Digital Catapult Digital Catapult
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101 Euston Road, NW1 2RA, London (United Kingdom)
Advanced digital technologies can accelerate growth and increase productivity across the UK economy. To help reach this full potential Digital Catapult, in 2017 alone, has had meaningful engagements with 638 startups and scaleups, 42 new industrial collaborations and 31 new academic engagements to drive innovation and adoption of advanced digital technologies. To make this happen, Digital Catapult delivers three core technology programmes, across two industry sectors, driven by three regional centres and a national centre in London.
How Digital Catapult promotes development and the early adoption of advanced digital technology
- We provide physical and digital facilities for experimentation and testing that would otherwise not be accessible for smaller companies.
- Our innovation programmes drive collaboration and encourage use of the facilities. By bringing together small companies, corporates, researchers and investors, the right solutions are developed to solve industry challenges, increase productivity and open up new markets faster.
- We connect corporations, small businesses and academic researchers to get the latest thinking into the heart of industry and discover new ways to solve big challenges in the manufacturing and creative industries.
- We convene and deliver collaborative research and development that leads to commercial exploitation and companies reducing risk.
- We leverage public funding to yield increased private investment.
As well as breaking down barriers to technology adoption for startups and scaleups, our work de-risks innovation for large enterprises and uncovers new commercial applications in Immersive, Future Networks, and Artificial Intelligence technologies.
Our technology focus
Digital Catapult specialises in three areas of advanced digital technology namely, Future Networks, Artificial Intelligence and Immersive.
Digital Catapult focuses on these areas because each has demonstrated:
- UK strength in both the research base and startups.
- Accelerating pre-market innovation indicating that the time to act is now.
- A clear global opportunity for UK companies in manufacturing or the creative industries.
- A clear opportunity for Digital Catapult to add value and to speed up the processes of digital transformation.
Artificial Intelligence (AI and machine learning)
Digital Catapult is leading technology adoption in the Industrial Strategy’s AI Grand Challenge, where they call the wide range of technologies, tooling and processes involved ‘AI Plumbing’. Like actual plumbing, AI Plumbing can be complex, risky and expensive. To address these challenges, the Digital Catapult has embarked on a number of initiatives:
- They have started to map the AI Plumbing landscape in order to assist discovery, research and planning tasks. We describe the landscape here, and invite feedback.
- Running their own machine intelligence projects and having DevOps and systems specialists in-house that work with our machine intelligence team to solve them, they will share how they have overcome specific AI challenges in upcoming blogs, along with useful tips and tools for doing the same.
- They host meetups and workshops to illuminate some of the AI Plumbing technologies and strategies.
- They have developed an ethics framework that will help companies to implement responsible AI in practice.
Future Networks (5G and Low Powered Wide Area Networks)
Digital Catapult is driving the development of future networks business models from concept in university labs, to commercial reality with our projects within IoT, 5G and LPWAN that includes Things Connected and the 5G testbed in Brighton.
Immersive (virtual, augmented, mixed reality and haptics)
Digital Catapult is making the UK the best place in the world to produce immersive content and applications through our projects such as CreativeXR, Augmentor the Immersive Labs and the first European volumetric capture studio.
Our industry focus
Advanced digital technologies have huge potential to accelerate growth and increase productivity if they are applied to real-world challenges. Digital Catapult is working within two industry sectors where we believe we can have the most impact by increasing the use of digital technology. These sectors are manufacturing and the creative industries.
Within this our goals are to:
- Accelerate the number of trailblazer companies working with advanced digital technologies.
- Deliver increased applied research, development and innovation in advanced digital technologies.
Digital Catapult is uniquely positioned to bring together the right innovators, academics, corporates and investors to drive early adoption of digital technologies into industry. We run innovation programmes and offer facilities that help to translate world-leading research and innovation into products and services that will transform these industries, increase productivity and secure the UK’s future global competitiveness.
Link to national or regional initiatives for digitising industry
Digital Catapult is aligned with the following RIS3 strategies of England:
- J:Information and Communication Technologies
- J.61 Telecommunications
- D: Digital Transformation
- D.24 Digitising Industry
The activities of the hub are well aligned with the British national initiatives for digitising industry, Digital Strategy and the Green paper on Industrial Strategy.
In 2017 the UK Government published its white paper Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the Future. It announced a number of grand challenges, sector deals and digital infrastructure investments that the Advanced Digital Technology Catapult has both contributed to and incorporated into its own strategy. In particular, this includes:
● The AI & Data Economy Grand Challenge & Artificial Intelligence Sector Deal
● Creative Industries Sector Deal
● Made Smarter UK / Industrial Digitalisation
● 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme
Digital Catapult’s Artificial Intelligence programme and focus on AI adoption across our regional centres is signposted in the Industrial Strategy and in the recently published AI Sector Deal. Our Non-Executive Director, Wendy Hall led the AI Review alongside Jerome Pesenti, and a number of our policy and technology experts contributed to the shaping of the recommendations, representing the technical and business needs of the AI ecosystem in the UK.
We were also consulted for evidence for the Royal Society’s Machine Learning Paper, submitted written and oral evidence to the House of Lords AI Committee and worked closely with the Made Smarter Review on potential applications and opportunities of utilising the technology in an industrial setting.
Digital Catapult also contributed to Sir Peter Bazalgette’s Creative Industries Review, from which the Government is making a major investment of £33m of funding via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to support the Audience of the Future challenge and a £16m programme of investment in projects applying immersive technologies that can then be used as demonstrators to encourage wider uptake.
In the manufacturing industry, Digital Catapult helps Industry to navigate the startup world and worked closely with the Made Smarter Review to reflect the needs of advanced digital technology startups and help to foster a closer working relationship between the manufacturing and digital sectors.
To ensure Digital Catapult delivers regional growth across the country we will work with a number of local authorities that offer significant opportunities for growth in our target programmes, to inform the upcoming local industrial strategies, starting with a pilot partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and delivering additional growth through our regional centres in Bradford, North East & Tees Valley, Brighton and Belfast.
Market and Services
- Manufacture of food products, beverages and tobacco
- Manufacture of textiles and textile products
- Manufacture of leather and leather products
- Manufacture of wood and wood products
- Manufacture of pulp, paper and paper products; publishing and printing
- Other community, social and personal service activities (media, entertainment, etc.)
- Manufacture of coke, refined petroleum products and nuclear fuel
- Manufacture of chemicals, chemical products and man-made fibres
- Manufacture of rubber and plastic products
- Manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products
- Manufacture of basic metals and fabricated metal products
- Manufacture of machinery and equipment
- Manufacture of electrical and optical equipment
- Manufacture of transport equipment
- Other Manufacturing
- Other markets
- TRL5 - Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment
- TRL6 - System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment
- TRL7 - System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- TRL8 - Actual system completed and qualified through test and demonstration
- TRL4 - Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment
- Ecosystem building, scouting, brokerage, networking
- Collaborative Researchs
- Concept validation and prototyping
- Testing and validation
- Incubator/accelerator support
- Market intelligence
- Awareness creation
PixelPin is a cyber security company that provides a unique security advantage by using a picture login, eliminating passwords and their inherent weaknesses.
In 2015, PixelPin responded to an Open Call to work on the EIT-funded Trusted Cloud programme supported by Digital Catapult and BT.
PixelPin’s work with Digital Catapult marked a real turning point for the company. Working with Digital Catapult, the PixelPin team gained access to viable
PixelPin worked with Digital Catapult to develop their pitch for funding. This helped them define who they were and exactly what their offering was. As a security company they needed the right kind of sponsors and backers to demonstrate trust, reliability and provide confidence to investors. They secured £750,000 investment.
Digital Catapult gave PixelPin the necessary focus to develop and provided training on how to manage the company’s growth. PixelPin took this advice to develop their toolset and expanded their development team from two to six.
Seed Funding Through H2020
nquiringminds specialises in Smart Cities, data analytics and the Internet of Things. An award winning company, its products are trusted by universities, councils and the UK Government.
nquiringminds needed help to build on their agricultural concept,and work in a place where they could interact with fellow innovators. They recognised Digital Catapult could assist with both of those requirements.
nquiringminds were developing an early prototype for a technology solution to a worldwide agricultural problem – drying and storing grain optimally. Minimising energy usage, reducing spoilage and increasing yield. This is a problem that nquiringminds is perfectly set up to tackle, combining low cost Internet of Things solutions with advanced Artificial Intelligence powered analytics along with customised hardware.
Digital Catapult worked with nquiringminds to apply for the Euro CPS Seed Funding. The fund’s purpose is to support SMEs looking to develop industrial experiments and innovations. The initial seed fund they secured enabled an eight-month project cycle involving the design, development, deployment and testing of a complete agricultural monitoring system. The seed funding led directly to subsequent project funding totalling 1.5m investment from Innovate UK.
Digital Catapult’s mentors provided ongoing support throughout, helping to keep the team focused and on track to deliver the project.
nquiringminds used their InterliNQ IoT middleware to build both the IoT routers and the temperature/humidity sensors, which monitor and control the grain drying process. All of the data is fed into nquiringminds’s Trusted Data Exchange (TDX). The TDX is used to store both the historical and real time data.
This same platform allows this data to be shared, analysed and visualised at scale.
Digital Catapult Case Studies
Making an impact, accelerating growth and increasing productivity across the UK.More details: https://www.digicatapult.org.uk/case-studies/
Access to Testbed and Business/Technical Expertise
Data Flock takes big data and visualises it to give deeper insight and meaning, helping organisations make informed decisions to improve and develop.
Digital Catapult Centre Yorkshire was instrumental in the formation of Data Flock when Mark Barrett and his business partner decided to take the leap and launch their new business in August 2016. Digital Catapult provided support and reassurance during the early development phase when forming the business. They were instrumental in creating introductions and networking opportunities which subsequently led to four new contracts in two months.
The impact of Digital Catapult’s involvement was considerable, helping provide a testing platform to market test, assistance with setting up contracts and facilitating growth. Digital Catapult and Data Flock came together during a ‘hack’ event held by the Digital Health Enterprise Zone in Bradford.
(part of) Public organization (part of RTO, or university)
Number of employees
- European Regional Development Fund
- National specific innovation funding
- Regional funding
- Horizon 2020
- Private funding
- Partner resources
Number of customers annually
Type of customers
- Large companies, multi-nationals
York North Yorkshire & East Riding Local Enterprise Partnerships
University of Sunderland
The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT)
University of Huddersfield
University of Chichester
Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnerships
Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnerships
Ulster University of Edinburgh
BT Global Services
University of Brighton
University of Bristol
SITA Laboratories + others through our networked
Department for Economy
Sunderland City Council
industry and academia on the commercial exploitation of R&D and science and technology in Northern Ireland)
University of York
Digital Health and Care Alliance (DHACA)
University of Bradford
Sussex Academic Health Centre
Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnerships
Newcastle City Council
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
North East Local Enterprise Partnerships
Leeds Beckett University
University of Bath
York St John University
Teesside Local Enterprise Partnerships
University College London
Brighton and Hove City Council
University of Sussex
- Cyber physical systems (e.g. embedded systems)
- Robotics and autonomous systems
- Internet of Things (e.g. connected devices, sensors and actuators networks)
- Artificial Intelligence and cognitive systems
- Location based technologies (e.g. GPS, GIS, in-house localization)
- Interaction technologies (e.g. human-machine Interaction, motion recognition and language technologies)
- Cyber security (including biometrics)
- Advanced or High performance computing
- Data mining, big data, database management
- Augmented and virtual reality, visualization
- Simulation and modelling
- Software as a service and service architectures
- ICT management, logistics and business systems
- New Media technologies
- Broadband and other communication networks (e.g. 5G)
European Network of competencies and platforms for Enabling SME from any sector building Innovative CPS products to sustain demand for European manufacturingEuropean Network of competencies and platforms for Enabling SME from any sector building Innovative CPS products to sustain demand for European manufacturing
SMEs play a key role in European economies; they constitute the largest business block and provide the bulk of employment. They generate most of the innovative ideas for ICT and CPS-enabled IoT products, two areas which represent an inflection point for innovators and industry in Europe.
EuroCPS is an ambitious project that aims to arm Europe with a network of design centres that will boost and initiate synergies between SMEs, major CPS-platforms, and CPS-competency providers, to capture the emerging markets for IoT products.
1. Leverage the existing regional ecosystem across the full value chain (from micro-electronics, smart systems, and CPS, to high value added products and services) and range of expertise and competencies to provide innovators from any sector with an easy path to build innovative CPS-enabled systems.
2. Act as a one-stop-shop that provides a critical mass of technologies and competencies by facilitating user-supplier partnerships across value-chains and regions. Hence the typical development time of innovative for CPS applications will be significantly decreased through the ease of access to the platforms, and coaching by the competence partners within EuroCPS.
3. Link software, system and nano-electronic industries along the full CPS value chain to demonstrate a new cooperation model evidenced by experiments initiated and led by innovators that translate the rich pool of ideas from end users into implementation of CPS applications made in Europe.
EuroCPS gathers major European system suppliers and world class research centres and technology providers, all rooted in the top European regional ecosystems. Based on strong foundations in European and national initiatives, EuroCPS will, through pan European collaboration and knowledge exchange and access to the strong value chain in this strategic sector, significantly reduce development time and certification efforts, thus putting Europe at the cutting edge of CPS development and implementation.
GateOne - Innovation Service for European Smartization by SMEsGateOne - Innovation Service for European Smartization by SMEs
GateOne’s mission is to accelerate smart systems adoption by European SMEs in facilitating their access to advanced technologies for the development of innovative and smart solutions. GateOne offers Innovation as a Service to the benefit of SMEs in structuring a complete and adapted innovation chain to contribute to the Smartization of Europe. The concept is based on an innovative and pragmatic approach to cross the valley of death. Our Innovation Action is designed to enter efficiently into a new management paradigm in implementing critical size mechanisms. We will work on a unique Pan European portfolio of smart systems technologies to make them attractive and available for evaluation by a large panel of European SMEs. 20% of the portfolio will be related to bioelectronics technologies. In implementing the New Product Introduction process, our service will provide a collaboration framework between SMEs and RTOs, to progress from Lab to Market. From a complementary smart systems technologies portfolio we will work on 50 small scale projects to deliver innovation concept in the form of demonstrators. They will be produced at the only condition that an SME expresses interest and engages to enter into a testing phase. Our innovation service will allow low risk evaluation conditions. We will introduce “product concept” designed on a business case to meet SMEs expectations. We will structure, an adapted innovation chain, while validating the cost efficient manufacturability of the solution. A broad diffusion will make GateOne a European entry point of state-of-the-art technology for smart systems.Inherited from COWIN CSA success and commitment of RTOs to further apply and develop the COWIN approach, GateOne will lead to a major breakthrough for European competitiveness in engaging SMEs in the smartization wave. The support of the European Commission will validate the concept and prepare its sustainability with RTOs, industrials and private investors support.
Federated CPS Digital Innovation Hubs for the Smart Anything Everywhere InitiativeFederated CPS Digital Innovation Hubs for the Smart Anything Everywhere Initiative
The overall ambition of the FED4SAE innovation action (IA) is to boost and sustain the digitization of the European industry by strengthening competitiveness in Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and embedded system markets. In alignment with the "Smart Anything Everywhere" initiative goals, FED4SAE will:
- Create a pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) by leveraging existing regional ecosystems across full value chains and a range of competencies. DIHs will enable both tech and non-tech innovative Third parties (Startups SMEs, Midcaps) from any sector to build new products and services with “digital inside”.
- Act as a European added-value one-stop-shop to facilitate innovators-suppliers cross-border partnerships which will accelerate innovation in products and processes of European Third parties by providing technical, industrial and innovation management expertise. This will lead to quantifiable increases in market shares, productivity, industrial capacities of the Third parties, and a broader adoption of CPS and embedded systems solutions.
- Link innovators to investors associated to DIHs to reach out to further funding opportunities and enable the next steps of the Third parties’ developments after completing their application experiments (AEs).
- Ensure the self-sustainability of the DIHs pan-European network by developing cooperation with regional organizations and key stakeholders engaging public and or private investment to fund FED4SAE network activities.
FED4SAE is built upon the key learnings obtained in the EuroCPS, Gateone-project, CPSE Labs IAs. FED4SAE will leverage the best practices related to Third party engagement, submission, evaluation and selection of AEs. FED4SAE will give birth to a competitive ecosystem where European Startups, SMEs and Midcaps will thrive as they access to leading technology sources, competencies and industrial platforms and also to well-connected business infrastructures and existing regional innovation hubs.
Robotics for Infrastructure Inspection and MAintenanceRobotics for Infrastructure Inspection and MAintenance
Inspection and Maintenance (I&M) represents a huge economic activity (450 Bn€ market) spanning across sectors such as energy, transport, civil engineering. EU hosts over 50% of I&M robotics offer but there is a bottleneck connecting it to the market and high potential applications. RIMA is a 4-year project aiming to establish a network of 13 Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) on robotics sharing best practices and providing services to facilitate uptake of I&M technologies.
Our challenge is to reinforce this connection and to provide education and training on robotics I&M and to connect the value chain - research, technology companies, service providers, end users and investors- for accelerating economic growth in the field:
- RIMA is building upon the network pioneered by SPRINT Robotics extending it to all relevant sectors across the value chain.
- The RIMA network encompasses:
o leading research organizations supporting one DIH per region aligned with regional policies and industry sectors.
o Sectorial associations who will make a bridge with end users and industries.
- RIMA will offer services including support to testing and technology transfer, coaching and training on robotics for I&M, process optimization and communication. 50.5% of RIMA’s budget will be distributed to SMEs to run experiments using FSTP
- RIMA will advise on funding opportunities relying on the S3 Thematic Platform on robotics for I&M federating the common ambition of 13 EU regions.
- Network sustainability will be ensured by adapting the SPRINT business model
Expected results are (i) increased competitiveness of EU I&M Robotics, (ii) economic added value by increased productivity and availability of the critical infrastructure (iii) social and environmental impact through improved safety and less emission of hazardous substances (iv) the constitution of a sustainable and scalable (open to new members) DIH network aligned with the industrial and European policies and ambitions
Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) federation for large scale adoption of digital technologies by European SMEsDigital Innovation Hubs (DIH) federation for large scale adoption of digital technologies by European SMEs
DigiFed’s main objective is to encourage the adoption of advanced digital technologies by EU SMEs with a focus on non-digital businesses. DigiFed implements a business plan for the sustainability of the federation of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs), while providing significant support mechanisms for individual and groups of SMEs to foster the introduction of digital technologies in their product and service offerings. DigiFed aims to engage at least 200 SMEs and midcaps from all across Europe in its innovation programme. At least 80 of these will receive also funding support and benefits from one of Digifed’s innovation pathways- half of these will be businesses with low digital maturity.
DigiFed’s business model is based on collaborative investments with fair return for contributing parties, realised by our ability to reduce innovation risks and generate new business opportunities. DigiFed leverage both funding from private sector and public co-funding from regions of DIHs, in order to maximise value from EU investments. These will be used for the development of truly differentiated and impactful digitization solutions targeting the needs of different markets, penetrating the value chain down to non-technology companies.
DigiFed focuses on Cyber Physical and Embedded Systems with a particular attention on security and privacy, autonomy and human-machine interaction. Its innovation pathways offer two main instruments: Generic Experiments target a group of mainly non-tech SMEs to implement advanced technology demonstrators with co-funding from regional authorities; Application Experiments allow individual SMEs to define an R&I project to disrupt, upgrade or manufacture an innovative digital product or service.
DigiFed gathers 6 DIHs from different countries with established ecosystems and will continue expanding and linking with other DIHs and DIH networks through its lifetime to create a truly EU-wide offering of sustainable cross-border DIH services.