× Medicines Discovery Catapult

Started in 2012, the Catapult Network is a long-term investment for the benefit of UK businesses. They offer world-class facilities and expertise to help businesses innovate and grow. The Catapult Network is based on successful international models, which generate income from a balance of public grant, collaborative R&D awards and commercial contracting. They operate in areas where the UK has significant economic opportunities and an international competitive advantage to drive growth.

The purpose of Catapult Centres is to remove barriers to innovation, help existing firms and new entrants to increase competition and innovation in the economy. They address these market failures by:

  • strengthening industry-academia links (maximising impact of our world-class science base)
  • maintaining open-access, unique cutting-edge facilities which individual companies could not afford to invest in, particularly SMEs
  • helping to build ecosystems conducive to innovation, by assisting regulators to be agile in response to technological advancement

The Catapults are private entities, which work in close partnership with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation and industry. They bring together the best people in their fields with over £850m of world-class unique facilities and expertise to rapidly advance UK R&D into global commercial success, making them a key part of key part of our contribution to delivering the Government’s industrial strategy. Catapults achieve their aims by bringing together a mixture of expertise, skills, facilities, equipment and collaborations needed to support companies to shape and pioneer the markets of the future. They work with companies to develop and drive new and improved products, processes and services from UK businesses into those markets.

In the five years since the first Catapults were established, they have supported around 3,000 small businesses to identify, develop and exploit new technologies, products and services, making businesses more productive, helping boost exports and attracting inward investment.

The Government recently announced £1 billion over the next 5 years to create the technologies of the future in support of the ambition to raise UK R&D to 2.4% of GDP. This funding is being deployed in existing Catapult Centres including High Value Manufacturing, Cell and Gene Therapy, Satellite Applications, Offshore Renewables, Energy Systems, Compound Semiconductors, Medicines Discovery, Digital, Future Cities and Transport.

Purpose of Role

The Director of the Catapult Network Development Office (CaNDO) is a new role. Whilst individual Catapults have been very successful there is tremendous value in the development of the Network and the CEOs of the Catapult Centres have agreed to fund a new secretariat to drive the development of the Network. The CaNDO Director will establish this office and develop plans and present them to the newly formalised Catapult Network CEO Forum

There are three initial areas for development;

1. Interactions with Government

Whilst the main Government sponsor is BEIS, headed by the Secretary of State and supported in particular by the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, interactions can be widespread across key departments e.g. Health, Energy, Transport and Treasury. Although well supported the Catapults are still a new instrument for delivering Government innovation policy and they can sometimes be poorly understood. Individual Catapults have enjoyed some success in driving innovation with targeted funding, but the Network has not successfully deployed its value proposition yet.

Whilst individual Catapults will still interact with key stakeholder departments, the CaNDO director will: raise awareness levels in Government, improve understanding of how HMG can partner individually with Catapults and with the Network as a whole, and coordinate large scale proposals/bids from the Network.

2. Interactions with Innovate UK

Interfacing with The Director of Major Programmes Governance along with the Head of Catapult Network Governance and Performance ensuring that interactions of the whole network are efficient and effective for both routine operations and for the mid-term and five-year review process.

3. Internal Cross Catapult Activity

Collaboration between Catapults often occurs on an ad hoc basis. The CaNDO director will increase collaboration by systematically identifying opportunities and projects facilitating synergistic bids. We have a collective story to tell and the director will coordinate network level Communication to various stakeholders. There are various Cross Catapult groups including a Finance group, Technology group and HR group. These groups have primarily spent time either interfacing with Innovate UK or sharing best practice across the Network however they are potentially a significant repository of expertise and Network leverage. These groups are largely self-regulating but lack overall strategic guidance. The CaNDO Director will engage with the Chairs of these working groups to develop annual business plans for approval by the Catapult CEO Forum. The Director will channel reporting to the CEO Network Forum

Key Accountabilities

  • To work with the Chair of the Network Forum to establish the CaNDO secretariat and the processes by which CaNDO will interact with the Chair and the Chairs Deputy, The Network and individual Catapult CEOs, Innovate UK and the various Government Stakeholders.
  • To raise awareness of the Catapult Network with key Parliamentarians and their advisors, APPGs and other forums to drive engagement, raising visibility of the offer and capabilities, facilitating appropriate involvement of Catapult Executives and board memberes in engagement opportunities.
  • To raise awareness of the Catapult network with key Government officials to drive engagement, raise visibility of the offer and capabilities, facilitating appropriate involvement of Catapult Executives and board members in engagement opportunities as appropriate.
  • To improve understanding of how HMG can partner with Catapults individually and collectively to deliver policy objectives, nationally, within geographical regions or in specific sectors.
  • To coordinate large scale network bids by approaching HMG with a clear single voice, leveraging collective assets to achieve maximum impact.
  • To work with Innovate UK leadership to understand and develop the Catapult Network value proposition.
  • To understand the successes and challenges of the network during the first five years of establishment and operation to ensure that the next five-year programme builds on that success and learns from any issues.
  • To work with Innovate UK to establish meaningful but pragmatic review processes for both midterm and five-year cycles
  • To work with Innovate UK communications to position and promote the network
  • To work with Chairs of Cross Catapult groups to establish annual business plans that drive value for the network and to report on progress
  • To establish budgets and ensure that CaNDO is funded and controlled from Catapult resources


  • Demonstrable previous experience as a senior leader capable of securing authoritative engagement with Government officials, likely to have extensive knowledge of Whitehall, Innovation and the long-term issues that the Catapult network has been designed to solve
  • Will operate at Director level
  • Experienced in managing multiple stakeholders at all levels of an organisation.
  • An experienced communicator that has the requisite gravitas to drive engagement and action.
  • Ability to understand complex information and translate into practical actions.
  • Experienced in developing and embedding new business processes and solutions
  • Confident in managing, influencing and presenting to senior stakeholders.
  • Experienced in managing multiple simultaneous projects, along with expectations and deliverables
  • Strong demonstrable experience of ensuring the highest levels of corporate governance
  • 5+ years’ experience of working at a senior level within a similar position

Knowledge / Skills / Competencies

  • Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to influence in a complex environment.
  • Strong understanding of innovation and the initiatives designed to improve the uptake of innovation to drive productivity and wealth creation
  • Strong political acumen including understanding of complex environment with good decision making skills.
  • Comfortable operating autonomously
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Accurate with a strong focus on attention to detail.

Education / Qualifications

  • Degree, or equivalent qualification


This new position is field based but can use the offices of any Catapult centre in the UK. Frequent travel to Catapult Centres, Innovate UK in Swindon and Government Departments (especially BEIS) in London is expected. The Employing Catapult will be the High Value Manufacturing Catapult