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Government to invest an extra £215m in UK innovation centres

The extra funding will be given to the Catapult network of innovation centres, focusing on digital, medicines discovery, future cities and transport systems

The government is investing an extra £215m in the Catapult network of innovation centres across the UK.

This comes in addition to the previously announced £960m to support the UK network of innovation centres for the next five years.  

The money will support the centres, which are fully funded by the government, to explore cutting edge technologies.

The extra funding is going to perhaps the most well-known of the centres, the Digital Catapult, which will use the money to support uptake of artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, augmented and virtual reality. The innovation centre recently launched its first Ethics Framework for AI and machine learning. 

Digital minister Margot James said the funding will “help us develop the cutting-edge technology of the future and build on the fantastic new statistics out today, which show we are leading Europe in producing fast-growing, digitally focused, billion-dollar businesses”.  

“The UK is a hotbed of innovative tech talent and the Digital Catapult will continue to play a vital role in making sure the sector has the foundations to thrive as we build a Britain that is fit for the future,” she said.

Funding also goes to the Medicines Discovery Catapult, focusing on new technologies to speed up delivery of medicines to patients.

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The Future Cities and Transport Systems Catapult centres, which are joining forces and merging,  will also benefit from extra funding to tackle issues of modern city living and the future of mobility.  

The centre, which will operate out of both London and Milton Keynes, aims to help businesses to access research and expertise more quickly, and keep the country “at the forefront of urban and transport innovation”.

Commenting on the additional funding, business secretary Greg Clark said the Catapult network, which is managed by Innovate UK, “offers the technical expertise and equipment to allow businesses to take on the challenges and opportunities we expect to face in a future world”.

“We’re backing experts to push new boundaries, so our future economy reaps the benefits of new technologies with more highly skilled jobs,” he said. “Investment in research and development is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy as we build on the UK’s reputation for scientific innovation.”

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