Invent 2023 start-up competition launched with £50,000 prize fund

14 Feb 2023

From left: Meg Magill, Peter Gilleece, Niall Devlin and Elaine Smyth. Image: Catalyst

This year’s Invent has five categories – greentech, health and wellbeing, product, business software and consumer software.

Catalyst, the technology hub based in Belfast, has launched its latest Invent competition for start-ups in the region with a £50,000 prize fund.

The annual Invent start-up competition, run by Catalyst along with headline partner Bank of Ireland, aims to give early-stage start-ups and entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their innovations and business ideas that have the greatest potential for impact.

There is a top prize of £25,000 for the overall winner, who will be awarded at an event in the ICC Belfast in September. Last year’s overall winner wase Peter Gilleece’s Vikela Armour, which is developing body armour with a focus on comfort and providing complete protection.

This year’s competition has five categories: greentech, health and wellbeing, product, business software and consumer software. The winner in each category will get £5,000.

Elaine Smyth, director of innovation community at Catalyst, said that the competition provides a “unique opportunity” for local entrepreneurs and start-ups to showcase their innovations and set the spotlight on their ideas.

“There are talented individuals who are bursting with great ideas and the companies that go furthest in our competition are the ones who create new and innovative ways to address real world problems,” she said.

“Diversity and inclusivity are hot topics across the globe currently, so we are particularly interested in the products and solutions that entrepreneurs come up with to meet the brief.”

To recognise the importance of diversity and inclusion, Bank of Ireland is supporting a new award called Inclusive Innovation. Additional prizes for best elevator pitch and Student Invent will also be presented on the awards night.

“Our purpose is to enable our communities to thrive, and this is clearly demonstrated in our partnership with Catalyst, helping to develop innovation and entrepreneurship through the Invent programme,” said Niall Devlin, head of business banking NI at Bank of Ireland.

“During the many years we have supported Invent, the relevance of this innovation-focused programme has continued to grow and provide an important platform on which to showcase the great innovation and entrepreneurship that exists locally.”

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic