ORE Catapult

New national network launched to boost innovation

A multi-million-pound national network has been launched to accelerate UK innovation and assist the exchange of ideas and knowledge between industry and academia.

The Innovation Launchpad Network+ will bring together leading universities, catapults and regional innovation ecosystems to create new ways for researchers to engage with industry on key issues such as net zero and human health.

Led by the University of Sheffield, the £6.75 million programme includes the Universities of Exeter, Leeds, Strathclyde, Warwick and Bristol, along with the Catapult Network, which represents the nine catapults established by Innovate UK. These catapults support businesses across healthcare, energy, emerging technologies and manufacturing in transforming great ideas into valuable products and services.

To foster new links between individuals or groups and the Catapult Network, the Innovation Launchpad Network+ will deliver 100 world-class ‘Researchers in Residence’ programmes, and will focus on the themes of net zero, healthcare and wellbeing, and resilience.

Chris Evans, Director of Innovation, Impact & Business at the University of Exeter, said: “As a university that is committed to breaking down those traditional barriers that delay or deter academics from engaging with real-world issues and opportunities, we are delighted to be playing a leading role in this new network. The Catapult Network is an important element of the country’s levelling up agenda, and we can bring our considerable expertise in this field to help foster new links, particularly in areas aligned to our 2030 Strategy, such as net zero and health and wellbeing.”

The programme will support two complementary pathways for research residencies, both of which aim to place the right researcher in the right catapult at the right time. The first will involve residencies that contribute directly to the delivery of the catapults’ strategic roadmaps, which are near-term industry needs.

The second pathway will focus upon leveraging the capability of the catapults to accelerate the translation of science in partnership with higher education institutions and regional innovation ecosystems, which can include other non-catapult research and technology organisations and incubators.

Applications for the Researcher in Residence scheme will open in October, and additional funding for travel and feasibility studies will be available to support the co-creation of research residencies. The Innovation Launchpad Network+ includes previously successful academics, who will offer support and mentoring to new applicants.

Matthew Durdy, Chair of the Catapult Network and CEO of Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult said: "We welcome this important initiative which strikes right at the heart of our aim to build a collaborative research, development and innovation landscape. Catapults and academia working together will provide first-class knowledge exchange and a launchpad to bring researchers closer to innovation in industry, giving them valuable exposure to the translation and commercialisation of research.”

An online event is being held from 12pm-2pm on Thursday 6 October 2022, where researchers can find out more about the Innovation Launchpad Network+ and the opportunities provided by the Researcher in Residence scheme. To register for a ticket, visit Eventbrite.

Date: 24 August 2022

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