We are delighted to announce that our CEO, Dr. Norman Apsley OBE was last night presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards 2018.
Norman was born in Larne, educated at Larne Grammar School and then, at the New University of Ulster, achieving a First Class Honours Degree in Physics. In 1972 Norman went to Cambridge University to study amorphous semiconductors at the Cavendish Laboratories. Norman became a Fellow of Jesus College and an SERC Research Fellow.
In 1979, Norman joined RSRE (now Qinetiq), one of Europe’s foremost applied physics laboratories. For ten years, he researched a wide variety of microwave and optical devices, publishing some 70 scientific papers and patents. The laboratory achieved 13 Queens Awards for Technology between 1980 and 1992. He became Director Electronics and Site Director in 1995, leaving in 2000 for his current appointment.
In 2000, Norman returned to NI and starting in a portacabin, has led the establishment of the Northern Ireland Science Park (now named Catalyst Inc), from concept to physical embodiment and has driven its growth and success for the last eighteen years.
His career spans academia, government bodies and corporations, and his wide contribution to science and economic development earned him an OBE in 2012.
Under Norman’s leadership, Catalyst Inc has grown to 33 staff, had year on year growth in turnover, increased the financial and pro-bono support from the private sector and had the Catalyst Inc commissioned Knowledge Economy Report accepted as the de-facto measurement of the NI Knowledge Economy.
Today Catalyst Inc is regarded as a next generation science park with 400,000 sq. ft of agile workspace across 3 campuses, Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Ballymena which are home to over 200 companies who are employing 3,000 researchers, business professionals.
He has devoted his career to enterprise promotion and has been an inspirational leader, a man at the heart of stimulating, supporting and promoting innovation in Northern Ireland. He is an advocate of the talent and ambition of innovators and inventors in Northern Ireland and his focus has been unashamedly on the development and growth of what we term the Knowledge Economy; that is an economy built upon innovation, entrepreneurship and the intellectual capital within NI.
He is driven by his belief that Northern Ireland can have an economy that delivers for the whole of society and despite many obstacles has stayed true to his vision.
His knowledge of Northern Ireland’s inventors and innovators over the last four hundred years is unsurpassed and he is passionate about recognising their successes to create role models for our young people to aspire to. You only have to read his regular column in the News Letter (which he has written for years) to see his ability to communicate in a way that resonates with everybody.
He is a leading business figure both in NI, UK and further afield and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. As Chair of the Education Expert Group, appointed by the Minister of Education, he has collaboratively developed a longer term vision of qualifications in NI, bringing diverse stakeholders together.
His mission and that of Catalyst Inc, is to make its ambitious vision ‘for Northern Ireland to be one of the most entrepreneurial and inclusive knowledge economies across Europe by 2030’ a reality.
There would be very few business people who do not speak of him with affection and hold him in high regard.