Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced plans to fund a Digital Economy “Catapult” centre to help drive innovation and adoption of new technologies by UK businesses.
The Catapult centre will act as a “hub for the best innovations in the digital sector,” and will conduct research into sustainability, consumerisation and the impact that new technologies are having on existing platforms, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
It will also serve as a link between the digital industries and businesses that are less technologically inclined. Tech companies will be encouraged to help organisations use new technologies in innovative ways to develop profitable business models, and share insight into issues affecting the digital economy such as intellectual property.
The centre builds on the government's £400 million Tech City initiative, designed to establish a UK version of Silicon Valley in London's East End. Cable made the announcement during a visit to augmented reality firm Holition in Shoreditch, which uses 3D digital technology to provide advertising in the retail sector.
“We have world leading, innovative businesses in the ICT, digital and creative sectors which have considerable potential for growth,” said Cable. “For instance, a few years ago, there were just fifteen technology startups around Old Street and Shoreditch – now there are hundreds of high-tech companies in the area.
“The Connected Digital Economy Catapult is a practical way in which government can support industry to maintain its competitive advantage,” he added.
The government has already highlighted the potential of London's Tech City startup community to attract new investment in the UK and help get the economy back on track. Only this week, a delegation of Austin-based digital media and gaming companies embarked on a tour of London’s Tech City, with the aim of identifying potential partnerships and growth opportunities in the area.
The Catapult centre programme will be managed by the Technology Strategy Board as part of a wider support package for innovation. The funding will come out of a £200 million fund set aside for a network of new Catapult Centres – formerly known as Technology and Innovation Centres – across a number of different industry sectors.
“The centre will enable businesses to use resources they could only dream of obtaining on their own,” added Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey. “It will help businesses realise new ideas and turn them into new products, new jobs, and new growth.”