Catalyst appoints three directors to drive innovation in Northern Ireland

6 Sep 2022

Paul Hannigan, Jeanette Walker and Prof Mark Ferguson. Image: Catalyst

Former SFI head Prof Mark Ferguson is one of the trio joining the board of Catalyst, along with Jeanette Walker and Paul Hannigan.

Catalyst, the science and tech hub in Northern Ireland, has appointed three industry leaders to its board.

They will oversee the implementation of the non-profit organisation’s new five-year strategy as it looks to boost entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.

Prof Mark Ferguson, former director general of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), has been appointed as a non-executive director to Catalyst’s board. Ferguson will be joined by Jeanette Walker and Paul Hannigan.

Walker is the former director of the Cambridge Science Park. She brings extensive experience to the board from a career in marketing and business. Her previous roles include head of new business at East of England International and director of business development at the Eastern Region Biotechnology Initiative.

Hannigan is the president of Letterkenny Institute of Technology, which is now part of Atlantic Technological University. He is a former member of the Higher Education Authority and is currently a board member of the Central Applications Office and chair of its audit committee. He also currently serves on the Donegal County Development Board and the North West Regional Executive of Ibec.

Walker, Hannigan and Ferguson will work with Catalyst to strengthen Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurial scene. One of the programmes Catalyst runs is Invent, an annual accelerator programme dedicated to supporting emerging Northern Ireland start-ups. The winner of Invent 2022 was recently named as Vikela Armour.

Ellvena Graham, chair of Catalyst, welcomed the new additions to the board.

“We are pleased that we have been able to add three professionals of their calibre and look forward to benefiting from their expertise and experience. Their outstanding sector knowledge will help Catalyst in its mission to create opportunity for all from world-leading innovation,” she said.

“As we look at the next five years and beyond, the board believes there is a huge opportunity for Catalyst to make an even greater impact on the local economy and wider society.”

The trio will take their places as two other board members step down. They are Alec McRitchie and Claire Colhoun, who have served a combined total of 16 years with Catalyst.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.