for use in road construction and repairs.

Xeroc (London) ­­–­­ Recycling old concrete into new concrete, returning each component to its original form with as little contamination as possible.

Alex Weedon, Executive Director, Connected Places Catapult, SME Development and Academic Engagement said: “National Highways’ goal of achieving net zero emissions involves finding innovative solutions to support decarbonisation, particularly in the maintenance and construction of the strategic road network.

“Connected Places Catapult is proud to have been chosen as a delivery partner for this accelerator project. We look forward to supporting the SMEs in the development of their solutions, and turning bright ideas into commercial products and services.”
Alex Weedon, Executive Director, Connected Places Catapult, SME Development and Academic Engagement

National Highways aims for its maintenance and road construction activities to generate net zero emissions by 2040.

The competition set four challenges for innovative companies to address with their new ideas: alternative materials; decision making enablers for asset management and the whole life value of assets; enablers for the circular economy; and an open challenge.

“We want to speed up innovation within our sector and adopt new solutions. The innovation accelerator will help take potential solutions and drive them through the research and testing phases.”
Dr Joanna White, National Highways Roads Development Director
National Highways Accelerating Low Carbon Innovation Programme Cohort Brochure
File Type: pdfFile size: 20.5MB

Unlocking the value chain of shared electric two-wheelers in India

Helping to promote a shift towards shared micro-mobility, and highlighting the leading role which city governments can play by partnering with the private sector.

Connected Places Catapult has been funded by the UK Government via Innovate UK to support an Indian city to pilot and scale a shared electric micro-mobility (shared two wheel electric vehicle) solution and sustainable business model. 

Through this project we will collaborate with New Town, a planned satellite city within the Kolkata Metropolitan Area in West Bengal, and the New Town Kolkata Development Authority to design and deliver a pilot project which will demonstrate and refine a solution in partnership with the private sector. 


A greener approach to travel 

 Shared micro-mobility models are being adopted by cities across the world to shift trips to a greener mode of transport to help cities meet emissions reduction targets.  

A study in Paris estimated that shared e-bikes could reduce transport emissions in cities by 23 tonnes of CO2 in a month. In addition, these models offer the potential to improve both air quality and transport accessibility. 

In contrast to some private sector electric micro-mobility initiatives, the model we will develop will be designed to integrate with the city’s wider transport planning objectives. We will use a data-driven approach to ensure it serves the right areas of the city and target groups, and design the pilot to test and validate the operational and commercial model such that the solution can then be deployed at scale.  

The Catapult team along with locally based partners will focus on convening relevant stakeholders to help create solutions, and design a pilot scheme with a view to enabling it to be scaled up and be commercially self-sustaining. 

They will also look to design and implement a suitable means of data collection, and promote the innovative pilot to showcase its impact to the Indian government and its potential for deployment elsewhere. 


Contact the project team 

If you’d like to work with us or find out more, please email or  


Connected Places Networking Reception at UKREiiF

Join local government, built environment leaders, and regional, national and international investors to close Day 1 UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF)

When and where?

Royal Armouries Museum, Armouries Drive, Leeds, England, LS10 1LT
16th May 2023
5:45pm - 8:30pm


This event is now complete

Connected Places Catapult is pleased to invite you to the Connected Places Networking Reception, an official UKREiiF event.

Meet existing and new key stakeholders and industry experts, national and international local government, investment community and built environment stakeholders driving the levelling up agenda, innovation and green finance. You’ll learn more about the Cities Commission for Climate Investment (3Ci) and Connected Places Catapult flagship initiatives in the levelling up and green finance agenda.

Venue: The Royal Armouries Museum, Armouries Drive, LS10 1LT, Leeds
Room: The Tournament Gallery

Places are limited to 200 attendees only. If you would like to attend please register your interest as soon as possible and we will get back to you if you have been successful.

Please note that to attend this reception you need to have a valid UKREiiF delegate pass. If you don’t, unfortunately you won’t be able to attend.

Cllr Susan Aitken
Leader of Glasgow City Council
Susan Aitken was elected as Leader of Glasgow City Council in 2017, forming a Scottish National Party (SNP) led City ...
Susan Aitken was elected as Leader of Glasgow City Council in 2017, forming a Scottish National Party (SNP) led City Government in the first change of political administration in Glasgow in 40 years. She was first elected as a councillor for the Langside ward (where she lives with her husband) in 2012, following a career in public policy and communications in the third sector and the Scottish Parliament, and as a freelance writer and editor specialising in social care issues. Susan was reappointed to a second term as Council Leader following the 2022 Scottish Local Government elections.


Under her leadership, Glasgow has hosted the UN Climate Summit COP26, which led to the formation of the Glasgow Climate Pact; was awarded Global Green City status by the Global Forum on Human Settlements in 2020; has been named host of the inaugural UCI World Cycling Championships during its year as 2023 European Capital of Sport; and secured host status for the World Indoor Athletics Championships in 2024.

Susan was awarded Scottish Local Politician of the Year in 2019 for her work to end historic gender pay discrimination and deliver compensation for thousands of women Council workers. She was also awarded Scottish Council Leader of the Year in 2021 for her leadership on climate issues, including plans to remove private car use in the core of Glasgow city centre by 2025. Susan was selected as one of 40 global city leaders for the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative Class of 2023.

Nicola Yates OBE
Chief Executive Officer
Connected Places Catapult
As CEO of Connected Places Catapult, Nicola Yates OBE works to put UK innovators, businesses and places at a competitive ...
As CEO of Connected Places Catapult, Nicola Yates OBE works to put UK innovators, businesses and places at a competitive advantage at home and overseas. Nicola led the creation of Connected Places Catapult through the merger of the Future Cities Catapult (of which she was CEO) and the Transport Systems Catapult in 2019.

With experience leading two major British cities (Bristol and Hull) as well as a rural Midlands district, Nicola is an expert in building visionary ‘roundtable partnerships’ which are key to cultivating successful places, and understands the power of technology to transform the destiny of local economies. In 2018, she harnessed these skills to broker the ground-breaking Belfast City Region Deal which secured more than half a billion in investment and an estimated £2 billion GVA benefit to Northern Ireland’s innovation economy.

In addition to sparking the innovation potential of places, Nicola has expertise in accelerating net zero transition. Whilst CEO at Hull City Council, she helped catalyse the Humber clean energy cluster, and under her leadership Bristol was the first UK city to be named European Green Capital, delivering one of the most technologically-enabled programmes to date.

Nicola is currently a trustee for the independent policy think tank ‘Centre for Cities’ and is a member of SOLACE (the Society for Local Authority Chief Executives) and the Chartered Institute of Housing. She has featured in the Local Government Chronicle’s ‘Top 50 most influential figures in local government’ and was awarded ‘Woman Achiever in Housing’. In 2010, Nicola received an OBE for services to local government.

Greg Clark CBE
He is chair of the Connected Places Catapult (CPC), the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport and place-leadership, ...
He is chair of the Connected Places Catapult (CPC), the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport and place-leadership, and Chair of the UK Cities Commission for Climate Investment (3Ci) which convenes city leaders and urban investors to finance a just net zero transition. He is a Board member of Transport for London (TfL) and the London LEP. He chairs TfL’s new Land and Property Committee that oversees TfL low carbon property and housing company (TTLP).  He is a member of the WEF Global Future Council on Cities & Urbanisation and a member of the Bloomberg NEF Council on Cities.  He is Hon Prof of Urban Innovation at Strathclyde University and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He is author of 10 books and 100 reports on cities, innovation, investment and place-leadership. His monthly column: The Planet of Cities, is hosted by RICS. He is Global Cities expert on the BBC World Service Series, My Perfect City.

Greg is a world expert on cities, urban innovation, investment, and the net zero transition. Over 35 years, he has worked with more than 300 cities, 40 national governments, 20 multilateral institutions, and multiple global corporates and investors. His previous roles include Group Advisor, Future Cities & New Industries at HSBC Investment Bank, Chair of the OECD Forum of Cities & Regions, Global Fellow on Cities and Metropolitan leadership at the Brookings Institution, and Global Fellow on Urban Investment at the Urban land Institute. He was Lead Advisor on Cities to the UK Gov, and was Executive Director of the London Development Agency and Managing Director of Greater London Enterprise. He has been a senior advisor on urban investment to the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and the European Investment Bank.

He has chaired more than 20 internal advisory boards for individual cities that are reformulating their future investment strategies, long term plans, and governance, including New York, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Sydney, Auckland, Barcelona, Vienna, and Oslo. He has led comparative studies on Chinese, Australian, European, North American, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Chinese, ASEAN, and Indian Cities.  Since 2020 he has been tracking the impact of the COVID pandemic on 100 cities globally, and has developed a unique framework for assessing the post-pandemic city.

Georgia Gould
Councillor for Kentish Town Ward
Camden Council
Georgia Gould was elected a Councillor for Kentish Town ward for Camden Council in 2010 at the age of 24. ...
Georgia Gould was elected a Councillor for Kentish Town ward for Camden Council in 2010 at the age of 24. After holding a range of Cabinet portfolios, she became Leader in 2017 and as Leader has made citizen voice, participation and co-production a priority for the organisation. Under her leadership the Council held the country’s first Climate Emergency Citizens Assembly in 2019 to inform the response to our climate and ecological emergency. Georgia is Chair of London Councils and Co-Chair of the London Recovery Taskforce as well as a member of the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP) Board. @Georgia_Gould
Day 1
16th May
Registration and Networking
Welcome from Connected Place Catapult
Welcome from 3Ci
Reflection from Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council
Reflection from Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council
Networking drinks and refreshments
Event close

Innovations sought to help National Highways on road to net zero

Applications to a National Highways competition seeking new approaches to reducing emissions associated with road construction and maintenance are now open.

Funding to develop innovative trials of net zero carbon approaches to road construction and maintenance will be offered to up to ten small to medium sized businesses in a competition launched today by National Highways and Connected Places Catapult.

Phase one of the National Highways Accelerating Low Carbon Innovation Programme will see winning UK based firms awarded between £15,000 and £30,000 each to develop feasibility studies in collaboration with the strategic road operator and its tier one suppliers.

Phase two will see further funding of up to £80,000 provided to support a selected number of organisations to trial their solutions.

Applicants are invited to put forward proposals that address at least one of three challenges:

  • Development or application of alternative materials and techniques;
  • Innovations that can improve asset management decision-making;
  • Innovations which can contribute to reusing, redeploying and recycling construction materials and assets.

There is also an open challenge category for other ideas that can contribute to National Highways’ target of zero emissions in maintenance and construction by 2040.

Up to five larger tier one organisations will also be selected to develop net zero solutions either on their own or in collaboration with an SME, but will not be eligible for funding as part of the programme.

Firms interested in putting themselves forward for the competition have until midnight on 30 April to enter.

The aim of the competition is to reach a wider pool of innovators, exploring firms with potential outside of National Highways’ existing supply chain, that promise to make a difference in lowering its carbon footprint.

“National Highways’ Accelerating Low Carbon Innovation Programme is open to companies of all sizes – from tier one firms developing solutions in-house or collaborating with SMEs, to smaller businesses who do not always get the chance to interface with large clients – to showcase their innovative ideas and see how they can be scaled up.”
Connected Places Catapult’s Executive Director for SME Development & Academic Engagement, Alex Weedon

The innovation accelerator seeks to take new materials and solutions described as being ‘low maturity’ and put them through a consistent, standardised process of prioritisation, feasibility and initial trialling, with the aim of assessing viability for wider testing and adoption.

Successful firms will be offered coaching and help with marketing strategy and investment support, as well as trial design training, deployment support, trial monitoring and evaluation. There will also be the chance to take part in a demonstration day for investors, industry and potential customers and ten months’ tailored business support.

“We want to speed up innovation within our sector and adopt new solutions. The innovation accelerator will help take potential solutions and drive them through the research and testing phases.”
National Highways Roads Development Director, Dr Joanna White

8th annual Sustainability Week

Empowering businesses to accelerate action on sustainability

Join over 1000 leaders, businesses, financiers, investors, NGOs and policymakers in London and more than 4,500 attendees online to ensure you are part of the sustainable future.


MK Accelerator Cohort Booklet


Sustainable Innovation Forum at COP27

Be part of the COP journey by joining us.

Together with Climate action we have created a discussion panel titled From Global to Local: “Climate change will be won and lost in cities”. You will hear from 3Ci speakers such as Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol or Susan Aitken, Councillor of Glasgow how we can maximise collaboration between cities to ignite new global innovations and how cities are driving systematic change using innovative financing techniques, smart policies and digital technologies to develop a climate smart and resilient built environment.

The panel will be screened live on Thursday 10 November 2022 at 12:25.

Don’t miss out this important discussion and register to hear more.