Digital Catapult opens at King's Cross and begins regional expansion

The Digital Catapult innovation centre is expanding into Sunderland, Brighton and Bradford to support UK startups

The Digital Catapult innovation centre is building on its commitment to expand regionally with three additional centres, in Sunderland, Brighton and Bradford, to support UK digital innovation.

The three sites will support the UK’s first Digital Catapult centre at London King’s Cross, which is opening today.

Minister for the digital economy, Ed Vaizey, said: “It is an exciting time to be a tech business in the UK. Our digital economy is already one of the strongest markets in the world, valued at more than £100bn. Growth areas including the internet of things (IoT), and digital creative industries are opening up a range of new opportunities for companies in the sector.”

Digital Catapult is funded by Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board. The King’s Cross site will focus on open data.

Digital Catapult Brighton will focus on real-time location-based services, Bradford will support digital health innovation, while Sunderland will specialise in security. 

As Computer Weekly has previously reported, CIOs are increasingly turning to startups to help them innovate quicker. Retailer John Lewis is investing £100,000 in technology startup Localz, which specialises in micro-location technology. In June 2014, Barclays launched a programme to find innovative fintech businesses.

Digital Catapult CEO Neil Crockett said: “There are many brilliant digital innovation communities across the UK. Some of the most exciting digital innovation in the UK is happening in local communities. It is important we support and collaborate with these local innovation communities, which are doing amazing things in our focus areas.”

Phil Jones, digital champion at Coast to Capital LEP (local enterprise partnership), said: “Digital Catapult Brighton will operate around three principles: innovation, collaboration and openness. The projects it houses will provide real opportunities for startups and small digital businesses to work with each other and with universities and large corporates to turn ideas into activities with real value to them.”

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland is a city that has, for some time, been growing its reputation for innovation and technology. To become a key focal point of an initiative that will not only support startups and SMEs, but that will be a place in which software businesses can collaborate and share ideas, is exactly what the Sunderland Software Centre was built to achieve. It’s fantastic news for the city and wider north-east region.”

Brian Cantor, vice-chancellor of the University of Bradford, said: “The centre will build on our recently launched Digital Health Enterprise Zone, enabling companies developing new healthcare products and services to connect with Bradford’s outstanding capabilities in healthcare systems research, practice-based medicine, and information and communications technology, as well as with other centres nationally, driving the UK digital economy.”

All three centres are due to open in March 2015.

The Digital Catapult aims to support 10,000 small businesses by 2018, delivering an economic benefit of £365m.

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