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The U.K.’s Smart Cities Lab Is Bad Value For Money

The U.K.’s Smart Cities Lab Is Bad Value For Money
Futute Cities Catapult's Urban Innovation Centre

The Government-funded body set up to research the cities of the future has been criticised in a new report.

The Future Cities Catapult is one of 10 "catapult" research bodies in different sectors which have received a total of £750M of public funding since 2011.

It was set up to bridge the gap between academic research into smart cities and the commercial world, in order to make Britain a world leader in the sector. The body has undertaken some innovative projects, including research into how neuroscience can be used in the design of cities to make them better reflect the way people think and feel.

But a report commissioned by the Government as it considers whether to renew the funding of the catapult organisations has picked out the Future Cities Catapult as one of three that have come nowhere near hitting the target of having a third of their funding come from commercialising the research they are enabling.

The Future Cities Catapult had missed funding targets even though they had been reduced by a third, and the report, undertaken by EY, said it lacked a clear structure and plan for how to achieve commercial goals.

The report said a strategy should put in place with milestones and a plan of how to hit them over the next 12 months. If it does not hit those targets, EY recommended considering cutting its funding.

Its funding for the next 12 months is not going to be cut, according to the Sunday Times.

A spokeswoman for the Future Cities Catapult said: "The review found that some catapults require a greater level of financial and performance management to demonstrate and achieve long-term economic impact. All three catapults have had a recent change in CEO and closer monitoring measures will drive and improve performance as the new leadership is fully established.
"These catapults will be implementing new, robust and focused delivery plans with a detailed plan of activities and milestones for the next 12 months.  This will be agreed with Innovate UK to ensure that the catapults address new economic challenges and Industrial Strategy priorities and demonstrate that they are on track to deliver their long-term goals.”