Catalyst Inc were delighted to welcome Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle to Catalyst Inc’s Belfast campus as part of their visit to Northern Ireland on Friday. They were there to meet with some of the brightest and most innovative entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland.
At this showcase event, the couple had an opportunity to meet with talented entrepreneurs at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey, from forming original ideas, through to development of products and onto building successful, growing companies.
The entrepreneurs shared their stories, demonstrated their products and talked about how the innovation ecosystem in Northern Ireland is supporting them on their journey.
Chair of Catalyst Inc Mr Dick Milliken said:
“This was an amazing opportunity for Catalyst Inc to shine a light on the great innovation that is taking place in Northern Ireland. We are privileged to be able to provide this platform to showcase Northern Ireland’s talent and Catalyst Inc’s community-led innovation ecosystem that supports over 600 entrepreneurs and innovators each year to create and scale innovation companies.
Everything we do is based on the simple belief that innovation has the power to transform NI into one of Europe’s most entrepreneurial and inclusive knowledge economies by 2030.
The visit from Prince Harry and Ms. Markle will help our entrepreneurs to reach a wider audience and inspire others with their stories of how they have succeeded and the support they have received from the network of experienced entrepreneurs, business professionals, top research talent and potential investors who provide their time and experience pro bono to support this next generation of entrepreneurs.”
Fifteen entrepreneurs were involved in the showcase event, demonstrating a diverse range of products from a digital first aid kit, high performance surfboards and cyber technology, through to prosthetics, innovative baby products, a non-verbal emergency service app, a unique sight loss simulator and an innovative approach to cemetery management.
Prince Harry and Ms. Markle spent time talking to the entrepreneurs including Queen’s University student David Hatton, former winner of Young Founders from Catalyst Inc, who is developing a social enterprise web-based application to improve the lives of people living with dementia and their loved ones. Speaking at the event, David said, “I have been working on the application concept, inspired by my experiences with my late grandmother, for a year and a half. Beginning in 2016 with Young Founders, I have taken my application through student Invent, Belfast Enterprise Academy and Queen's Student Dragon's Den. It has been a once in a lifetime experience to be part of a showcase event like today”.
Also showcasing their innovation at the event was Becca Hume, Invent 2017 Category Winner who is currently building an app that will allow people to request the help of the emergency services in a non-verbal way. This will allow those who are deaf, hard of hearing, have speech problems or are in difficult situations to interact with greater ease. Becca commented during the event that “this has been such a unique opportunity to showcase Tap SOS and I am honoured to have been part of the day”
About the Entrepreneurs
Overwatch Research – Digital solutions made by and for medical researchers. They specialise in products aimed at cancer and in vivo research. Overwatch Research completed Catalyst Inc’s Co-Founders programme in 2017.
Hurtlockers Medical – The modern take on the First Aid Kit, talking and guiding you through every crisis. Co-Founders James Carson (Student at QUB) and Daniel Laverty (student at Ulster University) won Catalyst Inc’s Student Invent competition in 2017 and are currently on the Co-Founders Programme.
Skunkworks Surf Co. – Creating robust, high-performance soft surfboards and stand up paddleboards in-house while minimising the impact on the environment. Skunkworks won the Engineering category of Invent 2015 and went on the NI Tech Mission to California in 2016. They are also Springboard graduates.
B-Secur – B-Secur use each individual’s unique heart pattern to quickly and securely verify identity, one of the most secure and robust internal biometrics currently available. They are a tenant at Catalyst Inc’s Innovation Centre in Belfast.
Sentireal – Sentireal® creates software applications to improve medical and healthcare training and guidance. Sentireal's software turns smartphones, tablets and augmented reality/virtual reality headsets into automated and personalized tutors. They are a tenant at Catalyst Inc’s Innovation Centre in Belfast. Sentireal are currently working with local charity Angel Eyes NI to develop a sight loss simulator. Sight loss is complex, partial sight is hard to explain and to understand the challenges it creates. Funding, from Halifax Pitching for Pounds, has been secured to develop a downloadable app for smart phones and tablets to understand how eye conditions affect vision in everyday living and learning. The aim is that this will enable Angel Eyes NI to develop as a social enterprise.
Titanic FX – Titanic FX Store is Ireland's very own SFX and Prosthetic Makeup outlet providing the very best of SFX materials and tools locally throughout Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and beyond. Owned by Titanic Creative Management in Belfast, the Titanic FX Store was created to provide local artists with the essential materials they need without the large import and shipping costs. Founder Nuala Campbell who has developed a unique prosthetics product which is exported globally has completed Catalyst Inc’s Springboard programme.
TapSoS – Contacting the Emergency Services is often overwhelming. TapSOS is designed to eliminate this. With TapSOS, you will be able to request the help you need, giving responders a more accurate understanding of how they can assist. TapSOS are committed to delivering a more inclusive solution, allowing everyone to contact emergency services, without barriers. Founder Becca Hume who has developed a non-verbal way to connect with the emergency services. EiR Stephen McVittie
Hindsight – A web-based platform available to the primary carers and family of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Founder and CEO David Hatton (QUB Student studying for a BSc in Geography) won a summer internship with Connect Young Founders in 2016 and spent the summer working at Catalyst Inc developing his web platform. Working with five other interns and alongside a mentor, Iain James, he was awarded the top prize which included £5,000 investment to continue developing his product.
Plotbox – Plotbox have created a software product for Cemetery Management and are bringing technology to an industry which has struggled to keep up with transforming innovations. Plotbox are a tenant at the Catalyst Inc Innovation Centre in Ballymena. They were the overall winner at Invent 2015 and are also a Springboard graduate.
Shnuggle – Adam and Sinead Murphy started Shnuggle in 2009 to design clever and innovative baby products to make life easier for parents and safer for babies. Shnuggle completed Catalyst Inc’s Springboard programme in 2017.