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Co-Founders is a one-of-a-kind entrepreneurship programme for anyone interested in early-stage startups.

Form a team

Form a team

Validate your idea

Validate your idea

Build a solution

Build a solution



Here you will meet the cohort and we’ll kickstart team formation:

  • Friday 19 February 6pm-8pm
  • Saturday 20 February 9am-1pm

Teams can apply together but must complete the Hothouse weekend to meet the cohort and to add further expertise to your team if needed. Teams are a maximum of 4 people.


This will introduce you to the tools and techniques that we use throughout the programme for developing and idea through to prototype.

  • Saturday 6 March 9am-1pm


A series of workshops and mini-lectures to develop your entrepreneurial mindset and help you build your startup. The programme will lead you through:

  • Understanding Users/Customers (Empathy)
  • Developing a clear actionable problem statement (Define)  
  • Moving from problems to solutions  (Ideation) 
  • Developing inexpensive & low-resolution prototypes (Prototype) 
  • Testing your idea through feedback & refining (Test) 
  • Understanding what makes your product/solution unique (MVP) 
  • Sharing your startup (Demo evening) 

Monday evenings 6-8.30pm
8 March – 7 June 2021

5 x £10K Awards will be awarded to top teams at Demo Evening at the end of the programme.

You will also: 

  • Have open time to work on your startup as a team.
  • Gain insight from CEOs of local innovation companies during fireside chats.
  • Have access to bookable coaching sessions to help accelerate your startup journey (additional to the Monday evenings).


Online Delivery Via:

– Zoom
– Slack
– Miro

Application Deadline

Applications for Spring 2021 are open.

Application Deadline: 8th February 2021


FREE (however significant time commitment is expected)

A Co-Founder is a person who, in conjunction with one or two others, is instrumental in starting a business.

Co-Founders is a unique entrepreneurship programme that helps you form a team with like-minded individuals, build creative confidence and develop a product that customers really want. It comprises two areas of focus: how to be a co-founder and how to develop a product mindset. Co-Founders is open to ambitious and talented individuals or established teams interested in developing new product/service innovation focused on science, technology and engineering. The programme has attracted diverse participants such as: software engineers, data scientists, sales and marketing experts, medical professionals, mechanical engineers, researchers, undergraduates and PhDs as well as professionals with many years’ experience.


Co-Founders by Catalyst is open to individuals who are curious and want to gain an understanding of product development and the world of start-ups.

You could be someone with an idea for an exciting new product and need a team to make it happen. Or you might have experienced success in your career to date but want to help someone else get their idea off the ground.

If you’re an established team, you can still apply but need to go through the Hothouse process to meet the rest of the cohort and potentially add further expertise to your team.


  • brilliant opportunity to meet talented and skilled individuals outside of your normal network
  • helps build resilience by encouraging participants to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”
  • learn the difference between a product mindset and growth mindset and how to leverage both
  • gain a better understanding of the startup ecosystem in Northern Ireland

Explore some of the other ways catalyst supports entrepreneurs

Co-Founders FAQs

Do I need to have an idea for a product?

No – to form well-balanced teams we need people with “can do” attitudes and skills focused on the technology, engineering and science sectors. Previous candidates have included experienced professionals through to undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers – what’s important is getting the right balance on the team. We’ve had people from the following sectors on previous cohorts of the programme: Product Managers/Designers, Data Scientists, Medical Professionals, Software Developers / CTOs, Engineers, Architects, Wealth Managers, Lawyers, Project Managers, Entrepreneurs, Product Developers, UX Designers, Marketing / Digital Specialists, Sales/Business Development Professionals

How do you form the teams?

On the first night of the Hothouse weekend, everyone will do a personal pitch by way of introduction to the group. For the remainder of the weekend, we will facilitate a series of energetic challenges aimed at getting to know each other and building relationships. A team of experts will also be analysing the group and providing suggestions for team formation. We encourage everyone to network over the first few weeks of the programme to help make an informed decision about who they want to work within a team. Everyone has to be in a team for entry into the Core Programme.

Can teams apply?

Yes, you can apply if you’re already part of a team but you have to apply as individuals and everyone has to take part in the Hothouse weekend. For readily formed teams, the programme can help identify if they need to bring an additional person onto their team. We know from experience that early-stage startups usually have 2 to 4 people so 4 is the maximum number for a team on the programme.

What happens if I don’t find anyone I want to work with during team formation?

This is perfectly normal and if you don’t meet someone in the first 4 weeks, you will have developed your network with a bunch of like-minded and skilled individuals and will have learnt new skills. You are welcome to come back to a future cohort and try again with a fresh batch of candidates.

Do you expect everyone to have created a product/startup at the end of the programme?

No, the Co-Founders programme is the first step on your entrepreneurial journey, introducing you to the support and help available and more importantly helping you to validate your idea.

Do you provide funding?

No, we are not a funding body but will provide advice on funding available in Northern Ireland to help you build a minimal viable product and hopefully a successful startup.

What about IP?

All candidates have to sign NDAs at the start of the programme however it is up to each candidate and/or team to manage their own IP.