The UK has a very strong research and development sector, renowned on a worldwide basis. Increasingly, however, industrial leaders and policymakers in government are recognising that unless the UK can translate this world-leading knowledge into the products, processes and services that will add to the value of the UK economy and help us address the many challenges we face, the full benefits of our research excellence will not be achieved. For the past nine years, the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult has helped industry, academia and government to exploit more of the UK’s expertise in manufacturing research and development. This review of our activity for the 2019/20 year demonstrates how this work has helped manufacturers of all sizes harness this expertise and use the knowledge obtained to address the future challenges of a changing business environment: improving productivity, reducing carbon emissions, developing more resilent supply chains, and creating more agile manufacturing techniques.
In the closing weeks of the 2019/20 operational year, the HVM Catapult also showed how it can use its unique position in the UK economy to help the nation respond to unprecedented challenges. The cornavirus (COVID-19) pandemic demanded decisive leadership to ensure that the NHS front line had the tools and equipment it needed to care for critically ill patients and limit the spread of the virus within the healthcare system. The HVM Catapult immediately stepped forward. It used its established and trusted relationship with the UK’s manufacturing community to provide the leadership an expertise required to build ventilators, manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and to develop new tools and equipment that would protect the NHS staff who were battling the virus on a daily basis. Without doubt, this swift and effective action by HVM Catapult staff saved many lives.