Bringing innovation to life

Located in the heart of the South Wales compound semiconductor cluster, CSconnected, the Catapult works closely with our cluster partners, achieving the additionality and critical mass required to address global market opportunities. The Catapult is also at the centre of the UK’s innovation ecosystem, actively working with clusters of world-leading expertise in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and from North East England to the South West. 

Taken together, these clusters present a formidable engineering capability, enabling the UK to punch well above its weight on the global stage.

The Catapult’s 3,000 sqm innovation centre provides access to highly integrated facilities, where companies can simulate their products, develop prototypes and carry out validation using state-of-the-art instruments – all supported by the Catapult’s team of expert engineers. Since opening in 2019, there has been a steady stream of innovative companies accessing this unique combination of capabilities and expertise.

  • The UK Government is committed to meeting its 2050 net zero emissions pledge. I saw first-hand how the CSA Catapult Innovation Centre will help us reach our ambitious goal and put the country at the forefront of green innovation during my visit to Newport today.

    Rt Hon Simon Hart

    Secretary of State for Wales

De-risking development

Developing new products involves technical risk and investment uncertainty. When a new silicon chip is designed, the manufacturer provides an ‘evaluation module’ for developers to assess its performance and accelerate its adoption. The Catapult has adapted this approach with the use of evaluation modules (EVMs) to de-risk the adoption of new compound semiconductor chips.

Our EVMs focus on the riskier aspects of product development, reducing uncertainty at the cutting edge – where the market is reluctant to invest. In 2018, we developed a double-pulse EVM to characterize the performance of new GaN and SiC power devices. Whilst this technique is often used for silicon devices, our EVM featured high precision metrology operating at elevated voltages and currents to evaluate the latest SiC and GaN devices. Using our characterization expertise, this EVM can rapidly assess the performance of SiC and GaN devices over a wide range of operating parameters.

Whilst the EVM was initially launched as a research project, its characterization capability proved to be invaluable when assessing new SiC devices for automotive applications, as part of a sovereign supply chain initiative, and the EVM is now integral to an R&D project. This innovative approach to device characterization was recognized by the UK’s trade association TechWorks, winning their R&D Excellence award in 2019.

Following the early success of the double pulse EVM, the Catapult has expanded its EVM programme, applying EVMs to 11 projects involving over 80 organisations, and crowding in over £41m of investment. We continue to scan the market to assess ideas for future EVMs that will create a similar level of impact.

Agile solutions

With a potential client base of around 5,000 UK companies, the Catapult has developed an agile approach to providing innovation support. Most of these companies (approximately 90%) are SMEs along with a regular stream of start-ups and university spin-outs. We have tailored our support to meet their requirements, offering solution-orientated ‘bite-size’ access to our facilities and expertise, coupled with introductions to our vast network, to overcome the challenges they encounter as they scale-up their businesses.