By Marcus Leach
Government investment in technology and innovation will enable Britain’s world leading digital businesses to benefit from future advances in technology and help them bring new products to the marketplace, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced today (Thursday).
The new Connected Digital Economy Catapult centre will be a hub for the best innovations in the digital sector, focusing on where new advances can be made in areas such as:
· addressing the challenges and opportunities of building a sustainable digital media and content business.
· researching the impact of new technologies, such as augmented reality, will have on existing platforms and the potential infrastructure changes needed to support them.
· looking at how our devices, our clothes, our cars, and other consumer goods become better connected to enhance the physical nature of our lives.
The Connected Digital Economy Catapult will also help transfer knowledge and experience from the digital industries to non-digital businesses and help them see the value that it could add to their business.
For example, the music industry went through dramatic changes when it embraced digital technologies, it also experienced a great number of challenges particularly around intellectual property. Today businesses are making similar changes in industries such as media and retail which will benefit from the experience the music industry can provide.
Making the announcement at augmented reality firm Holition in Shoreditch which uses 3D digital technology to provide advertising in the retail sector, Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
“Long term investment in our economic strengths and being at the forefront of technological development are essential if we are to achieve sustainable and balanced growth.
“We have world leading, innovative businesses in the ICT, digital and creative sectors which have considerable potential for growth. For instance, a few years ago, there were just fifteen technology start-ups around Old Street and Shoreditch - now there are hundreds of high-tech companies in the area, including Holition where I am today.
“The Connected Digital Economy Catapult is a practical way in which Government can support industry to maintain its competitive advantage so that they can continue to be leading the way in making products and services that people want.”
Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey said:
"The Internet has effectively ended any distinction between digital and creative industries. This Catapult centre will help bring together key parts of the UK economy.
"The centre will enable businesses to use resources they could only dream of obtaining on their own. It will help businesses realise new ideas and turn them into new products, new jobs, and new growth."
Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said:
“We are extremely pleased to be supporting such an important technology area with a Catapult centre. With many, if not all, industries searching for ways to utilise digital technology, the opportunity for the Catapult will be enormous. It will also be applicable to all internet-using businesses and industries as they attempt to innovate with digital technology to provide consumers and businesses with new products and services.”
Today’s announcement is part of the Government’s £200 million investment in a network of Catapult centres across a number of sectors. The Advanced Manufacturing Catapult is now operating across seven locations around the UK, a £50 million Cell Therapy Catapult will be established in London and a Satellite Applications Catapult will be set up later this year.
In the next few weeks, further sectors which will be supported by Catapult centres will be confirmed.
The Catapult centre programme is managed by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) as part of a wider support package for innovation. The TSB will now begin the competition to run the centre considering expressions of interest and written proposals and a process of legal checks before a final decision is made by the Board.
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