Airbus UK’s senior vice-president Katherine Bennett is to leave the airframer to head up government tech initiative the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC).

The Catapult is a specialist organisation developed to “bridge the gap between business and academia,” providing access to research and development opportunities and a manufacturing gateway for promising technologies. The organisation operates through a network of 17 centres, investigating new technologies and innovative productivity processes.

Bennett will succeed retiring chief executive Dick Elsy later this year. She has been with Airbus for 16 years and was appointed to head up the company’s UK operation in 2017, which employs 13,500 people manufacturing aircraft wings. As part of her role at Airbus, Bennett testified to parliamentary industrial strategy committees to detail potential impact on aerospace activity of the UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union.

“Real passion” will help post-COVID recovery

HVM Catapult chair Allan Cook 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.”

“Building the UK’s status as a scientific superpower”

Bennett added: “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.”

Watch: FINN caught up with Katherine Bennett a year after the launch of the Charter for Women in Aviation and Aerospace which she founded in July 2018.

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