We Are Catalyst Logo


Celebrating 25 years of innovation, growth, and opportunity.

For a quarter-century, Catalyst and our partners have been empowering businesses and communities in Northern Ireland and the Northwest region of Ireland.

Since opening our original site, Catalyst has grown to span eight buildings over two campuses in Belfast and Derry-Londonderry and is now home to more than 140 innovative start-ups, scale-ups and large companies employing up to 3,000 people in technology-focused jobs. Our programmes, which support every stage of the entrepreneurial journey, include Generation Innovation, INVENT, Co-Founders, Springboard, Way to Scale and Inbound Investors.

After 25 years, reflect on our journey with us as we look toward a future filled with possibility and prosperity.

Our Vision

Opportunity for all from World-Leading Innovation

We want to help create a society whose economy makes a difference to the world, contributing to solving global challenges, achieving this because of the breadth of participation and creativity of all people from all backgrounds. This is what ‘inclusive innovation’, means to us.

Over the past 25 years of supporting innovation and entrepreneurship Catalyst has worked hard to create a community and ecosystem which has enabled people from NI to make a massive impact on the global stage in tech, science and industry. Catalyst has gone from being a portacabin in a derelict corner of Belfast’s shipyards to one of the FT’s top 10 start-up hubs in the UK and Ireland.

“But how we do things in the next 25 years has to look different. Catalyst’s vision is that NI will lead the way in proving that inclusive entrepreneurship and equality of opportunity can benefit a whole region. Empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators isn’t something we can do alone. So we’re calling for our successful individuals at home and around the world, our market-leading companies and key stakeholders in government, universities and education to work with us to shape what comes next. If you want this place to be truly great, don’t watch from the sidelines, bring what you have to offer to the table.

Steve Orr, CEO, Catalyst

Together Transforming Tomorrow

Catalyst CEO, Steve Orr talks about a collaborative Vision for NI

The Catalyst Annual Briefing 2024

Watch the full session at the Catalyst Annual Briefing 2024

Our Mission

We make it easy for you to innovate.

Innovation is very hard, and few companies possess the resources to meet all of their innovation needs internally. Innovation is often made harder by the fragmentation that exists between parties with a role to assist and stimulate innovation; and the bureaucracy and the risk aversion applied to those interventions.

This is not just in Northern Ireland; this is the case in nearly every city in the world. Whether the innovator is a multi-national corporation (MNC), a start-up or scale-up, or a young person farthest from opportunity, Catalyst’s role is to help make the process of innovating or collaborating to innovate easier.

25 years of Catalyst

A Timeline of Milestones

Discover the key moments that have defined our journey over the past 25 years.


In March 1999, Chancellor Gordon Brown earmarked £13m for the establishment the Northern Ireland Science Park (now Catalyst), offering a commercial and research driven centre for knowledge-based industries.


Dr Norman Apsley joins Catalyst as its first Chief Executive.


Catalyst agreed to buy Belfast Site in late 2001.


The Innovation Centre opens its doors to its first members - creating 40000 sq ft of fully customisable space for innovative companies.


The Legacy Building is modernised, and added 24,000 sq ft of space to Catalyst Belfast.


The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) Building opens at Catalyst in partnership with Queen's University Belfast.


White star house completed adding 37,000 sq ft to Catalyst space - CITI moves in as anchor member.


Catalyst inherits entrepreneurship programmes from Investment Belfast - This marks the first year Catalyst becomes profitable.


Concourse Building 1 opens at Catalyst Belfast adding another 50,000 sq ft of innovation space.


Catalyst launches co-working spaces providing hot-desks for solopreneurs.


Catalyst launches "NI's Next Big Thing' 25K awards - sponsored by Bank of Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland, QUB & University of Ulster Business School.


Concourse Building 2 Opens adding 50,000 sq ft to its Belfast Campus.


Catalyst wins funding for Cross Border Project with Letterkenny Institute of Technology - The North West Regional Science Park, CoLab, LYIT. Construction commences at Fort George site.


Catalyst Innovation Centre - Fort George opens the North West Regional Science Park, CoLab, LYIT - creating 32,000 sq ft of innovation space.


Generation Innovation ‘Night of Ambition’ for 150 of Northern Ireland’s most ambitious young people.


Catalyst releases the 2014 Knowledge Economy Report and wins OXBA award for most innovative project.


Catalyst awarded the Sail of Papenburg Award for cross-border efforts.


Concourse 3 completed, adding another 50,000 sq ft and Northern Ireland Science Park rebrands to ‘Catalyst’.


Catalyst appoints Steve Orr as its CEO.


MIT Entrepreneurs Bill Aulet delivers the first Entrepreneurship Development Programme in Belfast.


Catalyst launches ‘Way to Scale’ programme to support 10 early stage tech companies wanting to scale their business operations.


Catalyst awarded a Bronze Diversity Mark with Diversity NI. Co-founders launch regional programme to support entrepreneurs in the North West.


Dick Milliken steps down. Ellvena Graham becomes first female chair of Catalyst. Inbound Investors brings 80 non native investors to NI.


Catalyst launches new 5-year strategy with focus on inclusive innovation.


Open innovation - Catalyst commits to a series of new targets to support innovation driven enterprises, and is awarded a Silver Diversity Mark.


Catalyst CEO Steve Orr speaks at the Presidential Address. Catalyst named a Great Place to Work®.


Catalyst welcomes Rio Ferdinand to meet young people from inclusive innovation programme ‘STRYVE’.


Catalyst announces 2040 Net Zero plan with £400k investment in green technology


Catalyst recognised as one of Europe’s leading start-up hubs in Financial Times Special Report.


Catalyst named as a UK Best Place to work (TOP 105 *59 mid sized company).

Hear from our community and learn about their journeys

How we can support you

Future Workspace

State-of-the-art, flexible workspaces for businesses of all sizes designed to foster collaboration and creativity, coming with all the amenities you need to live and work. Coupled with the Catalyst Community of entrepreneurs, mentors, and members this combines to create a competitive advantage from where you work.

Find out more

Entrepreneurial support programmes

Entrepreneurial support programmes, including mentorship, networking opportunities, and access to funding opportunities. These programs are designed to help entrepreneurs create and scale new innovative businesses.

Find our more

Open Innovation

Enabling companies that want to become innovation-driven enterprises, academia, and government to accelerate technology-based research and development. This helps to ensure that Northern Ireland remains at the forefront of innovation.

Find out more

Get involved

Have a story to share?
Want to get involved with our plans?
Need support in your journey?

Sign up to our newsletter

Stay up to date with news, events and more.

      Catalyst - © 2024