Turning Ideas Into Businesses
In the autumn of 2021, an eclectic group of ambitious entrepreneurs embarked on a unique business support programme, Southampton Science Park’s prestigious business accelerator, Catalyst.
Diverse though their businesses were, their aims were consistent: how to launch and lead their businesses to achieve their full potential in the highly competitive innovation space. After six months of intensive mentoring, workshops and sheer hard work, they have completed their Catalyst tenure and are now equipped to take on the challenge of turning their plans and ideas into flourishing companies.
The Catalyst process encouraged all participants to rigorously challenge their plans. OhmSpace’s Federico Romei reflected: “Catalyst changed our mindset on moving the business further away from the academic/technology focus to a more entrepreneurial approach. The mentorship and feedback provided us with a financial and business plan that has become the baseline for future work having received a very good response from potential investors. I am now confident that OhmSpace will get investment and grants to develop both our product and business.”
The challenge sparked new thinking too, for Kevin Clarke of KCC Packaging. “Catalyst has been instrumental in rethinking the scope and scale of our plans and ambitions. The coaching has been superb: a great deal of experience and shared in an understandable and fun manner. It has been quite a journey, reshaping the plan, testing thinking, working alongside start-ups. It has led us to greatly change our target and we are now looking to make a much bigger splash in the food tray manufacturing world,” he said.
OTB Vendors’ Patrick Songore concurred: “The Catalyst experience was fantastic; definitely better than I had expected. The wealth of knowledge that you have access to is extremely rare from people who have a tonne of experience. The constant challenging of your thoughts is great. After testing and adjusting our business model, a few changes needed to be made to funding and management approaches to achieve the best outcomes.”
Nirray’s Matthew Jensen is no stranger to running a business but even so, he noted benefits from the programme in terms of decision making. “I have personally found my mentor to be a huge asset of my business strategy and I have been more efficient in decision-making and key operations than if I had not been in the cohort. Catalyst is the best business support programme I have engaged with.”
Small peer group working was universally regarded as hugely beneficial, as Gera.Solutions’ founder, Anita Gera explained. “Working with other early-stage companies has been invaluable and meeting other Science Park staff and companies has also proven helpful. Peer to peer support and feedback is, I believe, one of the most meaningful ways of progressing. Working with the cohort has brought many real-life learning opportunities - it has far exceeded expectations.”
Hugh Smith of ES Consulting just wanted more! “From my perspective the programme has been excellent and delivered more that I was expecting. I of course would like it to be extended for longer than 6 months!” he reflected.
ANAMAD’s Sergey Mikhalovsky summarized the experience, commenting: “Our previous experience of other ‘catalysts’ led us to expect dry workshops and little else. What we have received far exceeded our expectations. It provided excellent advice on how to improve all aspects of the business, from sales and marketing, and intellectual property to finding key people. It has been more varied than expected and has come at just the right time for us to implement learnings. The standard of workshops, mentoring, networking, business panels and engagement from the other businesses has been exceptional all round and, as expected, the science park facilities are excellent.”
Engage and collaborate with the Catalyst 2021 Companies
- ANAMAD is revolutionising technology that will remove persistent organic pollutants from water without adding chemicals.
- ES Consulting is improving supply chain efficiency and profitability with a new level stock control and warehouse management system.
- Gera.Solutions is helping export companies to improve sales through consistent and effective communications across all platforms.
- KCC Packaging is supporting single-use plastic reduction targets with a revolutionary approach to food packaging.
- Nirray is redefining security and safety with LiDAR and geospacial detection solutions within the built environment and transport sectors.
- OhmSpace a spin-out from the University of Southampton, is disrupting the space market with a new satellite propulsion system.
- OTB Vendors is looking to improve profitability and service levels in the hospitality sector with a unique self-service bar.