AN INNOVATION CENTRE in London will open its doors on 5 November, giving small businesses in a kick up the rear end in develop better digital ideas in the capital and across the UK.
Named the Digital Catapult Centre, the building located in Kings Cross is part of the Connected Digital Economy Catapult and funded by Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board.
The Centre will provide entrepreneurs, SMEs, researchers and corporate organisations with a space to meet and collaborate on development projects in a bid to "rapidly advance the UK's best digital ideas" by concentrating on four major data challenges: trust and personal data; the Internet of Things (IoT); building diverse datasets; and reducing licensing friction.
"When trying to address major challenges, for example the Internet of Things in healthcare, businesses reach a point where they need help to cross some ‘chasms' on the way to bringing their products or services to market," explained Connected Digital Economy Catapult CEO Neil Crockett. "It's at this point the Digital Catapult Centre will play a part."
The Centre will also be the cornerstone of many new collaborations between business, universities and other digital stakeholders.
The Centre's launch in November will be followed by a series of launch events and a first wave of regional hubs across the country, in a bid to get different industries to work together, for example between creative and technology, offering space for technologists, creatives, businesses and academia to showcase products, connect and collaborate.
"It includes state-of-the-art collaboration solutions, innovations labs, development spaces plus a Data Sphere and showcase for the UK's most exciting new data innovations," said Innovate UK. "As well as a program of events and workshops, the Centre will run pit stops. These are intensive two-week sessions that bring together relevant multi-disciplinary expertise to help businesses accelerate the development their products or services."
By 2018, the Digital Catapult aims to make a difference to 10,000 UK organisations, generating £365m of linked economic value. In addition to working with small businesses, the centre will see large businesses supporting and using the Centre to help UK-based innovators develop their ideas.
The centre has also committed to a secondment programme for leading PHDs from several Centres of Doctoral Training and a student fellowship programme organised in collaboration with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC).
In June, the UK Government opened an innovation centre in Milton Keynes to develop smart technologies for transport in Britain, which is "set to transform the movement of people and goods around the world".
The Transport System Catapult (TSC) quango, a group also established by Innovate UK, called it the "Imovation Centre", which supposedly stands for "intelligent mobility and innovation", to help make transport smarter in the years ahead and generate £90bn per year for Blighty come 2025.
UK business secretary Vince Cable claimed that it will support business growth in the UK to turn the country into "a global leader in Intelligent Mobility products and services", from driverless vehicles and improved airport data systems to integrated logistics, sentient mapping and smart traffic lights. µ
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