Vince Cable popped in to the Business Design Centre on Tuesday to announce a £150m funding boost for London, which could help local entrepreneurs.
The Lib Dem minister and Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills was speaking at the Innovate UK conference to promote the Future Cities Catapult. Expected to be up and running by the end of next year, it aims to integrate services such as energy, transport, healthcare and waste to serve cities better.
A series of seven projects across the UK will aim to help the best brains from academia, business and industry work together to find solutions to problems such as renewable energy and digital infrastructure.
Cable said: “These are national centres of excellence, promoting innovation in collaboration with business. 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.”
An initial £50m investment will be made through the government funded Technology Strategy Board (TSB). The plan is to raise a further £50m over a period of time through collaboration on government contracts. The final third is expected to come from businesses working in the area.
The money will be directed to areas of London well connected in terms of local and international transport, universities, and have a reputation for start up businesses. This means Tech City – with companies on Old Street – is a prime candidate for the cash, as well as Canary Wharf and Wood Wharf in Greenwich.
Dr Richard Miller, Head of Sustainability for the TSB, said: “We need people-friendly solutions, we have to put citizens at the heart of the city. In order to do that we need people who understand how people make choices, how people live their lives.
“It’s about thinking about the totality of the city because that’s the challenge we have. If we just carry on improving the individual bits we can go so far. To make that step we need to think about the whole of the city.”
Cable also announced Sir David King will chair the board of the Future Cities Catapult. King has been Chief Scientific Advisor to the previous Labour government and is currently Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University.
He said: “The challenges the modern city faces globally as we move through the 21st century cannot be underestimated. I am honoured to have been appointed chair of the Future Cities Catapult which will tackle some of the most critical issues we currently face as a society.”