Transport visionary Will Whitehorn appointed as Chairman of the Transport Systems Catapult

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Transport industry pioneer Will Whitehorn will spearhead innovation as Chairman of the new Transport Systems Catapult.

Will Whitehorn

The UK's transport industry and the many service companies that support it are a huge global success story.

The Catapult, a technology and innovation centre being set up by the Technology Strategy Board, will focus on innovation for efficient and sustainable ways to move people and goods (freight) across national transport systems including road, rail, sea and air. These products and services will help to ease congestion globally and prepare for the growing requirements for transport systems of the future.

Making the announcement, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“An efficient transport system that can move people and goods in a cost effective way is vital to the success of the UK economy. The Transport Systems Catapult will make sure that new and emerging technology systems across road, rail, sea and air can be tested and demonstrated, helping to create a world class transport network.

“Will Whitehorn is a real expert in the transport field, with years of experience and a vast amount of knowledge. He will be able to take forward the development of the Catapult and I look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have to transport systems across the UK and beyond.”

Commenting on his appointment, Will Whitehorn said:

"The UK's transport industry and the many service companies that support it are a huge global success story. While facing real issues that arise from the rapid pace of modernisation at home, the industry continues to operate infrastructure for tens of millions of customers every day. The Technology Strategy Board has shown real vision by setting up this Catapult as a centre of excellence for an industry that has the opportunity to be world-beater and able to give people in the UK an experience of travel that is world-class at the same time. I look forward to playing my part in turning that vision into a reality".

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said:

“I am delighted that Will Whitehorn has accepted the position as Chair of the Transport Systems Catapult. He brings a wealth of experience across the transport sector and his knowledge and networks will be invaluable as we establish this exciting new Catapult centre.”

Gray continued: “The Transport Systems Catapult will position the UK as the leading provider of innovative and integrated transport solutions to the rest of the world, estimated to be worth £900bn by 2025.”

Starting his new role on March 1st, Mr. Whitehorn will chair the Board of the Transport Systems Catapult, set up to help grow the UK’s transport sector. He will assist the Technology Strategy Board to recruit a Chief Executive. Ongoing responsibilities will include ensuring the Catapult team meets its strategic objectives, agreed with Technology Strategy Board, as well as ensuring good corporate governance for the organisation.

Mr. Whitehorn is most recognised for his role at Virgin to establish the companies original train franchise and more recently as President of Virgin Galactic where he pioneered the development and concept of commercial spaceflight as the company looks to provide sub-orbital spaceflights to space tourists as well as satellite deployment and space science services.

The Transport Systems Catapult is part of a network of world-leading technology and innovation centres established and overseen by the Technology Strategy Board as a long-term investment that will open up global opportunities for the UK and generate economic growth for the future. With investment from public and private sectors of around £1bn over the coming few years, Catapults represent one of the most important developments in UK innovation and technology, and will make a major impact for years to come.

The Transport Systems Catapult will be active later this year.

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David Hulmes
Technology Strategy Board
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