So what is the Catalyst Centre?

The Catalyst Centre is an initiative developed by Southampton Science Park which provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs, visionaries, and the science and technology stars of the future. Mentoring, business support, and 6 months free space are on offer - all you need is a great business idea, and the drive and determination to succeed. Pitch your idea to a panel of seasoned experts, and you could be the next Catalyst Centre success story.

The Catalyst opportunity is open to any individuals or early stage companies with a science or technology based business proposition; the selection panel will be looking for entrepreneurial flair and a degree of commercial awareness. Businesses accepted into the Catalyst process will be resident in the Innovation Centre at Southampton Science Park and will benefit from being part of the Park’s entrepreneurial community. For the latest updates check out our Blog and YouTube.

University of Southampton Science Park initiative in association with SETsquared
Peter Birkett
Peter Birkett
Chief Executive, USSP
I came to Southampton Science Park after founding a simulator manufacturing company as a venture of defence technology company, QinetiQ. At the time, I was working as part of the Ventures Team and was involved in assessing technology ideas for their commercial potential. At the Science Park, I am passionate about providing an environment where innovative high-tech businesses can flourish and academic excellence can fuse with commercial know-how to generate innovative new businesses. I am looking forward to being part of the selection process that will see exciting new talent take up residence at the Science Park.
Sandra Sassow
Layla Stacey
Managing Director, React Comms
MD and founder of React, Layla-Jane Stacey has always been a self motivated and driven person. Not one to settle for the norm, she has come a long way since her days as a self-employed marketeer, fighting her way through the trials and tribulations of what an early stage start-up can bring you. 10 years on Layla now runs a successful marcoms agency in the heart of Southampton, employing a dynamic team of creative individuals and working with a wide range of clients, from innovative start-ups to multi-million pound companies in the Tech and Marine sectors. Being an entrepreneur and a women in very male dominated markets has also brought with it some challenges, but like everything, Layla has persevered and continues to enjoy the journey!
David Bream
David Bream
Centre Director, SETsquared
My work with SETsquared involves helping early stage businesses to develop a business plan, supporting them through the process of gaining funding and helping them develop the commercial skills to drive the business forward. It's absolutely key to the development of a first-rate high tech business to have an understanding of the commercial landscape, as well as the technological excellence that drives innovative ideas. Most entrepreneurial people are either business minded, or technically focused but I'm lucky enough to come from a background where equal importance was attached to both. These skills were what got me involved with SETsquared, and are what will help me to identify suitable candidates for the Catalyst Centre programme.
Phil Sharpe
Phil Sharpe
Strategy, Ventures and Portfolio Support Director, QinetiQ
For the last 15 years I have been involved in the commercial exploitation of technology for QinetiQ, developing a portfolio of early stage businesses and ventures spanning a wide range of physical sciences. As Proposition Development Director of the business acceleration team at QinetiQ, I focused on innovation, proposition development, coaching, business mentoring, growth strategy, funding (including AIM flotation), private equity and trade sale exit. Mentoring early stage businesses and facilitating their success has been my passion for many years, and I look forward to lending my experience and expertise to this fantastic Science Park initiative.
Brian Luff
Robert Dent
CEO of 1st Touch
Robert funded a management buyout of 1st Touch back in 2007 from a bigger technology group. When he went into the business full time in 2009, he made the decision to focus solely on social housing. He already had a client in this arena and he realised it had huge potential so decided to specialise on this niche. This focus really paid-off. There are 650 potential social housing customers for them in the UK. Of the 200 potential clients that have gone mobile it has over 50% of the market and social housing authorities now

  • Residence in the Innovation Centre at the prestigious Southampton Science Park
  • Support from an expert business coach
  • Weekly business workshops conducted by experienced professionals (during the first 3 months )
  • Access to networks through association with SETsquared
  • Induction course for new entrants
  • Opportunities to meet successful entrepreneurs
  • 6 months free occupancy of the Catalyst Centre
  • Up to 2 desks and storage in shared air-conditioned office
  • Free internet connection
  • Free use of shared meeting room
  • Up to £1,000 towards agreed business expenses

  • You will need to be present at Southampton Science Park for the 6 month period. We do not support living costs.
  • If applying from overseas you will need all of the relevant documentation to work in the UK.
  • Candidate businesses must be prepared to commit to engagement with the Catalyst process for a period of 6 months.
  • Entry is through a competitive process.
  • Businesses must have a 'high tech' business proposition capable of generating significant growth.
  • Candidate businesses will be asked to complete an entry form describing their business proposition.
  • The best candidates will be invited to pitch their proposition to a selection panel comprising experienced business professionals and entrepreneurs.
  • The panel will select the top businesses with the highest potential to enter the Catalyst process.

  • At the end of the 6 month process, Catalyst businesses will be expected to present to an expert panel by way of a ‘graduation’.
  • The best businesses will be considered for entry onto the SETsquared business acceleration programme.
  • Businesses must vacate the Catalyst Centre but may remain in the Innovation Centre in other shared office accommodation (fee paying).
Applications are now open for the 2015 cohort. For more information please email

Any information provided as part of an application for entry to the Catalyst Centre will be treated as confidential and will only be used for the purpose of judging the business proposition for its eligibility for acceptance onto the Catalyst scheme.
Please describe your business proposition succinctly using the NABC framework below.
NEED What is the important customer and market need addressed by your business? Please make sure you read the Guidance Notes above before filling in your application (max 250 words)
(250 remaining)
APPROACH What is the unique approach for addressing this need?(max 500 words)

(500 remaining)
BENEFITS What are the specific benefits that result from this approach?(max 500 words)

(500 remaining)
COMPETITION How are the benefits superior to the competition's and alternatives?(max 250 words)

(250 remaining)