Professor Juergen Maier CBE is Digital Catapult’s Chair. Formerly CEO of Siemens UK, Juergen is co-Chair of the UK’s national industrial digitalisation initiative Made Smarter

How has the first year in the role been?

It’s been a whirlwind of a year. Firstly I’m consistently impressed by the talent at Digital Catapult and the range of exciting and innovative projects that we are working on. The diversity, energy and ingenuity of the team is impressive and inspiring and that culture is a huge selling point when I’m talking to people in the industry about what we can do for them.

What was your highlight from last year?

It’s so hard to pick out a favourite from the hundreds of amazing projects the team help deliver. In terms of a technology theme that runs throughout many of them, I am fascinated by the potential of 5G. Many people still think it’s just a faster 4G, but it is so much more than that. Seeing Digital Catapult’s 5G testbed work in various projects, for example as an enabler to transforming audience experiences in the creative setting and transforming how supply chains can be optimised in manufacturing, is really exciting.

Digital Catapult’s Board has seen some changes this year

Yes, we welcomed the troika of Keith Underwood, Priya Guha and William Priest to the Board. They bring an impressive level of expertise and experience and are already making their mark in helping the company achieve its purpose and increase its impact through the challenging conditions the UK faces now and in the near future. I’d also like to repeat my sincerest thanks to Laura Shesgren and Ian Baverstock who have been immensely valuable to the organisation since its earliest days.

What have you taken away from the impact of the pandemic?

We have a tremendous industrial and creative base in the UK, with incredible universities, engineers, innovators, content creators and so on. My hope as we move towards economic recovery is that the UK can take more of a long term focus on creating lasting change from the impacts of coronavirus, and embracing technology that can help make those positive, tangible changes to our business and cultural environments.

What’s next for Digital Catapult?

There is so much great work going on, it’s now all about scaling these and the impact they have on our focus industries and society. In other words, moving faster from the ground-breaking work we do, for example in the application of 5G or augmented reality projects, to industries being able to scale these to improve productivity, better customer experiences, more revenue for businesses and ultimately more jobs for people up and down the country.