Dick Elsy, ex-CEO of UK-based technology company Torotrak, is to head up a new UK government initiative called the 'High Value Manufacturing Catapult'.

Combining seven centres of excellence around the UK, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult is intended to bridge the gap between business, academia and other research organisations. The aim is to help high value tech businesses develop and commercialise advanced technologies emerging from Britain’s research base. Its long-term aim is to boost significantly the contribution of manufacturing to the UK economy.

When Elsy takes up the reins at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult from 1st October, his main responsibility will be to ensure that the organisation maximises its impact on the growth of the manufacturing industry in the UK, delivering on 'realistic yet ambitious business-driven goals'.

An official release said that businesses that 'engage with the Catapult' will reduce the operational and financial risk associated with creating new and profitable products, processes and services.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Innovation, and our Catapult centres in particular, are central to our plans for sustainable economic growth and our emerging industrial strategy. Catapults are key in making sure that we are building the groundwork for a bright future, and giving businesses the confidence to develop and market new and innovative products and technologies.

“Dick Elsy has an excellent track record and exactly the sort of experience and skills in business, design and engineering which our Catapult centres need.”

“To be asked to lead the High Value Manufacturing Catapult is a great privilege,” said Dick Elsy. “This ground-breaking initiative is now poised to play a key role in the drive to rebalance our economy. There is tremendous innovation in United Kingdom, and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, and the other Catapults,  have been set up to unlock the commercial value of such innovation and to maximise this value capture in the UK.  I am very much looking forward to realising this ambitious goal, to joining an already hugely successful team, and to meeting with existing and future customers and industrial partners.”

Bob Gilbert, Chairman of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult said: “We are delighted that Dick has accepted the challenge of becoming our first full-time Chief Executive.  His past experience will serve him well in this exciting yet demanding position as we build on the strong foundations established by the current management team and take the Catapult forward to support a wide range of UK-based companies, large and small, in their efforts to commercialise great technologies emerging from our world-class research base.”

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said: “We are thrilled to have someone of Dick’s stature and experience to lead the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. The UK has an excellent history of delivering cutting-edge manufacturing products and solutions. The Catapult will be at the heart of the next phase of this story, helping both new and established UK-based manufacturing businesses to take advantage of lucrative global markets through the development of high-value products, processes and services to the long-term benefit of the UK economy.”

Catapults form part of the UK government’s economic growth strategy and are designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation. The Catapult programme was announced by the British Prime Minister in October 2010 and is being established and overseen by the Technology Strategy Board.