BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable announced new investment in UK hi-tech start-ups as he praised cutting-edge research in Oxfordshire on Tuesday.
He was at the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell, home to small businesses specialising in Global Information Systems (GIS) and other technology used in space satellites.
The Catapult, one of seven centres around the UK, costs £10m a year to run and is funded by the Government’s Technology Strategy Board, although it aims to generate revenue from hiring out facilities and experts.
Dr Cable said another two centres would be set up in 2015-16, but did not reveal where in the UK they would be.
He said: “Catapult centres have made a significant contribution over the last year, supporting businesses and developing new technologies.
“Total public and private sector investment in Catapults so far is £1.4bn and further investment will follow.
“By committing to investment in new technologies now, we are laying foundations for the high-growth businesses of the future. “This will allow them to grow, take on more employees and keep the UK at the forefront of global innovation.”
One of the new centres aims to create energy systems to meet future demand, while the other will allow businesses to develop new personalised medical treatments.
Dr Cable said the location should be decided by industrial and academic advisers, but he urged them to “draw on the excellence of centres across the UK, not just in the south”.
One of the small firms in Harwell’s Catapult, Rezatec, uses satellite data to measure levels of carbon in the world’s forests to prevent deforestation by rapidly industrialising countries.
Another, WeatherSafe, has developed an ‘app’ which allows Rwandan farmers to access weather information, improve the management of their coffee crop and fight pests.