London has been chosen to host the ‘catapult’ centre leading the Technology Strategy Board’s Future Cities strategy, with up to £150 million funding to support the development of smart city technologies.
Business Secretary Vince Cable announced that the London catapult will be launched later this year, and will be tasked with looking at ways to integrate services across a number of areas including health, transport, energy and public safety.
The catapult will receive up to £50 million over the next five years through the Technology Strategy Board, with expectations that private sector funding will increase this to a total of £150 million.
The government believes that the global market opportunities for smarty cities could be up to £200 billion a year by 2030.
The London-based catapult will also collaborate with the Future Cities demonstrator, which is being hosted in Glasgow with £24 million funding from the TSB. It is hoped that the development of smart city technologies can be sold to other countries in the future.
“One of the decisions of this government I am most proud of is establishing a chain of Catapults across the UK,” Cable said. “These are national centres of excellence, promoting innovation in collaboration with business.”
He added: “The Future Cities Catapult centre will be hosted in London, working in collaboration with the Future Cities demonstrator project in Glasgow. This latest addition to the Catapults network will complement those established in high value manufacturing, satellite applications, cell therapy, offshore renewable energy, transport systems and connected digital economy."
Former chief scientific advisor to the government, Sir David King, will chair the project effective immediately, and will begin looking for a chief executive for the catapult.
Chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board Iain Gray commented: “We are pleased that Sir David will join the Future Cities Catapult. His great knowledge and experience and ability to tackle complex issues will be of a huge benefit to the Catapult and the businesses it will work with.”
He added: “London is recognised as a truly international city. Its unique set-up including national and international transportation links, world-class universities, leading engineering, construction and digital businesses and highly-skilled staff makes it the perfect place for the Catapult.”
Last week London Mayor Boris Johnson announced the formation of a board of academics, entrepreneurs and businesses to develop smart city technologies that can benefit both the economy and the millions of citizens in the UK residing in urban environments.
However, the UK's position on smart city innovation has been called into question, with SAP's global VP of Urban Matters, Sean O’Brien, recently stating that austerity threatens to stifle the development of smart urban applications.