The Connected Digital Economy Catapult (DigiCat)

The Digital Catapult is a private, not-for-profit research organization; a national centre set up to support innovation in digital products and services and to reduce risk for innovators, so new digital products and services can be accelerated to market.
Our vision is to rapidly advance the best digital ideas from concept to commercialisation.
We do this by collaborating and engaging in strategic projects with large and small digital economy players, acting as a neutral convenor for industry, research and academia and the wider innovation community, with a clear focus on the European digital economy data value chain.
Established in early 2013, The Digital Catapult collaborates with digital champions across academia, industry and the creative SME communities to unlock four specific challenges that will accelerate new economic growth and the launch of new products to market around:

  • Closed Datasets – “Creating secure environments that allow organisations to safely mix their closedorganisational data and open it up to data innovators”, thus allowing institutions to understand the value of their close data when exploited in horizontal domains and fostering, in subsequent phases, open up of more data.
  • Creating trust in personal data – “Giving innovators a competitive advantage in using personal data”, focusing on empowering the users to receive back their personal data and control them, allowing to generate new personalized services and new value, which will increase user trust in the digital economy.
  • Internet of Things – “Enabling large scale “real world” demonstrators to help innovators prototype, test and grow their IoT ideas”
  • Content reuse, discoverability and data integration – “Enabling thousands of creators to be world class in the way they discover, integrate and reuse content.”

The Catapult is an affiliate member of the London node of the EIT digital, full member of the Big Data Value Association, of the AIOTI alliance and of EARTO (European Association of Research and Technology Organisations), and has formal partnerships with world class digital and design clusters across the UK (such as Cambridge Wireless and London Shoreditch/TechCity) plus access to the UK KTN (Knowledge Transfer Network), a single overarching national network covering a number of specific fields of technology or business application, with nearly 6000 registered innovation-intensive businesses.
Within the UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) community, the Digital Catapult has also helped to set up possibly the EU’s largest IoT community comprising over 1500 businesses. In addition, the Catapult actively supports the development of next generation connectivity, such as 5G, white space communications and the Janet academic network with a 100Gbps channel.
Furthermore, in the area of Personal Data and Trust, DigiCat has set up The Personal Data & Trust Network which aims to build and nurture a community that brings together industry, the public sector, funders, research organisations, individual researchers and innovators to support the UK in becoming the global leader in trust and responsible innovation with personal data. It currently counts with over 200 members who discuss  about issues related to personal data, identify best practices in dealing with them and identify innovative ways forward. One of this being the Trust Framework Initiative (TFI), which DigiCat launched with the involvement and support of relevant stakeholders in the space of personal data (e.g., Mydex, HAT, NHS, Barclays, etc).
The overall aim of it is to recognize the need and put in practice the required legal, technical and commercial solutions that will empower the users to control and give consent on the usage of their personal data. The overall value of this will be demonstrated in high value use cases able to demonstrate that friction can be reduced and more value generate when a user-centric approach is taken, thus increasing user trust and confidence from citizens in the new digital economy “black oil”, the data collection and their exploitation.

These established networks are instrumental to enable the Catapult engage with UK-based SMEs working in the cybersecurity and the personal data areas on its ongoing community building activities.
The Digital Catapult is an organization that works at arms length to the UK government, with neutral positioning, with a Personal Data and Trust strategy focused on creating and stimulating ecosystems and lowering access barriers. To this purpose DigiCat recently launched the Trust Framework Initiative to convene relevant stakeholders ideas and work to deliver user-centric solutions which empower user control on her personal data, thus increasing her trust and reducing friction in contributing to more personalized and tailored services, reducing the cost for governments, SMEs and increasing value for the users.
The Catapult is currently working on a portfolio of projects that accelerate the use of big data science infrastructure to facilitate the analysis of closed, proprietary and personal data in innovative ways without compromising ownership, privacy or identity. Connecting data with those who have the know-how to exploit it in innovative ways, we create a symbiotic relationship between data owners and data innovators. This takes place in realistic environments with access to infrastructure and real users (citizens, drivers, buyers, tourists…).
Our role is to build trust with the data owners, provide services through a ‘capability hub’ and technology platform to SMEs to help them understand how to benefit from big data science and be a partner in new ecosystems and projects we design with other partners in close collaboration. We have multidisciplinary expertise in user experience, data, privacy and trust in the IoT domain. To this purpose the TFI is focusing on four working streams, accessible through membership, to stimulate discussion with relevant stakeholders and identifying problem and solutions for a user-centric approach to personal data collection and usage. Legal, technical, commercial and customer experiences streams have been identified.