Catalyst has launched its co-founders programme, inviting people with passion, drive and ambition to come together to create startups that could change the world.

Running for 12 weeks on Monday evenings in 2024, the programme is open to anyone, with no experience or qualifications needed, and is designed for people who want to have a go at building a startup. You can apply here.

Catalyst is an independent, non-profit science and technology hub focused on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland.

Co-Founders brings people together to establish a founder team, validate their idea, test it in the real world, develop their business know-how, and ultimately understand if they have a viable startup idea.

The programme introduces skilled individuals from diverse backgrounds to form teams with new co-founders, helping participants create a startup in a safe, risk-free environment. Through learning workshops, mentors, events and networking, the programme helps participants develop their skillsets, grow their network, and prepares them to access the best funding opportunities.

Participants who are seeking startup inspiration are also invited to explore solutions to global, societal or community focused problems. Linked with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Co-Founders focuses on the three cluster areas of Greentech, Health and Life Sciences, and Fintech, and potential startups could help tackle global challenges in these areas.

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“Startup failure rates are high, as is the risk associated with starting up and the how to isn’t always obvious, which can limit people from having a go and quenching their creative and entrepreneurial thirst. Co-Founders aims to provide the space and knowledge to negate the risks,” said Hannah Cummings, Co-Founders programme manager.

“Co-Founders is all about supporting those interested in creating innovative startups to find their co-founders and give it a go. It’s an entry level pathway into entrepreneurship where participants just need the ambition and passion to find innovative solutions to problems that need solved. We have everyone from trainees to recent graduates, new mums and senior leaders on the programme.”

Since launching in 2017, Co-Founders has welcomed 754 people onto the programme with 192 startup teams formed and a third of teams continuing to develop their startup.

The Co-Founders programme has seen many success stories over the years, including electric vehicle charging network startup, GoPlugable, which was the overall winner of Catalyst’s 2023 INVENT Awards. The Greentech company was initially formed through the Co-Founders programme and was the winner of a £10,000 proof of concept grant last year, which helped the startup on its journey to commercialisation.

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