We Are Catalyst Logo

Generation Innovation

Aims to inform, upskill and empower the young people of this generation to thrive as the next leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of the future

Generation Innovation

Our suite of programmes



Impact Day

Impact Day

Work Experience

Work Experience

What is the Generation Innovation Work Experience Programme?

Generation Innovation is a future-focused Work Experience Programme designed to empower, enable, and upskill young people for the workplace of tomorrow. With its foundations grounded in the principles of Design Thinking, Generation Innovation is a one-of-a-kind programme that gives young people a real-world working experience with some of the most innovative companies making a dent in the universe.

This Work Experience Programme is for all 17-18-year-olds interested in accelerating their career development, gaining awareness of the skills needed for tomorrow’s world, and building an innovation mindset through Design Thinking training.

During the programme, students will be paired with innovative employers, such as Coca-Cola, FinTru or EY, and will learn how to work as part of a new team. Their skills will be put to the test to solve a real-life company challenge, developing a solution before pitching it to the partner company and fellow peers.

Thank you to the Department for the Economy for supporting Generation Innovation.

Dates and Locations

The 2024 programme will involve 700 students this June for 3 in-person events.

Option 1:
11th – 14th June | Derry-Londonderry, The Millennium Forum

Option 2:
17th – 21st June | Belfast, Catalyst, Queen’s Road

Option 3:
24th – 27th June | Dungannon, The Junction

Applications for the 2024 Work Experience Programme are now closed.

The Generation Innovation 2024 Work Experience Programme

  • Who is it for?

    Anyone aged 17-18 years old.

  • How much will it cost?

    Nothing – it’s free to attend!

Why apply for the Generation Innovation Work Experience programme?

Benefits of attending

What's Included

  • Hosted in-person

  • Work with some of Northern Ireland's most exciting and innovative companies

  • Receive free limited edition apparel merchandise and win extra prizes

  • Free to attend

  • Access to the Generation Innovation Alumni network

  • Have fun and meet other young people

  • Accelerate your development by learning about exciting future career prospects  

  • Receive training from expert facilitators

  • Learn in a fun, energetic, and highly engaging way that'll inspire and empower you for the future

Skills you'll gain

What's Included

  • Communication Skills

  • Teambuilding

  • Build Emotional Resilience

  • Learn Problem-Solving Skills

  • Creativity

  • Presentation and Pitching Skills

  • User-centred Design

  • Design-led Thinking Skills

The Work Experience Programme within Generation Innovation showed me how to accept others' ideas and appreciate their skillsets. I got to experience what it was like to solve a real challenge, present to a real company and work in a professional environment, something many work experience programmes do not offer. I have met so many new people and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in!

Rose Templeton, Generation Innovation Alumni Student

Generation Innovation | Workshop

Our workshops are open to all 16-18-year-old groups (5th-U6th years), completely free of charge.

All we ask from you is that your classroom or assembly hall is set up with tables and chairs and that we have access to a projector – it’s that easy!

Please note that workshops are limited and so we advise you to book ahead of time. Workshops will only be delivered to a minimum of 20 students.

This year, we have expanded our offering to give you the option between three workshops.

Students will also have early access to register for the Generation Innovation Work Experience Programme at each workshop!

Our 3 Workshop offerings

Skills to pay the bills

This workshop will help your students stretch their imagination and begin a journey exploring:

What's Included

  • The Innovation Mindset.

  • Upskilling for the future job market, giving the inside track into what employers look for.

  • Careers in tech, innovation & entrepreneurship.

  • Presentation & interview techniques.

Diving into design

This workshop will help students learn about the benefits of adopting a Design–Thinking mindset and will cover areas such as:

What's Included

  • What is design?

  • Applying the Design–Thinking approach to real-life business challenges.

  • Diving deeper with a mini-design sprint.

  • Pitching your ideas back.

Exploring Entrepreneurship

This workshop will demystify entrepreneurship for students and help them understand how they can turn their ideas into reality by:

What's Included

  • Defining entrepreneurship

  • Outlining the steps in creating an actionable plan, and setting up and running a business.

  • Expanding your students’ marketing and branding knowledge through interactive exercises.

  • Showcasing inspirational entrepreneurs.

Book your free Workshop

Bookings are now open for the 2023/24 academic year. Book your FREE Generation Innovation Workshop via the link below.

Generation Innovation | Impact Day

Fuel ambition, spark ideas and empower your students through design thinking.

What is an Impact Day?

A one-day, fully immersive design thinking experience for groups of 90+ students aged 16-18-years-old (5th-U6th years) held onsite at your venue. No need to mobilise, we’ll come to you and take your students on a design thinking journey that will lead them from identifying a problem, working through several stages to iterate and design a prototype/solution all in the one day.

On this journey, your students will learn important skills at each stage, including user-centred design, working in a team and critical thinking. The impact day will also help foster soft skills such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and resilience.

What happens on the day?

Our team of design thinking trainers will come to your venue and will deliver a design sprint, working through several stages of the design thinking methodology. During the design sprint, there will be creative icebreakers and fun games to stimulate ideas and keep the energy alive.


Understanding the user base and ‘consumer’, how they interact with the world/system or product, and understanding their needs and behaviours.


Together each team will work together to define a problem and then design solution for it. This could even be applied to improving something within your everyday life, asking the question ‘How might we…?


Our team will work with your students in different groups and walk them through an ideation phase where they can start to design and develop a solution for the defined problem. Here, students will contribute ideas, challenge assumptions, and work together as a team to develop a solution.


At the end of the day each team will present their solution to the group in a very welcoming and engaging environment.

We will finish the day with a visit from a number of our partner companies who will demonstrate some innovative technology and share their own start-up journey. Students will become part of the Generation Innovation community and will be given branded merchandise to remember the experience alongside resources to continue their journey.

What is the criteria for an Impact Day?

  • Students must be 16-to-18-year-olds (5th to U6th years)
  • Minimum of 90 students
  • Impact Days are delivered between 9am and 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Students must be available during this time & day
  • Access to technology including projector, screen, and speakers
  • A minimum of one additional breakout room
  • Tables of no more than 8 students
  • Technician onsite
  • Access to the space from 7:30am to set up
  • Images of the hosting space and breakout room(s) sent to the Generation Innovation team at least one week in advance
  • Wi-Fi available

What will it cost?

Absolutely nothing, this is a fully funded programme with no cost to you; all we need is a dedicated space and time to deliver the Impact Day.

Our 2022/23 Impact Day Partners

Register your interest for an Impact Day

Bookings are now open for the 2023/24 academic year. Please register your interest in a FREE Generation Innovation Impact Day via the link below.

2023 Work Experience Headline Partners

2023 Work Experience Partners

Company Partner Register

Could your company empower the next generation of innovators? Do you want to spot and shape NI’s talent for the future workplace?

If you would like to find out how to get involved with any elements of Generation Innovation, simply register your interest below and a member of the team will be in touch.

Steering Team

Andrew Fulton CEO Dawson Andrews | Chairperson
Shirleen McCann Bank of Ireland
Carol Fitzsimmons Young Enterprise
Stephen Dallas Bytes
Brian Shevlin Allstate
Andrew Sterling Deloitte
Francesca Morelli Queen's University Belfast
Lucy Marshall Workplus
Joanne McCourt NRC
Tim Kernohan Solid Solutions
Sarah McKeag PwC
Judith Camblin Catalyst
‎‎Emma Donnelly Ulster University

Meet the Generation Innovation Team

Judith Camblin

Judith Camblin

Programme Manager - Youth and Ambition

Judith is the programme manager for Youth and Ambition within Catalyst. She designs and de... read more
Judith Camblin

Judith Camblin

Programme Manager - Youth and Ambition

Judith is the programme manager for Youth and Ambition within Catalyst. She designs and delivers the Generation Innovation programme and our Inclusive Innovation Programme. Through these programmes Judith gets to inspire, equip and encourage young people across NI to gain the skills they need that will set them up for a successful future.

Judith has worked with young people in a variety of settings over the past 12 years and her passion is seeing young people thrive, grow in confidence and supporting them to make their best next step in life!

Carolyn Halferty

Carolyn Halferty

Project Administrator – Generation Innovation

Carolyn Halferty joined Catalyst as the project administrator in October 2021. She is spec... read more
Carolyn Halferty

Carolyn Halferty

Project Administrator – Generation Innovation

Carolyn Halferty joined Catalyst as the project administrator in October 2021. She is specifically responsible for maintaining and growing the Generation Innovation partnership porfolio. Carolyn’s role also involves planning and delivering events and programmes.

Carolyn worked as a senior business executive with BMW for 15 years and now loves using her love of connecting with people to connect the next generation with world leading local innovative companies.

Carolyn is passionate about helping each and every young person gain the self belief that they can pursue any goal and also help them discover what those goals may be.

Declan Loy

Declan Loy

Project Coordinator – Generation Innovation

Declan is a Project Coordinator for Generation Innovation, where he assists in organising ... read more
Declan Loy

Declan Loy

Project Coordinator – Generation Innovation

Declan is a Project Coordinator for Generation Innovation, where he assists in organising the work experience programme as well as delivering workshops and impact days to young people.

He achieved an Arkwright Engineering scholarship in school before attending Trinity College Dublin, where he obtained a degree in Engineering with Management.

After finishing a Technology Consulting internship with Deloitte, Declan moved on to work for Spark Crowdfunding as their Special Projects and Digital Marketing Manager, which gave him exposure to the Irish startup ecosystem, funding routes and supports available.

Ally Armstrong

Ally Armstrong

Programme Manager – Youth and Ambition

Contact the team

If you have any queries, don't hesitate to get in touch

Sign up to our newsletter

Stay up to date with news, events and more.

      Catalyst - © 2024