Empowering business growth: Catapults are fuelling economic growth

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Catapults, funded by Innovate UK, drive UK economic growth by helping innovative businesses turn ideas into reality, clearly demonstrated by new economic analysis.

Each of the UK’s nine Catapults are funded by Innovate UK to drive innovation and commercialisation at the interface between universities and business. These Catapults fuel economic growth in the UK by enabling innovative businesses to turn great ideas into reality.

New evidence, published today, demonstrates the significant long-term value that Catapults bring to our UK economy.

Working with the Enterprise Research Centre and Innovation Caucus, Innovate UK carried out a survey of 300 businesses that have worked with the Catapults.

The findings of this analysis are overwhelmingly positive.

Cutting-edge research and development (R&D) facilities and world class technical expertise

Established by Innovate UK in 2011, Catapults are physical centres with a unique combination of cutting-edge R&D facilities and world class technical expertise.

There are nine Catapults, working in over fifty locations, in every region and nation of the UK:

These Catapults include hubs, laboratories, testbeds, factories, and offices, each powered by experts who bring innovators together, to prove and adopt breakthrough products, services, and technologies. They work across the boundary between universities and business and are particularly focused on late-stage R&D, helping innovative businesses get their high potential ideas to market.

Driving accelerated growth and high-quality products

Of the 300 businesses that had worked with at least one Catapult, 80% of these businesses stated that their innovative projects would not have happened, or not have happened at the same speed, without Catapult involvement.

80% also said that Catapults helped to improve the quality of their products and services.

This means that businesses working with Catapults are more likely to get a product or project to market, and this product is of higher quality than it would be otherwise.

According to 90% of the businesses surveyed, Catapults also play a significant role in helping innovative businesses form partnerships. These partnerships are crucial for the success of innovative projects, enabling the pooling of expertise, resources, shared risks, market access, and accelerated development.

Innovate UK’s Catapults drive an increase in turnover and employment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Innovate UK’s mission is to support and fund innovative businesses and research organisations, with the ultimate aim of driving economic growth through innovation.

This new evidence, looking at long-term impact of working with Catapults, shows the significant difference that Catapults can make to SMEs, and to our economy.

Findings show that employment grew 11% faster, after three years, for businesses working with Catapults, with this rising to 16% faster after six years.

The turnover of small and micro businesses that worked with Catapults rose by 27% when compared with other similar businesses, rising to a huge 50% increase after six years.

This is a significant medium-to-long-term impact for those businesses prepared to take the plunge and invest in R&D, supported by the unique combination of facilities and expertise in our Catapults.

Stories behind the data

This economic data backs up case studies and success stories from businesses who tell us that Catapults’ expertise and resources had a transformative effect on their ability to innovate.

Case studies from across the Catapults

Next steps for Innovate UK and our Catapults

Innovate UK’s plan for action highlights the important role that our Catapults can play within a vibrant innovation ecosystem.

Last year’s Autumn Statement confirmed a 35% increase in Innovate UK support for Catapults over the next five years: a total of £1.6 billion.

This is based on Innovate UK developing a bold and ambitious new deal with and for Catapults, driving even greater impact, focus, and private sector leverage across our UK-wide system.

Catapults will build on their critical role at the heart of our strategies to address net zero, digital and tech and healthy living and agriculture; Innovate UK will ensure that its investments in these areas, and across the innovation ecosystem, are working together for maximum impact.

Catapults are also significant players in our work on levelling up, on future skills, and in delivering equality and diversity across our innovation ecosystem.

If the UK is to further secure its place as a global leader in innovation. Businesses across the world need to see the UK innovation system as the place to move their innovations up the value chain. Catapults, working as part of the Innovate UK system, are key drivers for this frontier innovation.


Catapults are UK innovation assets with strong multiplier effects. They are valuable investments for Innovate UK, proven to drive growth across the economy. As our Catapults continue to play a key role within the UK’s innovation ecosystem, the benefits to our economy and society will be significant.

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Top image:  Credit: Catapult Network

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