Business news

£100k proof of concept funding awarded to 10 of NI’s most promising start-ups

Posted By:

22nd Jun 2023

Ten of the most promising start-ups in Northern Ireland have each been awarded £10,000 proof of concept (POC) grants following their involvement in Catalyst’s early-stage entrepreneurship programme Co-Founders.

Co-Founders is an innovative programme which brings together ambitious people from diverse backgrounds who are interested in creating a start-up with high-growth potential in a safe, risk-free environment.

This year saw 18 teams graduate from the programme, with 10 teams each receiving £10,000 POC grants.

Catalyst has partnered with Techstart Ventures, a leading investor of seed capital supporting early-stage businesses, to provide the £10,000 grants to the start-ups, which must be used to help validate their business and develop their inventive ideas.

This year’s Co-Founders programme had a new focus on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to reflect Catalyst’s commitment to sustainable innovation. The 17 SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Aligning with the SDG of ‘good health and wellbeing’, one team, Forgetmenot, is focusing on a platform to ease the pressures of dementia care, primarily aiming to support and help informal carers. Another team, Plugable, is looking at access to home chargers and new public infrastructure to support EV adoption, working towards the SDGs of ‘affordable and clean energy’ and ‘sustainable cities and communities’.

Companies across a range of sectors including Greentech, Fintech, Health & Wellbeing, and Education, were among the recipients of the funding.

The recipients of the £10,000 awards are:


MDD Systems Ltd





ElectrifyMe Ltd

Now Doctor Ltd



Hannah Cummings, Co-Founders Programme Manager at Catalyst, said: “Pitch Night is the culmination of the Co-Founders programme and is all about celebrating and elevating the voices of our co-founders, past and present, providing them with the opportunity to make connections beyond the programme within the start-up ecosystem, and gain insight from those who have been there and done it before. I wish all of our founders every success as they move forward.”

Kathleen Garrett, Head of Proof of Concept Grants at Techstart Ventures, said: “We have seen some fantastic teams graduate from Co-Founders 2023, and we’re delighted to have partnered with Catalyst to provide the £100k grant funding to 10 of the teams. This funding will help fuel start-up growth in Northern Ireland as the Co-Founders teams look to take their ideas to the next level.

“We’re excited to see what the future holds for these start-up teams, who are tackling some challenging problems.”

These teams will progress to Co-Founders+, Phase 2 of the programme, where ideas are further developed, and teams are given access to mentors and industry specialists to accelerate their concepts.

Since launching in 2017, 750 people have taken part in the programme with 196 teams formed; over a third of the teams formed are continuing to work on their start-up. This year saw a record number of applicants on the programme, plus a record number attending the in-person Hot House event, where participants network and form a start-up team.

The Co-Founders programme is funded by the Department for the Economy NI.

Register your interest for Co-Founders 2024 at