A major recent trend, and one that’s set to grow even more moving forward, is applying a combination of advanced digital technologies to solve problems.

We’re perhaps used to seeing artificial intelligence used to interpret data, or augmented reality to show us information in real time overlaid with real life. But what if we combine them? And add in a 5G network to boost processing time and allow instantaneous interaction with the digital world. Think of how this could change all manner of industries. It’ll enhance and drive productivity and boost economic growth, aiding the recovery of our economy from the coronavirus pandemic.

The importance of digital technology to the Covid-19 recovery shouldn’t be underestimated. And I firmly believe that Digital Catapult has a crucial role to play in that. Our expertise in our focus tech areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the internet of things, 5G, distributed systems, and virtual, augmented and mixed reality, are no longer distinct as they begin to merge and add complementary value to the other to provide a unique take on how to encourage businesses in the manufacturing and creative industries - and their vast supply chains - to adapt and adopt innovative solutions that use more than one technology. Combine this with our range of industry-recognised technical expertise, leading innovation and policy expertise, and Digital Catapult is now a force for sustainable and resilient, and long term, change across multiple sectors of the UK economy.

In the recently released “London: A Global Leader in Advanced Digital Technologies Report” that we produced for the Greater London Authority, what is most encouraging is seeing the ways in which the capital is making the most of its technology ecosystem, and knowing that this can be rolled out, copied, adopted by other areas around the country, where there is a similar amount of stellar work also happening.

I said in the last annual engagement and impact report that I am passionate about, and known for my role in, UK manufacturing. That much is still true and I’ve been lucky to spend the last 18 months getting more involved in the UK’s vibrant creative industries sector and seeing the wealth of amazing projects that are happening to reach new audiences, encourage new experiences and contribute to the UK’s standing around the world.

What’s clear from my first year as Chair of Digital Catapult is the drive to succeed, the drive to boost the manufacturing and creative sectors to be more productive, more efficient and more sustainable for the future. Ultimately this is all about helping create a more successful 4th Industrial and Creative Industries revolution and creating prosperity for society through that. We can do it, we are doing it, and I look forward to continuing the march forward.

Digital Catapult is a force for sustainable, resilient and long term change across the UK economy.

Juergen Maier CBE