Catalyst and Techstart Ventures are teaming up again to offer five inspiring entrepreneurial teams participating in Catalyst’s Co-Founders programme the chance to win a £10,000 proof of concept grant each.

Following a competitive pitch process, the winners of this grant will get a helping hand to assist them on the journey to commercialisation and bring their idea into the real world.

Looking at how this partnership successfully impacted the programme in 2023, Catalyst increased the number of females on the Co-Founders programme by 37% and non-degree participants by 79% with the geographical spread reaching across 12 counties, including both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. 

In addition to the initial proof of concept grant, two teams went on to receive an additional £35,000 proof of concept grant from Techstart to further the development of their idea in 2023. Finally, 64% of applications were interested in exploring solutions to FinTech, GreenTech and health and science problems.

Co-Founders is a one-night-a-week free programme for anyone who wants to be a co-founder in a startup team and has the desire to explore the viability of a business idea. Designed to support diversity in the startup industry, it brings together a wide range of people from a range of backgrounds, allowing participants to meet potential collaborators and create a startup in a safe, supportive environment.

Catalyst Co-Founders programme to connect entrepreneurs

Techstart Ventures is an investor of seed capital into early-stage technology businesses and also runs a proof of concept grant fund.  This grant fund of £4.5 million supports entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland to explore the viability and commercial potential of innovative concepts.

Pauline Timoney, head of entrepreneurship, Catalyst said: “Fostering entrepreneurship and growing the start-up ecosystem, especially in those harder to reach areas, is a shared goal between Catalyst and Techstart Ventures’ proof of concept grant programme and has proven to make real headway in making entrepreneurship more attainable for all.

“Techstart Ventures’ proof of concept grant offers real support to those who come through the Co-Founders programme and so we are thrilled to develop this partnership further into its second year.”

Kathleen Garret, head of proof of concept grants at Techstart Ventures said: “Last year’s partnership with Catalyst proved to be a success, and so we are delighted to continue collaborating in 2024 by supporting the Co-Founders programme again.

“This partnership brings together a supportive environment for entrepreneurs at the earliest stage of their business journey, along with financial support to help the teams accelerate their novel idea. We are really looking forward to seeing the teams form and the ideas develop.”

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

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