Catapult centres, a government initiative aimed at transforming the UK’s capability for innovation in seven specific areas, is seeing success. The centres are designed to bridge the gap between business and academia, helping to convert great ideas into commercial reality. The concept is based on a German model, Fraunhofer Institutes, which has been successful in driving innovation in Germany.

The seven areas of focus for Catapult centres are high-value manufacturing, cell therapy, offshore renewable energy, satellite applications, digital economy, future cities and transport systems. The centres are funded by a combination of core public funding, project funding and commercial funding.

The High-Value Manufacturing Catapult has already supported projects such as the Bloodhound supersonic car, which aims to break the land speed record. The Transport Systems Catapult in Milton Keynes is working on projects to improve the UK’s transport infrastructure and is developing a driverless car.

Critics argue that the centres are too focused on certain sectors and that they should be more spread out geographically. Despite these criticisms, the centres have been successful in fostering collaboration between academia and business, and in driving innovation in the UK.

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