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Catalyst and Techstart team up to offer start-up co-founders the chance to win £10k proof of concept grants

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28th Nov 2022

A collaborative new partnership between Catalyst and Techstart Ventures is offering 10 entrepreneurial teams who take part in Catalyst’s Co-Founders programme the chance to each win a £10,000 proof of concept grant. Receiving a proof of concept grant will help new start-ups validate their business offering and set them on the path to commercialisation.

Co-Founders is a unique entrepreneurship programme which helps ambitious individuals in Northern Ireland to develop a new product innovation focused on science, technology or engineering. Teams are helped to validate their ideas, test them in the real world and develop their businesses.

Techstart is a leading investor of seed capital supporting early-stage businesses and also runs a proof of concept grant fund; a £4.5 million pre-commercial grant awarding fund that supports entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland with grants to explore the viability and commercial potential of an innovative concept.

The new partnership is designed to support entrepreneurs who are validating their business concept through Co-Founders. Proof of concept grants will help fund these early teams and test key aspects of their business idea.

Following a competitive pitch process, 10 teams are expected to be awarded a £10,000 proof of concept grant from Techstart.

Fiona Bennington, Head of Entrepreneurship and Growth at Catalyst said: “Catalyst and Techstart share a common vision to encourage entrepreneurship and grow the start-up ecosystem, so we’re very excited to be working in unison to support local entrepreneurs who are at the beginning of their journey.

“This combined approach, with Catalyst’s team working alongside an experienced investor who has already backed many of the innovative new businesses that were formed through Co-Founders in previous years, creates even greater potential to have a positive impact and nurture more sustainable start-ups in Northern Ireland.”

Kathleen Garrett, Head of Proof of Concept Grants ­at Techstart Ventures, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with Catalyst on their Co-Founders programme. The partnership brings together strong teams, exciting ideas, and grant funding in a supportive environment. This will provide an improved experience for entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland who are at the earliest stage of their journey and help them accelerate. We are excited to see what will emerge from this partnership”

Co-Founders provides the opportunity for anyone with an entrepreneurial spark to come together and co-found a start-up in a supportive environment. Since launching in 2017, the programme has delivered eight cohorts involving 611 people who have formed 134 teams. Over a third of the teams formed are continuing to work on their start-up and have raised £3 million in funding.

Register for Co-Founders 2023 at

Picture caption: Kathleen Garrett, Head of Proof of Concept Grants at Techstart Ventures and Fiona Bennington, Head of Entrepreneurship and Growth at Catalyst, pictured at Catalyst Titanic Quarter.