Digital Catapult helps businesses create. Whether that’s by demonstrating the effectiveness of adopting advanced digital technologies individually or in combination to produce stunning, award-winning immersive experiences, or showing how these technologies can optimise in-factory processes to improve efficiency, yield and the bottom line, our work is focused on boosting UK production to benefit the manufacturing and creative industries.

Digital Catapult plays a critical, hands-on role in helping large organisations on their innovation journey. We know that it’s not always an easy path to tread, so we partner with businesses - from medium sized specialised manufacturers to multinational telecoms providers and world renowned cultural institutions - to scope, refine, guide and implement advanced digital technology solutions that help to solve their challenges and answer business critical questions. We also introduce these large businesses to the UK startup scene, helping industry to understand and explore technology with startups and scaleups for mutual benefit. Because we own the challenge with our partners, we’re dedicated to delivering impact and demonstrating how advanced digital technology can unlock value.

The UK continues to have one of the most vibrant creative scenes in the world - we’re master storytellers and we produce some of the most unique, original and authentic content which resonates with audiences worldwide. Digital Catapult is helping businesses of all sizes figure out how to reach new audiences whilst also producing content that caters for their existing audiences. For the audience itself, our work on programmes like Audience of the Future or partnerships with organisations such as MUNCH, as well as our acceleration programmes like CreativeXR and our world-leading facilities at Dimension and The Imaginarium, are all creating bold, interesting, ambitious experiences that push the boundaries of what’s technically and creatively possible.

Ethical and sustainable practices are a major focus of our work across our sectors and technologies. Our AI Ethics Framework and AI Ethics Committee were created to provide practical advice and guidance for startups and scaleups that are creating the next generation of products and services powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The recently published report on ethics in XR, “The ethics of realism in virtual and augmented reality”, was created with UCL, BBC, HTC Vive and Google among others and explores a range of interesting and important ethical questions about VR and AR. For Digital Catapult, sustainability means thinking ahead. It’s about making sure our work helps make sustainable, long term business models, creating sustainable and long term jobs, as well as ensuring its as environmentally responsible as possible.

Tailored acceleration programmes for trailblazing startups

Dedicated to the UK’s startup community

Our acceleration programmes discover and nurture the best startup talent, and provide funding, mentoring and guidance, access to hardware, software and facilities, as well as access to the UK and international investment community, and large multinational businesses that most small companies would never get the chance to pitch their ideas to.

To date, we’ve welcomed over 200 startups onto these acceleration programmes and, as a result, more than 90 of them have raised over £100 million total investment after engaging with Digital Catapult.

Originally created to focus on their core technology areas, these acceleration programmes have expanded as they have grown, often in direct response to the needs of the startups taking part, and now increasingly look at how technologies can be combined to complement each other.

The most recent CreativeXR cohort includes 5G and AI streams, Machine Intelligence Garage has had an IoT focused cohort fusing AI with the internet of things, and the 5G Testbed Accelerator is increasingly looking for companies in the creative industries to blend their ideas with the most advanced future networks technology on offer.

CreativeXR

Creating immersive experiences that may be too risky to get mainstream funding in partnership with Arts Council England

60

Since 2017

Augmentor

Making commercially viable immersive solutions addressing enterprise-level challenges investment ready

26

Since 2017

5G Testbed Accelerator

Empowering discovery, development and testing for innovative products and services with 5G

15

Since 2018

Future Networks Lab Accelerator

Raising established industrial IoT startups to the next level to rapidly grow and develop their business

6

Since 2020

Machine Intelligence Garage

The only UK AI accelerator that offers business mentoring, technical advice and ethics guidance

100+

Since 2017

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FUTURE NETWORKS

Shaping the practical deployment and integration of 5G into UK industry

5G is an essential component of advanced digital infrastructure and our digital economy

We are privileged to be part of a network of companies across Europe leading in 5G. Our significant technical expertise is fundamental in orchestrating a wide range of projects that will define the rollout of 5G across UK industry in the coming years. We’ve been active in the development of 5G since Digital Catapult was established and have been involved on some of the most important industrial 5G projects in the UK and Europe, from the world’s first 5G low latency multisite live orchestral performance with the University of Bristol Smart Internet Lab and Kings College London, to our unique 5G Testbed Accelerator Programme that gives innovative startups, such as Mativision, Sceenic and VR Craftworks, a boost on their 5G journey.

We’re a neutral broker and a trusted partner and technical authority to organisations across the UK’s 5G ecosystem, from those developing 5G to the government with whom we’re playing a key role in the delivery of the DCMS funded 5G Sector Testbeds and Trials programme.

Our report, “Made in 5G”, launched in 2019, identified the major challenges and opportunities of adopting 5G in the UK’s manufacturing industries and since it was published there has been a significant increase of ‘Industrial 5G’ adoption in the UK, funded publicly (by the DCMS 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme that includes the 5G-ENCODE and 5GEMUK consortium projects) and privately through direct industry investment, including the Industrial 5G Accelerator run by Ericsson and Digital Catapult. This project will create tangible demonstrators of 5G’s unrivalled capability to address important industry use cases, and help companies to understand how 5G can transform products and services.

We operate and own leading 5G testbeds in the UK in London and Brighton that provide open access to commercial level infrastructure and technology that’s usually inaccessible to most organisations. This enables businesses of all sizes to better understand 5G and validate business case assumptions by testing and developing new 5G-enabled products and services. We’re working to create more 5G testbed facilities around the UK, from the West Midlands as part of the 5pring consortium, to Nottingham and the North East.

The connected factory

Demonstrating ROI for IoT in manufacturing

We created the Connected Factory Demonstrator with Dyer Engineering in County Durham and Special Metals Wiggin in Hereford to explore how future networks technologies can unlock productivity, streamline processes, improve yield and increase quality control.

Examples of using internet of things (IoT) technologies for asset tracking within manufacturing are rare, and those that do exist are from larger businesses instead of the medium-sized businesses that make up the majority of the UK’s manufacturing sector. Missing or mislaid parts can result in costly production delays so our real-world demonstrator aimed to show how an asset tracking solution using emerging IoT technologies can be implemented to address and solve this critical business challenge, as well as proving that an IoT network was viable to set up in a factory environment, and provides a return on investment.

Both of these factories cover a significant footprint so understanding the precise location of components is essential; we needed to ensure an accuracy of one metre in order to locate the assets. Both factories also had outdoor storage areas so the sensors and the beacons needed to withstand the weather conditions. Working with ThinkInside, a specialist in indoor intelligence, we installed the beacons and more than a thousand tracking devices. It was also important to make the solution accessible for those who operate the facilities daily so we created a digital display dashboard, and provided scanning devices and training to ensure they could seamlessly integrate the new tracking solution into their day-to-day activities.

Since implementation, both factories have reported productivity benefits through the time saved in locating items - skilled staff can now focus on their tasks rather than spend time searching for misplaced assets. Special Metals Wiggin estimated savings of £2 million per year as the asset tracking solution meant less need for remanufacture of parts. Dyer Engineering estimated a five percent improvement in productivity overall, equivalent to the work of eight people.

Creating better cultural experiences

The pioneering 5G Smart Tourism project in Bristol and Bath was one of the first large-scale demonstrations of the combined power of 5G and immersive technologies to revolutionise how we socialise and interact with cultural experiences

Technologies like IoT, robotics and AI, are transforming UK businesses, but the lack of consistent, high-quality connectivity is preventing them from realising Industry 4.0’s full potential. With its super-fast data rates, ultra-low latency and vastly increased network capacity, 5G provides the solution to this challenge. Ericsson is a world leader in communications technology and we are collaborating with mobile network operators, businesses and agencies such as Digital Catapult to ensure Industry 4.0 is capable of delivering on its promise.

Marielle Lindgren
CEO, ERICSSON UK & IRELAND

Adopting industrial digital technology is of paramount importance to safeguard UK manufacturing for generations to come. We have benefited from the technological pioneers before us and now feel it is our time to pick up the mantle.

Richard Larder
OPERATIONS MANAGER, DYER ENGINEERING

We are excited about the opportunities this will bring to our facility and anticipate that we will make significant advancements to enhance our position in a highly competitive worldwide market for the supply of nickel alloys.

Dr Jonathan Silk
QUALITY AND TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, SPECIAL METALS WIGGIN

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DISTRIBUTED SYSTEMS

Building trust and resilience with DLT

Undertaking pioneering work to explore the potential of distributed ledger technologies

We’re focused on discovering and developing DLT, such as blockchain, to show how this technology can help to create a shared infrastructure by helping companies move away from data ownership and management to understand the shared value of data. Data is worthless without the ability to do something with it, and DLT in combination with AI and 5G can help with better, more robust governance, improved trust and visibility in supply chains, as well as helping to create new business models.

We’ve run three individual, specifically tailored DLT Field Labs for the Oil & Gas sector with the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) in Aberdeen, in the nuclear sector with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in Sellafield, and for UK construction with various major players from across the construction industry. In order to separate fact from fiction around this technology, and break down barriers to adoption, Field Labs help industry understand the technology and deploy successful DLT-based systems where appropriate, exploring how DLT can address commercial and operational challenges, ranging from tracking assets in a warehouse or for movements of high value items such as hazardous waste, keeping an immutable record of spare parts, and for worker certifications to approve and validate competencies.

The Field Labs are a truly collaborative process created to merge commercial, regulatory and research thinking to form a practical roadmap that derisks innovation and sets out how to implement change with DLT as part of the advanced digital technology stack. As part of the Field Labs process, we’ve brought onboard expert support from large legal firms like Mischon de Reya, and the vital input of the UK’s strong DLT startup and scaleup community with companies including Applied Blockchain, Wallet Services, Marine Transport International, Gospel Technology and Blockpass.

We’re thrilled to support Digital Catapult in its exploration of the practical applications of blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies, not just in the legal profession but throughout any number of industries where there is opportunity for impact.

Dr Alastair Moore
HEAD OF ANALYTICS AND MACHINE LEARNING, MISHCON DE REYA

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Ethical and sustainable AI

Machine Intelligence Garage cohort companies are taking the lead in using artificial intelligence to answer ethical questions in managing personal data, and rapid recognition machine learning to boost global recycling rates.

Loomi built an AI personal assistant but unlike most existing AI helpers, it’s not just another voice search engine. Loomi automates the tasks that a real personal assistant would carry out, making a high level of personalised service available, and helping to manage information better. With access to an individual’s personal information, it was essential that Loomi could be trusted to take care of user data with the highest level of information security. Taking part in an AI Ethics Committee deep dive helped inform the product’s development and build, and to make sure that the platform is demonstrably ethical and secure. Loomi now has transparency built into its AI algorithms, so that users can understand at a glance why something is being shown to them.

Greyparrot joined Machine Intelligence Garage to help develop its machine learning algorithms. It uses AI-powered computer vision to rapidly recognise and sort waste by analysing waste streams, monitoring and automating operations to help drive efficiency and profitability for waste managers. Its solution can be used in smart systems and hardware, such as bins, trucks and robotics. It helps to maintain quality levels of recycled materials, mitigate risks by recognising and managing contaminants, and uses insight and analytics to help improve global recycling and recovery rates. Following the 12 months working with the Digital Catapult AI team, Greyparrot has grown from six to eight employees and has so far raised £1.8 million investment.

We were delighted to receive the Best Paper award at the prestigious Neurips 2019 conference for our work on AI for social good. We reviewed a range of tools developed to help adhere to and monitor good ethical practices when developing and deploying AI-driven products and services, with the intention of helping developers, engineers and designers of AI ‘apply ethics’ at each stage of development and to signal to researchers where further work is needed.

Digital Catapult gathered quality investors who were genuinely interested in Greyparrot and our solutions. It was the right audience.

Alisa Pritchard
MARKETING & OPERATIONS, GREYPARROT

One of the key things for us is the ability to build trust. Being part of the Ethics Committee deep dive was an imperative for us, as ethics forms a core part of the essential value of our product.

Al Ramich
FOUNDER & CEO, LOOMI

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IMMERSIVE

Reaching new audiences

Mixing art and augmented reality with MUNCH and Arcade

We are collaborating with MUNCH, Oslo and immersive technology specialists Arcade to create a prototype augmented reality, crowd-sourced immersive experience inspired by Norway’s greatest artist, Edvard Munch, and his approach to art, to inspire children to get creative.

Using cutting-edge AR tech, students aged between 9 and 11 can capture their own original artwork via the app, and place their image, through AR, into the physical world in a location or environment that has meaning for them or is related to the artwork itself.

This experience is built around the idea of place, an idea very important to Munch himself, inspiring students to engage with Edvard Munch’s body of work, as well as his unique way of thinking and creating. The app will amalgamate all of the AR art into a searchable geo-located map, allowing users and contributors to interact with each other’s artworks throughout Norway, exploring different creative methods and eventually creating an augmented reality, crowd-sourced, nationwide piece of art.

This project addresses the challenges of how to bring a wider sense of Edvard Munch’s work and ideas directly to audiences and to do so outside of the traditional bounds of a museum space; that has become even more meaningful during the course of the project.

Digital Catapult’s deep connections across the UK immersive and wider cross-technology innovation communities provided MUNCH with access to the UK market, and the museum was keen to tap into the strengths of the UK ecosystem for this project. We worked closely with MUNCH to define the scope of the project, bringing immersive industry specialists Arcade in to create the augmented reality experience.

The new museum is planned to open in Oslo in autumn 2020 with the app ready for download for pilot-groups around the same time.

During our research we discovered Arcade shares one of Edvard Munch’s core philosophies, of using creativity to connect people to place. Our mediums may differ, but that link was just one reason that we were so thrilled to partner with MUNCH and Digital Catapult to bring this idea to life.

Alex Book
CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, ARCADE