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Frequently asked questions

What is a Catapult?

Catapults bridge the gap between research and commercial reality. They work with UK businesses, scientists and engineers to turn ideas into new products and services that will generate economic growth. There are ten Catapults around the UK, each specialising in a different type of technology.

What does Future Cities Catapult do?

We help other organisations accelerate their urban ideas to market, to help make cities healthier, safer, more efficient places, whilst also growing the UK economy. We bring together businesses, universities and city leaders that understand the problems that cities face, now and in the future. Then, we provide additional support with our multidisciplinary team and world-class facilities to help them create the most effective solutions.

Who do you work with?

Primarily we work with universities, large businesses, SMEs and city authorities. But we’re open-minded and always interested in working with anyone who’s passionate about urban innovation.

We’re an SME working in the future cities sector. How can you help us?

We provide a wide range of support for SMEs. To help you build capacity we run a broad program of events, from networking sessions and weekend-long hackathons to training courses and grant application workshops. We also run an ongoing series of open calls, through which you can apply to become involved in one of the projects we’re currently working on.

I work at a large company. Is Future Cities Catapult able to work with us on a project?

We’re always interested in partnering with large organisations that can make a dramatic impact on a city, whether they specialise in software systems, civil engineering or any other aspect of the urban realm. Please get in touch to find out how we might be able to work together.

I work within a city administration. Can you help us innovate?

We’re passionate about helping cities around the world adopt new technologies and processes. Whether you’d simply like to understand the urban innovation options open to you in more detail, or wish to have us carry out an entire project for your city, we can assemble a team that will help you prepare for the future. Please get in touch to find out more.

Do you provide consultancy services for businesses and cities?

Our primary focus is to enable innovation by helping UK businesses and universities turn research into real products that are used in cities. We can, however, help you identify which new technologies and services may be best suited to your city’s needs, or provide impartial advice about which SMEs might be able to help your business evolve and adapt. Please get in touch to discuss how we could help you.

What kinds of projects have you worked on recently?

We’re typically working on many different projects at any one time. See our current and past projects on the projects page.

How is Future Cities Catapult funded?

We receive core public funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s Government-funded innovation agency. In the long term, we plan to match this funding with equal contributions from both competitively won Collaborative Research and Development grants and privately-funded business contracts.

Do you provide funding for SMEs?

No, sorry. We’re not a funding agency and don’t offer grants, loans or other direct financial support. As part of our SME support, however, we can provide you with advice about raising private finance, help you identify the best grant-funding sources, or potentially partner with you on a larger bid application.

How can I get involved?

To become involved with one of our existing projects, you’ll need to apply to work on it through one of our open calls. You can check what we’re currently looking for and apply online here.

I’ve got a great idea for a project that we could work on together. What should I do?

We’re always interested in hearing about potential project ideas. We’re currently focussing on three core themes:

• Resilient Places, to make cities more sustainable and integrated
• Healthy Cities, to improve quality of life for citizens
• City Strategies, to develop best practices that will help cities work more effectively

If you have a viable proposal that could fit into one of these themes, please get in touch with us and we’ll see if we can create something together.

My community could benefit from the technology in a Future Cities Catapult project. How can I bring it to my area?

The first step in bringing a new product or service to your area is to approach the local authority for advice and permission. After that, the biggest barrier is likely to be funding: you may be able to find public or private sources to help, or you might consider crowd-sourcing the scheme.

I’d love to join the Future Cities team. How can I apply?

We’re always looking for talented people who could help us. If you’re interested in working for us on a permanent basis, take a look at our current opportunities and apply online. Alternatively, you may wish to consider a secondment, internship or fellowship with us.

Can Future Cities Catapult publicise my event for me?

Sorry, we don’t publicise events that we’re not directly involved with. You can, however, apply to host your cities-related event — whether it’s a small meeting or multi-day conference — at our Urban Innovation Centre. The event can then be publicised on the Urban Innovation Centre website.

What kind of people work at Future Cities Catapult?

Urban innovation deals with large and complex problems that demand a diverse range of skills. That’s why we have a correspondingly multidisciplinary team including designers, data scientists, developers, ethnographers, economists, engineers, planners, architects, technologists and more.

What skills does Future Cities Catapult offer?

Our multidisciplinary team offers nine core services that can be utilised across a broad range of projects. They include: Urban Strategies, Insights and Service Design, Market Development, Prototyping, Urban Analytics, SME Engagement, Performance in Use, City Standards, and Convening and Dissemination. Learn more about how you can make use of these services.

How can I keep track of what Future Cities Catapult is working on?

Sign up to our regular email newsletter at the bottom of the page and we’ll send you news, collaboration opportunities, upcoming events and job openings straight to your inbox. Or, for more regular news about what we’re doing, follow us on Twitter.

What is the Urban Innovation Centre?

First and foremost for us, the Urban Innovation Centre is home to Future Cities Catapult. But it also houses a series of other resident urban innovators all of which are united by a desire to improve the cities of the future. For all of us, it acts as a space where businesses, academics and city leaders can work together to turn ingenious ideas into real products and services that will be used in cities around the world.

What facilities are there at the Urban Innovation Centre?

The Centre is home to our Cities Lab, which provides cutting-edge data analysis, modelling and visualisation capabilities to understand and elucidate city problems. It also acts as the central node where data-streams from our on-the-ground demonstrators around the UK are collated and processed. Finally, it houses a series of spaces that can be used for cities-themed events, from small meetings to multi-day conferences. Download the factsheet for more info on our event spaces

Do you focus on specific kinds of urban problems?

Currently, our projects are focused on three central themes. They are:
• Resilient Places, to make cities more sustainable and integrated
• Healthy Cities, to improve quality of life for citizens
• City Strategies, to develop best practices that will help cities work more effectively.

Can I visit the Urban Innovation Centre?

Certainly, but please arrange a visit before you stop by. You can view forthcoming events and sign up to attend them on the here. If you’re interested in using a space at the Centre, you can apply to host your event here. Or, if you’re simply interested in knowing what we’re working on, why not subscribe to our email newsletter (below) or follow us on Twitter?

What is an open call?

It’s one of the primary ways in which we identify new businesses and academics to collaborate with. Our open calls may seek to find a new partner for a large-scale project, gather together companies into a community to inspire each other, or something else entirely. Find out which calls you can apply for now.

Do you only work in London?

No, we work in cities around the UK and the rest of the world — from Bristol and Glasgow, to Sao Paulo and Kolkata.

Why are you based in London?

After extensive research, we decided to base our offices in London to ensure our proximity to a high concentration of national talent. At our Urban Innovation Centre in Clerkenwell, we’re surrounded by the UK’s top architects, engineers, designers, academics, business professionals and technology start-ups. We do, however, work closely with businesses, SMEs and universities around the UK.

What happens to your profits?

We are a not-for-profit organisation. Our revenues are reinvested into our work.

Are you politically aligned?

No. We are funded by Innovate UK but operate as a private company. As an independent organisation we are able to provide entirely impartial advice.

What is a Future City?

That’s a difficult question with no single answer, not least because cities themselves are extremely varied. That’s why we commissioned a report in 2014 to understand the language used to describe modern cities and the innovation occurring within them. For us, though, a future city is one where new technologies are used to improve efficiency, where infrastructure is better integrated, and where citizens are happy, healthy and prosperous.


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