We live in an increasingly networked world. Whether it’s a private 5G network, a distributed record of a complex interlinked food supply chain, or simply a group of people in an audience, this ‘networked’ society reaches into many parts of our personal and professional lives.

Digital Catapult is an active partner in creating this networked world, through a number of industry-leading, pioneering projects that are creating distributed, sustainable and resilient environments.

In manufacturing industries, this is not just about operational efficiency and the flow of goods and services. Adoption of advanced digital technology will have a ripple effect throughout entire supply chains, helping to create a shared infrastructure that improves trust and traceability, as well as enabling remote operations and new ways of training and communication. Connected products in the in-service lifecycle provide an opportunity to build new sustainable business models for the manufacturing and wider industrial sector that are based around service. These ‘servitisation’ business models bring manufacturers closer to the end user by giving them access to usage data, and we’re working with a major manufacturer to do just this.

For the creative industries, creating new networks of contacts in different sectors is helping to bring fresh thinking into the sector. Lessons learned from using advanced digital technologies, like 5G and AI, are being incorporated into creative thinking. In our acceleration programmes, we’re seeing more and more how the advanced digital technology stack is expanding the potential for audiences to experience incredible content in new ways, and the Reality Emulator in Bristol is a visionary project taking inspiration from various digital twin facilities. The connectedness of our social media lives, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, has also forced us to reevaluate how we can use existing networks to produce experiences that can be enjoyed from home but still give us a feeling of being together - several startups that are part of CreativeXR, Augmentor and the 5G Testbed Accelerator programme are getting the funding, mentorship and expertise from Digital Catapult to help achieve this.

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Proving the real world impact of 5G

We’re continually looking for ways to bring 5G to life, to prove its potential in realworld environments and to revolutionise the sectors where it is applied.

Working with Verizon, we’ve created a programme that aims to use 5G as a core part of the new consumer retail experience, helping to pave the way for the future of retail. Mixing 5G with immersive, the retail accelerator programme will enable a select number of retail and brand partners to work directly with leaders in the UK startup and innovator community, alongside other technology innovators to explore how 5G-enabled solutions can solve their real-world business challenges, using Verizon’s 5G and edge computing capabilities to develop prototypes.

5G’s super-fast speeds, massive bandwidth and ultra-low latency can transform industry experiences, and Verizon is already showcasing an augmented shopping experience, virtual events and experiences, smart retail shelving, intelligent asset management and AR-enabled workspace reimagining at Verizon’s London 5G Lab.

We’re empowering startups to discover, develop and test next generation connectivity through the 5G Testbed Accelerator programme. Successful adoption of 5G is all about meaningful and purposeful adoption, giving the right answer to the question of how 5G will specifically help a business. With a clear understanding of how 5G will drive a business forward to create a boundary-pushing and customer-focused outcome, the 5G Testbed Accelerator Programme provides a significant boost and potentially opens up entirely new business models.

Participants like Mativision pioneered interactive live-streamed 360 degree VR for live events using 5G to reduce broadcast latency from 45 to just four seconds and raised over £60,000. Sceenic developed an app called Watch Together that brings audiences together in a unified experience enabling them to watch and communicate using the same app, and has since worked with BT Sport and La Liga, and ori, which used the 5G testbed to accelerate the development of its solution that makes edge computing more accessible to the wider development community, enabling organisations to harness the advantages mobile edge computing provides.

Tackling urban challenges with IoT

Helping to create a universal approach to developing, procuring and deploying new services that tackle urban challenges using IoT and AI.

How do city authorities make sense of all the information they collect, and ensure they make best use of it for the benefit of their citizens, especially when there are no standardardised, universal solutions on the market? This makes it increasingly complex to deploy smart city services across multiple cities, which can be a major barrier to growth.

Funded by Horizon 2020 as a collaborative R&D project, SynchroniCity connects 34 partners from 11 countries over four continents. SynchroniCity is opening a global market, where cities and businesses develop services enabled by the internet of things and artificial intelligence improve the lives of citizens and to grow local economies.

Blending these technologies, SynchroniCity helped cities simplify the creation of new services that tackle the urban challenges they are facing, creating a harmonised marketplace for urban data and IoT enabled services. This synchronised marketplace linked 50 pilot projects and demonstrators projects in 21 cities, focusing on citizen engagement, environment and wellbeing, and sustainable mobility. Both small and large businesses with successful business models were chosen to deploy their digital solutions across digital markets.

The pilots demonstrated that by using this framework, it is possible to transfer social and environmental impact to local economic activity, as well as opening new market opportunities for both local authorities and technology service providers.

The pilot work has enabled Digital Catapult to test and mature our prototype IoT data marketplace, Urban Data Exchange, which was launched at the Smart City World Congress in Barcelona, and has now won funding to commercialise it into a business.

Innovating across the manufacturing value chain

We’re working across the manufacturing value chain, and on projects across the UK that are helping to develop pockets of capability harness advanced digital technologies.

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The internet of things is the digital skin of our planet. By measuring the real state of the world through sensors, we become aware of existing issues and can track them over time as we use specific interventions to combat these issues.

Alex Gluhak

More than ever, industries are looking to rapidly innovate out of business necessity - and in months instead of years. Next gen digital channels, remote experiences, immersive content at home and on the go... these are new ways to better serve customers, all unlocked by 5G.

Christian Guirnalda

Everything they do is for our benefit – they have an unselfish passion and enthusiasm for what they do! Thanks to their support, we can now show our clients and potential investors what we can do for them.

Aharon Yechezkel

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Supporting digital futures in Bristol

The Bristol Digital Futures Institute offers significant opportunities for collaboration to create transformative digital technologies for the future.

Digital Catapult is a supporter and funder of the Bristol Digital Futures Institute, a world leading institute that combines academic excellence from the University of Bristol with tech business expertise, working closely with local government and the community, to understand how technology will be developed, used and experienced in the future. The BDFI will build on a wide range of expertise to explore groundbreaking advances in many technology areas.

The Reality Emulator combines 5G and immersive technology in an open access facility. Built around the idea of data visualisation, the Reality Emulator will model data and use immersive technologies to enable users to ‘experience’ the data within a 3D virtual or augmented reality environment. Like the Matrix. This visionary idea to plug data sets into an immersive experience will allow users a unique, and incredibly future-looking opportunity to interpret, understand and use the data in an entirely new way: the idea has taken inspiration from various digital twin facilities that are used in some areas of manufacturing, but no one is doing anything to the extent of the Reality Emulator. As one of the number of partners, we’re working on scoping and stakeholder input, procurement and system design.

MyWorld is another project led by the University of Bristol, where we have a key role in a consortium of 27 leading tech, academic and creative partners. Many companies in the UK’s creative industries lack access to research and development opportunities and knowledge. MyWorld will create an opportunity in Bristol to build on the creative media production, technology and research strengths of the local region by creating new collaborative facilities to explore and exploit immersive technologies like motion and volumetric capture, funding innovative R&D and acceleration programmes and exploiting digital formats to create new experiences across fiction, documentary, games and live performance.

Cutting edge immersive facilities and accelerators

Our facilities at Dimension and the Imaginarium are leading edge pioneers in volumetric and motion capture for the film and TV industry, and the expertise that resides in these facilities is truly leading the way in global virtual production developments. Most recently, Dimension has been involved in helping people get back to work in Covid-safe ways and aiding economic recovery, whilst our immersive acceleration programmes continue to help startups reach investors and commercial partners, or pivot to create at-home experiences to be accessed by audiences on their phones or computers.

Dancer in augmentor studio

Digital Catapult has been really helpful in providing contacts and exposure. The CreativeXR process has lived on way beyond the initial year. They couldn’t be more supportive. Without Digital Catapult’s involvement, this wouldn’t have happened.

Olie Kay 


You need to know what story to tell, and how to tell it. Digital Catapult helped us to take the right approach and become pitch perfect. The mentorship from Digital Catapult is one of the best experiences I have had – and this lies at the core of its success.

Christophe Mallet

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Exploring DLT in additive manufacturing

Discovering how distributed ledger technology can securely and accurately share data from additive manufacturing

Funded by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute, we’re partnering with Valuechain to deliver VITALam, a project set to revolutionise how information gathered during the additive manufacturing process is securely captured and shared throughout the aerospace supply chain between digital aerospace factories, accelerating AM uptake in the UK.

Commonly known as 3D printing, additive manufacturing uses powder to build parts. The quality of the powder has a massive impact on the quality of the parts, so it’s crucial to understand the journey of the powder, and the subsequently manufactured part through the aerospace supply chain.

To do this, we’re providing our expertise in distributed systems technologies to develop the underlying infrastructure for the secure real-time sharing of digital AM data, which feeds into Valuechain’s new AI analytics tools. The VITALam project will develop and commercialise a shared digital platform to optimise additive manufacturing by reducing waste, improving material utilisation, reducing the amount of testing on the powder and to support certification.

The entire supply chain, from aerospace original equipment manufacturers and additive manufacturing agencies, plant vendors, materials vendors and post-processing suppliers, will be able to securely exchange and benefit from real-time intelligence and performance monitoring to optimise product quality and productivity levels. This will accelerate aerospace’s game-changing AM technology advances, which have the potential to disrupt all advanced manufacturing sectors with more economical and environmentally friendly component design and production techniques. The project will develop a working prototype that will be piloted by Airbus and several small businesses.

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International collaboration for industrial innovation and sustainability

The UK Germany Global Challenge focused on AI and DLT to draw maximum benefit from data in industrial settings and reduce carbon emissions in logistics

This year we launched the first ever Digital Catapult Global Challenge for the UK and Germany in partnership with Deutschland - Land der Ideen, Siemens and CHEP Europe to drive international collaboration for industrial innovation and sustainability. Working with our partners, we set two challenges to the startup and scaleup communities in the UK and Germany, looking for solutions that used artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technologies to interpret and share IoT sensor data from industrial manufacturing, and how to minimise carbon footprints by optimising supply chain logistics with early flexible forecasting of resources.

We established the programme to drive new opportunities for bilateral cooperation and growth, and to build strong relationships between the UK and German innovation ecosystems. Both countries are global leaders in the supply and demand of transformative industrial applications of advanced digital technologies like AI and DLT.

Siemens wanted to use AI and machine learning to gain operational insights, gain better understanding of customer usage and behaviour, and to inform predictive maintenance.

CHEP Europe, a Brambles company, set a challenge revolving around grocery freight. The company provides a ‘pallet as a service’ concept to a high proportion of the flow of goods from grocery suppliers into retailers across Europe, and wanted to use its transport scale and visibility to help customers improve truck fill and take unneeded capacity off the roads, with consequential benefits in cost, CO2, pollution, congestion and drivers’ time.

The UK Germany Global Challenge is currently underway with final to be held later in 2020

Innovation is the motor for solving social challenges. In this respect, Germany is highly dependent on the exchange with other countries. We can only maintain our position in global competition through international dialogue, especially when it comes to modern technologies. The Global Challenge is the ideal platform for this.

UTE E. Weiland