24 Jul 2024


UK government commits almost £1bn to high-tech hubs

Chancellor Philip Hammond (second from left) at the Manufacturing Technology Centre: supporting innovators across the country

The Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a further £780m of investment in the UK’s Catapult Centres – the network of high-tech hubs designed to create the technologies of tomorrow. Together with £180m announced by the Prime Minister for Centres in the North East last month, this takes the combined recent funding to almost £1bn – the largest investment in r&d for 40 years, according to the government.

Hammond made the announcement as he opened a 230m2 (2,500ft2) product manufacturing incubator at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry. The three-storey incubator has received £122m of government funding. It will help start-ups and entrepreneurs to bring innovative products to market, providing them with “incubation cells” to develop and manufacture prototypes. They will have access to the Manufacturing Technology Centre’s advanced manufacturing and research facilities, and to the MTC’s engineering and manufacturing experts.

Some £99m of the new funding will go to the Warwick Manufacturing Group (which, like the MTC, is part of the High Value Manufacturing Centre), with other beneficiaries including the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham and Sheffield, the National Composite Centre in Bristol, and the Centre for Process Innovation in Redcar.

Hammond said that the £780m investment “will support innovators across the country to create the technologies of the future – and the better, highly-paid jobs we urgently need”.

Business Secretary Greg Clark added that the government “wants to make the UK the most innovative nation in the world”. The investment in the Catapult network “will play a key role in building on UK strengths, bringing new ideas and products to market and helping drive local economies across the UK”, he said.

Over the past five years, the Catapults have helped around 3,000 small businesses to develop and exploit new technologies. They are also training hundreds of apprentices and doctoral students. In the past year alone, 900 apprentices have gained experience of modern manufacturing technologies at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

Dr Ian Campbell, interim executive chair of Innovate UK, says that the new funding will allow the Catapults to continue helping thousands of businesses to undertake r&d: “This long-term investment will mean the Catapults can help deliver the grand challenges of the Industrial Strategy in their sectors, and help the UK achieve its ambition to raise investment in r&d to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.”