Innovation Zero 2024

The UK's largest net-zero congress

When and where?

Olympia London
30th - 1st May 2024
9:00am - 5:00pm


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We are delighted to once again participate in Innovation Zero, and we’re contributing to a number of sessions, including: 

Andrew Chadwick, Ecosystem Director, Air Mobility & Airports, joining the Fuelling Flight: Hydrogen session on 1 May at 11:45.

Alison Young, Head of Global Investment, joining the session on Funding the Automotive Transformation, on 1 May at 12:25 in the Transport & Mobility Forum.


Connected North 2024

Delivering the North's Connected Future

When and where?

Manchester Central
22nd - 23rd April 2024
9:00am - 5:00pm


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We are hosting a Digital Twin Hub session on Day 1, 22 April at 2pm, titled ‘Digital twins driving innovation in the North – Explore innovative projects that look to catapult the North of the UK into a bright digital future’. Join Nury Moreira, Community Manager of Digital Twin Hub, and other speakers for an inspiring conversation.


UKREiiF 2024

The UK's Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure Forum

When and where?

21st - 23rd May 2024
9:00am - 5:00pm


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This year, we are proud to host our own Pavilion, a place designed to showcase real innovation, and provide opportunities to connect with thought leaders, and UK and global peers.

To review our full Agenda of sessions and activities taking place over the three days and plan your visit, please head to the UKREiiF website > Programme tab > Download Programme or > Click on the Connected Places Catapult Pavilion dot to browse online.

Make sure to visit our Pavilion in Pavilion Square, we look forward to connecting with you in Leeds! 


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


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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.


Northern England moves forward on levelling up and breaking barriers down

Senior politicians, business leaders, students and Catapult staff rubbed shoulders at a major conference and exhibition in Manchester at the end of January which championed the Levelling Up agenda and promoted career opportunities.

Several hundred delegates had gathered for the ‘Convention of the North’ event to hear Government Minister Michael Gove and his opposition counterpart Lisa Nandy MP speak about the prospects for and need to promote economic growth in northern England. 

But creative ideas really came to life in a large room along the corridor in which guests were free to mingle. Representatives from Connected Places Catapult partnered with the Power Collective CIC – a professional mentoring network aimed at encouraging social mobility and led by Simone Roche MBE, the founder of Northern Power Women. The stand they shared welcomed local mayors Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester) and Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City Region) to give their views. 

Also in attendance were data science students from Salford University and creative media students from Burnley College, who were invited to gain a fuller understanding of how businesses operate and the range of job opportunities on offer through speed mentoring with business leaders from the community. 

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region
“Connected Places Catapult is right behind the Levelling Up agenda. Research and development spend to drive innovation is not equally spread across the UK and coming to an event like this means we can hear what people and politicians are saying and provide support accordingly.” 
Alex Cousins, Business Director for Devolved Government

“Innovations and new ideas that the Catapult enable are crucial to helping northern communities to prosper,” added Alex. “We are also talking to young people about the importance of networking. Many jobs in future will be in brand new industries that we are working with business academia and civic leaders to create, so the best thing students can do now is to build their networks and find out more about the world of work. 

Students ask the questions 

Among the students on the stand was a group from Burnley College interviewing and filming mentors and mentees associated with the Power Collective networking group, as well as local Mayors. 

One of those asking the questions was Harrison Pearce, who wanted to know from those being mentored what they will take away from the day. He also asked mentors what advice they have for students, and local Mayors for their thoughts on how having young people at such events can help promote the Levelling Up agenda. 

“Everyone we’ve spoken to has been very positive,” Harrison said. “Today it feels we are being treated more like professionals than students.” 

Industry engagement specialist from the college Fiona Gibson said the students will benefit greatly from taking part in Convention of the North. “They are putting into practice the theory they are learning, gaining confidence and will be empowered to pursue career paths with more knowledge and insight.” 

Simone Roche MBE addresses event delegates
“We are blessed with so many amazing people here today and have mentors from many professional sectors who are helping to bring the world of work to life. We are also helping to bust the myth that it is ‘Grim Up North’.  
Simone Roche MBE, Founder of Northern Power Women and the Power Collective

Catapult out in force

At the event the Connected Places Catapult took the chance to raise awareness of its work, including its involvement in the Inclusive Innovation Network and the UK Innovation Districts Group through which best practice is shared to help build an inclusive innovation economy. It also promoted ‘Joining the Dots’ – a peer to peer learning partnership between civic leaders in the UK and Ireland. 

Members of Connected Places Catapult present in Manchester included Place Development Lead Catherine Hadfield, who was there as one of several mentors to younger people. 

L-R: Alex Cousins, Catherine Hadfield, Philly Strahan, Simon Smith

“I spoke with students about the transferable skills and innovation opportunities that their project management and data science degrees bring, and how they can be applicable in any field,” she said. “Being at Convention of the North was an important opportunity for these students to understand how their skills can be applied to tackle some of the challenges and harness the opportunities in the north of England, and to network with key employers.” 

Alex Cousins is interviewed by students

Inclusive Innovation Network Lead Simon Smith heard how policies connect with work taking place in cities, and was keen to see how people can best be supported at the start of their careers. “A phrase I’ve heard a lot is ‘inclusive growth starts from the ground up’ and that is key to me,” he said. “Amplifying what’s happening on the ground and innovative projects that deliver impact and forming policy are what the Inclusive Innovation Network was set up to do. ” 

Simon added that the Convention of the North resembled recent COP climate change conferences, where “key decisions are made and deals are done on the floor” to – in this case – further advance the north of England. 

UK Innovation Districts Group Manager Philly Strahan said the event was a chance to engage in “shared discussion and collaboration” and to stress the importance of co-designing urban improvements with communities involved. 

“It has been great to hear leaders across local and devolved governments recognise the need to involve people on the ground to problem solve locally and tap into the passion and enthusiasm that already exists,” she said. 

Rachael Bampton-Aiken, who runs the Joining the Dots programme, supported the findings of think tank IPPR, which recently published a report highlighting a lack of investment in northern England. It said if the North was a country, it would be second only to Greece in terms of low levels of investment among 39 countries. 

“Joining the Dots delivered a masterclass with colleagues across the UK and Ireland here in Manchester in November. The event was focused on the changing nature of foreign and direct investment with leading academics and think tanks, especially focused around research and development and its importance for the economy. The IPPR report reiterates what the Joining the Dots collective explored.” 
Rachael Bampton-Aiken, Joining the Dots programme

Connected Places Catapult will be back in Manchester for the 2023 Northern Power Women Awards on 20 March, which celebrates the achievements of cross sector role models and organisations in industry and where Connected Places Catapult is sponsoring the Inclusive Innovation award. 


Station Innovation Zone Application Support and Information Webinar

Join us on 21st October for the Station Innovation Zone Application Support & Information Webinar

When and where?

Online event
21st October 2022
2:00pm - 3:30pm


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Connected Places Catapult is proud to be delivering the Station Innovation Zone competition.

We are seeking up to 10 Innovators with technology, products and services which can improve passenger experience when travelling through stations. You will get the chance to collaborate with the station and experts to design a trial proposal. The best proposals will then be taken forward to trial in a publicly managed UK Station.

This webinar will provide details regarding the specific challenges the competition will address and will guide potential applicants through the bid submission process. Attendees will have the chance to ask questions and seek support to help build a strong application.

Challenge areas

  • Safe Station – How might we enhance safety at the station through improved station operations?
  • Seamless Station – How might we improve the provision of customer information, by tailoring it to passengers’ needs and adapting it at times of disruption?
  • Social Station – How might the station be a great place to spend time for passengers and local communities, whilst functioning as a transport hub?

The World Cities Summit

International conference on public governance and the sustainable development of cities.

When and where?

31st - 3rd August 2022
9:00am - 6:00pm


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The World Cities Summit (WCS) is an international conference series on public governance and the sustainable development of cities. This is an opportunity for government leaders and industry experts to address liveable and sustainable city challenges, share integrated urban solutions and forge new partnerships.

Connected Places Catapult is pleased to become a strategic partner of the World Cities Summit which is being hosted by our partner the Centre for Liveable Cities.

Join us in person to hear from Nicola Yates OBE, our Chief Executive Officer who will give an overview of the global urban city sustainability landscape at the Tomorrow’s Sustainable Cities Today event. The discussion panel will be run by our partner Mastercard City Possible on Tuesday, 2 August, 14:00-15:00.

Also, Prof Greg Clark CBE FAcSS, Chair of Connected Places Catapult and 3Ci (Cities Commission for Climate Investment) will run the Sunday Mayor’s Forum and the Green Finance Track of the main Summit.

To book a meeting with us contact Elena Williams from our Global Team at


Connected Places Catapult partners with Mastercard’s City Possible Network to drive Urban Transformation

Mastercard and Connected Places Catapult today jointly announced at the World Urban Forum that they have signed an MOU to join Mastercard City Possible network.

City Possible, pioneered by Mastercard, is a partnership and co-creation initiative that brings cities, companies, and communities together to identify common challenges and co-develop solutions that advance inclusive and sustainable urban development.

Connected Places Catapult is the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport, and places. The Catapult provides impartial ‘innovation as a service’ for mobility and built environment businesses, infrastructure providers and public institutions to catalyse step-change improvements in the way people live, work and travel.

The MoU lays the foundations for the partnership to accelerate the adoption of innovative solutions in cities worldwide, using a people centred approach that will leverage synergies between Mastercard’s City Possible platform and the Catapult’s expertise, ecosystem, and past successes. To design and deliver such solutions, the partnership will explore, identify, and design opportunities to connect cities and public sector entities through engaging the global urban innovation ecosystem and opening new markets.

The two organisations recently met in Johannesburg and Cape Town to meet the cities, attend African Tech Week.  Through workshop with key stakeholders in the region, they are looking at the opportunity that accelerating the way we use data to tackle city challenges with a community of innovators.

Further announcements will follow on upcoming projects and opportunities.

“The signing of the memorandum between Connected Places Catapult and Mastercard aligns with the Catapult’s efforts to partner with world leading global organisation to create real impact of cities by implementing innovative solution to current and future challenges they may face. We are excited by the partnership and look forward to working with City Possible to ensure we can create scalable, impactful change to the challenges our cities and places are facing.”
Guilherme Johnston, Head of Global Partnerships, Connected Places Catapult

Milton Keynes Council selects 10 SMEs for innovation programme to support green recovery and local resilience

Ten innovative SMEs have been selected for the new Milton Keynes Accelerator; a six-month programme sponsored by Milton Keynes Council and powered by Connected Places Catapult. The programme is designed to tackle local and regional challenges, sourcing and selecting a cohort of disruptive SMEs to test and scale new technologies, whilst developing new opportunities for Milton Keynes and surrounding areas and positively impacting the local economy. 

The SMEs will receive support tailored to their requirements. This will include advice and guidance on investment readiness, technology and product development, alongside introductions to local stakeholders and potential customers. The aim is to accelerate time to market through technology trials which will utilise Milton Keynes’ state of the art 5G testbed, as well as roads and other public spaces which the Council will also consider making available to the SMEs.  

Activities will be delivered by a consortium of industry and delivery partners led by Connected Places Catapult. The consortium includes delivery partner True Altitude and industry partners Amey, Centre MK, Socius Group and Elisa among others.  

The SMEs selected for the programme will support Milton Keynes’ ambitious commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030 and address challenges related to sustainable mobility, renewable energy and air quality, as well as infrastructure resilience and community engagement. They are as follows:

  • Active OrbitGetting people more active by rewarding them for walking / cycling. 
  • Dock Lock ChargeUsing our universal solution for docking and charging E-bikes and E-Scooters, we work on designing and implementing the right Micromobility strategy for our clients. 
  • KarfuKarfu is an online platform that helps consumers save money and uncover the financial and environmental costs of their mobility choices, beyond private car ownership, by showcasing more sustainable alternatives. 
  • Kerbo ChargeKerbo Charge solves the problem of how to charge your electric car at home if you don’t have access to off-street parking. 
  • PluvoPluvo develops and deploys solutions that actively monitor and remove airborne pollutants from the built environment at scale, helping our partners create healthier and safer spaces to breath in. 
  • Skenario Labs Use huge property and financial datasets to help local authorities, property owners, managers, investors and insurers make more responsible decisions around investment and sustainability for their portfolios. 
  • Step-HearStep-Hear is an accurate wayfinding system for people with blindness or visual impairment, providing also assistance by IoT for people with disabilities and a smart interactive system for public transportation. 
  • The Future FoxCommunity engagement and insight for citizen-led places. 
  • Urban TideHelp cities monitor transport emissions and improve cycling routes and enable energy companies to share data to reduce fuel poverty and energy use. They do this with uSmart, our AI innovation platform and their unique AI portfolio. 
  • OthershipOthership gives the freedom to work how and where you want. The perfect workspace solution, tailored to you and your business. 
“Milton Keynes has been at the forefront of many innovations and has invested significantly in the development of a sustainable economy, which is why we are thrilled to have partnered with the Council once again to launch this brand-new accelerator. We look forward to supporting the SMEs on the programme and seeing how their disruptive technologies are tested and implemented in the city in the coming months.”
Alex Weedon, Executive Director SME Development & Academic Engagement, Connected Places Catapult
“We’re delighted to see some great businesses on the programme which will help everyone in MK learn invaluable lessons through real-time testing. They will have access to industry experts who will take their vision and help them turn it into reality. We’ve got big hopes for the Accelerator and expect these business to take major strides as we work together towards making our city even greener and better connected.” 
Cllr Pete Marland, Leader of MK Council

Opening the Innovation Economy: The case for inclusive innovation in the UK

New research explores how places can help spread prosperity by making the innovation economy more inclusive.

In February 2022, the UK Government’s Levelling Up White Paper set out a mission to increase expenditure on public research and development outside the Greater South East by at least 40% by 2030. It also outlined plans for new Innovation Accelerators in Glasgow, the West Midlands, and Greater Manchester.

To understand how, as part of the levelling-up agenda, places right across the UK can deliver truly inclusive innovation, the UK Innovation Districts Group and Connected Places Catapult commissioned research. A team, led by Metro Dynamics and Professor Neil Lee, explored the dynamics of innovation in local economies through interviews with people leading and working in innovation districts across the UK.  The conversations covered how districts are delivering inclusive innovation on the ground, from involving local communities in setting their strategies to employment and training opportunities.

From this research, the report:

  • identifies ten levers that leaders in the private and public sectors can pull to make the process and outputs of innovation more inclusive;
  • highlights a number of successful projects and programmes demonstrating elements of successful inclusive innovation up and down the country; and
  • provides recommendations for key delivery partners including innovation districts, national Government, and local governments.
“Against a backdrop of environmental crisis, post-COVID uncertainty and a rising cost of living, it is more important than ever to widen the funnel of who participates in innovation economies in the UK. This is the only way that we will achieve the additionality and growth that UK communities and economies need.”

‘This research, jointly commissioned by the UK Innovation Districts Group and Connected Places Catapult, has examined where places are successfully doing just that. It is critical that we, as innovation districts leaders and policymakers, understand the building blocks that create thriving, inclusive, and sustainable local innovation economies and how these can be delivered at scale.”
Emma Frost, Chair, UK Innovation Districts Group
“Innovation does not happen in a vacuum; it happens in places and is shaped by people. Inclusive innovation is about making sure that the innovation economy creates opportunities people and communities from all corners of the country – not just in London and the South East.

“We know that innovation currently represents just a fraction of the UK’s economic activity but it has a profound influence on increasing prosperity and future-proofing economic structures. For too many people the prospect of working in innovation is remote, and the benefits of new discoveries are disconnected from their own lives. We need a more inclusive innovation economy to activate the UK’s latent potential.”
Sam Markey, Ecosystem Director - Place Leadership, Connected Places Catapult