Digital Catapult has revealed a new CEO as it celebrates its tenth anniversary.

The non-profit funded by Innovate UK, an authority on advanced digital technology, has marked a decade of stimulus and impact in sectors such as telecoms, manufacturing and the creative industries.

Susan Bowen will lead it for the next 10 years after replacing Dr Jeremy Silver, who has held the role since June 2016, from this coming March.

Bowen is on the board of Versarien plc, an advanced materials firm based in Cheltenham, and has recently held the position of CEO and president at Aptum Group, a Canadian multi-cloud managed service provider. She previously held senior positions at Hewlett Packard and is a member of the Forbes Technology Council.

Silver is a Trustee Board Member of the British Library, and a Director of AQ Ltd and FeedForward.AI. Silver is also an author, angel investor and supporter of the creative industries, having done much to establish the UK’s immersive content sector during his time at Digital Catapult. 

As a key supporter of the Catapult programme, Silver was also Chair of the Catapult Network for a year from 2021-2022.

Founded in 2013, Digital Catapult has consistently signposted areas of opportunity offered by new technologies and created strategic programmes and facilities to enable UK companies to be successful early adopters. Over the last five years alone, Digital Catapult has helped 174 startups to raise £555 million, engaged with nearly 3,000 companies, and delivered 303 projects and programmes. 

Since its inception, Digital Catapult has opened 20 facilities across the country and quintupled its headcount from 50 in 2013 to over almost 300  this year. The amount of private investment raised by companies who have worked with Digital Catapult over the last 10 years is around £4bn. 

“We are grateful to Jeremy for the solid foundation he has built for Digital Catapult,” said Digital Catapult chair Juergen Maier. “We are excited to welcome Susan to lead the organisation through its next phase of accelerating the UK’s digital future.

“Susan’s background in large and scale-up tech organisations demonstrates a deep understanding of where advanced technology holds the most possibility to break through barriers to UK growth.”

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Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, said: “Innovate UK is committed to supporting growth and increased productivity across the UK through our portfolio of products and services. 

“The Catapults provide a unique combination of world-class expertise and facilities, connecting research excellence with business impact. As an important part of our Digital & Technologies domain, we recognise Jeremy’s and Digital Catapult’s role in driving digital transformation and adoption to unlock the UK’s economic potential. 

“I look forward to working with Susan as Digital Catapult continues to drive greater impact across the innovation ecosystem.”

Bowen said: “Helping companies commercialise new solutions is something I’ve long been passionate about and have had the benefit of driving at Aptum and HP and of course in my role on the board of Versarien and previously at techUK and Jisc. 

“Translating that experience into a valuable contribution towards the UK’s economic growth, and indeed the creation of a greener future, is exciting and I’m eager to get started.”

Digital Catapult has identified three major areas of applied technology where the UK has an opportunity for global leadership. These cross-sector application areas combine advanced digital technologies like 5G and AI to generate tangible benefits in the real world. They are in digital infrastructure, virtual environments and supply chains. 

Across these three areas, Digital Catapult is driving over £270m worth of collaborative R&D and commercial programmes, which are helping hundreds of companies to be successful early adopters of advanced digital technology, increasing interoperability between their products, reducing carbon emissions and demonstrating the market value of new approaches.

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