Katherine Bennett leaves Airbus to head up UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult

Katherine Bennett Airbus

Katherine Bennett CBE, currently Senior Vice President, at Bristol-based Airbus is set to take over from Dick Elsy when he retires as CEO of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVM Catapult) Catapult later this year.

Chair of the HVM Catapult, Allan Cook CBE, said: “I am delighted to share the news of Katherine’s appointment. She will bring a wealth of industrial experience combined with real passion for the vital role the HVM Catapult has to play in assisting the UK’s post-COVID recovery and supporting the innovation that will boost the UK’s position in global markets. Katherine is indeed a worthy successor to Dick Elsy and will undoubtedly build on his outstanding legacy for the HVM Catapult.”

Welcoming the news, Dick Elsy said: “The announcement of Katherine’s appointment is very good news not just for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, but for the whole of UK engineering and manufacturing.  Her experience in a senior leadership role with Airbus in the UK means she brings a depth of understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by UK manufacturers as they innovate to grow their market share and address shared challenges such as reducing carbon emissions. I will be pleased to leave the organisation in her extremely capable hands.”

Through it’s seven physical centres across the UK, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult helps accelerate new concepts through to commercial reality. Its seven sites across the UK, includes the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, The National Composites Centre at Emerson’s Green near Bristol and WMG, Warwick Manufacturing Group based at the University of Warwick.

Katherine Bennett said: “I am honoured to have been asked to lead the next phase of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s development, building on the strong foundations which have been created over the past eight years.  The HVM Catapult has the wide-ranging relationships and understanding needed to be part of the Industrial Strategy refresh process and to contribute to building the UK’s status as a scientific superpower. The Catapult’s country-wide network of centres provides the ideal platform from which to diffuse the latest capabilities to the thousands of manufacturing businesses that are the bedrock of our economy, boosting their performance, preparing them to be part of the Prime Minister’s Green Industrial Revolution and growing their contribution to our national prosperity.”

High Value Manufacturing CatapultHaving postponed his retirement last year to lead the successful Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium, to provide ventilators for the NHS to help treat Covid-19, Dick Elsy CBE, was the HVM Catapult’s first CEO, Dick has steered the organisation to become the largest advanced manufacturing research institution in Europe. Backed by broad industrial talent from across the HVM Catapult’s seven centres of innovation, he has presided over an extraordinary success story which has delivered more than £2 billion of new manufacturing R&D activity in the UK and continues to be a magnet for high value investment into the UK by global companies creating jobs and growth.

Born in Warwickshire, Katherine is a Senior Vice President of Airbus and has been with the company for 16 years. She leads the company’s external engagement and strategy in the UK.

Katherine’s previous employment was with Vauxhall Motors where she headed up their government affairs function and prior to that worked for Hill and Knowlton Public Relations in London, working with a range of industrial clients.

Katherine was awarded the Order of Commander of the British Empire in January 2019 for services to the aerospace and aviation sector. She is Vice President, Aerospace on the Council of ADS (the UK aerospace trade association), on the Board of the Aerospace Growth Partnership (part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy) and of the Wales Government Science and Innovation Council.

In November 2019 Katherine was appointed as Chair of the Western Gateway, a cross government and local authority initiative which will aim to promote and maximise economic growth across south Wales and the West of England. Katherine managed the public affairs for VentilatorChallengeUK which was led by the HVM Catapult.

In July 2018, Katherine founded the UK’s Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter which is committed to building a fair and balanced industry for women in this sector and is on the Board of the International Aviation Womens Association.  Katherine has an Honorary Doctorate from Cranfield University.