Ten years ago, a small number of people who believed in the potential, talent and ambition of Northern Ireland came together and, given a home by Catalyst Inc (at that time NI Science Park) launched Connect, which was based on the proven Connect model developed by University of California. Everyone accepted that no one individual or organization could help Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurs or transform our economy, but together with a little contribution from many people, we could do it.
Today Connect, underwritten by Catalyst Inc, is the driving force for a growing and powerful entrepreneurial ecosystem bringing together the intellectual capital in the region, industry, investors, as well as government to support and nurture the ambitions of our entrepreneurs. At Connect we run intensive development programmes, track the progress of NI’s Knowledge economy and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of our young people. All of our activities are developed and delivered through collaboration with the community and is only possible through the support of our corporate partners who provide time and resources to make sure the model is evolving rapidly to effectively support and encourage our entrepreneurs.
We are now engaging with around 820 entrepreneurs a year and over the last 10 years we have seen over £45M invested in the alumni companies from our Springboard programme, the growth of Invent to one of the most anticipated annual celebrations and recognition of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland and introduced new programmes tailored to the specific requirements of our entrepreneurs.
Thanking all the people who have contributed in many ways during Connect’s 10 year journey so far, Steve Orr co-founder and Director of Connect said “Over the past ten years we have seen incredible local innovators and entrepreneurs create products and companies that are now becoming scale-ups and scalers, lots of them. This is all due to the culture of collaboration and contribution from so many incredible people who are providing support for entrepreneurs pro-bono. Because of this great community, Northern Ireland is becoming a land of opportunity’
Find out more at connect.catalyst-inc.org and see how you can join us in achieving our vision to see Northern Ireland as one of the most entrepreneurial knowledge economies by 2030!