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The Guardian’s Chief Operating and Financial Officer weighs up Digital Catapult’s impact on the creative industries

Posted 28 Nov 2023

After a decade of digital innovation our board share their reflections and look to the future…

As we celebrate Digital Catapult’s ten year anniversary we sat down for an interview with The Guardians Chief Operating & Financial officer and Non-Executive Director, Keith Underwood, to discuss Digital Catapult’s impact.

As a non-executive board member of Digital Catapult, what are you the most proud of about the organisation?

I am most proud of the manner in which a relatively small number of diverse and highly skilled experts at Digital Catapult create the foundations, forums and facilities which enable organisations of all sizes to convene and collaborate in accelerating innovation and driving sustainable growth across the digital economy.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in adopting advanced digital technologies right now?

The biggest challenges are the financial and technical barriers to entry for innovative SMEs, and the broader capabilities to scale innovation to an industrial level within the UK. This challenge presents a huge opportunity for the UK economy and Digital Catapult more specifically; Digital Catapult has a proven track record in accelerating the growth of thousands of startups with innovation programmes and open access facilities which promote experimentation, collaboration and significantly lower barriers to scaling.

If you could make one challenge to your peers in the deep tech ecosystem, what would it be?

To be bolder and more collaborative in driving open innovation which benefits the entire deep tech ecosystem; nurture creative talent, create partnerships and commit resources for the long term.

How do you envision Digital Catapult in the next 5 – 10 years?

Digital Catapult is set to continue its hugely impressive growth trajectory in becoming the acclaimed ‘go to’ authority on advanced digital technologies; increasing productivity and economic value through a wide range of innovation programmes, industry partnerships, and a national footprint of open access facilities, all managed by a highly skilled and highly engaged workforce from diverse backgrounds.

What is your top memory from your time as a Board member? 

Attending the Digital Catapult Awards and hearing directly from hundreds of entrepreneurs who speak so passionately about the profoundly positive impact of Digital Catapult on their business. 

What is your favourite or most memorable partner, programme or project?

As someone with a career in the creative industries, the programme that most resonates with me is the Virtual Production Test Stage (VPTS), now known as the Advanced Media Production Studios. Facilities like these that are accessible and open to all enable hands-on experimentation, training and skills development for the many hundreds of small UK production companies which would otherwise be unable to access this talent/technology. Projects like these cement the UK’s global reputation as a leader in the creative industries.


Keith Underwood Square

Keith Underwood

Non Executive Director