27 October 2023

Catalyst: future workspaces in a hotbed of innovation

Catalyst remains Northern Ireland’s leading science and technology hub focused on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship – bringing in a host of top businesses from international giants to fresh start-ups. It’s now offering up a variety of office and laboratory workspaces to the market, alongside Osborne King, and will attract everything from well-established multi-nationals to SMEs and single-desk entrepreneurs.

Catalyst has already made a name for itself on the international marketplace as both a destination for innovation and a location like no other.

It’s home to some of the world’s biggest businesses such as Citi group and Peloton, but also plays host to dozens of indigenous companies at the forefront of technology, like Artemis Technologies, and pHion Therapeutics.

But Catalyst is also one of the city’s largest landlords – operating several major buildings across a 280,000 sq ft estate ranging from single desk co-working spaces to large 10,000 sq ft workspaces with self-contained kitchens and custom-built laboratory facilities.

It also operates its Fort George site in Derry/Londonderry, with plans for further development.

Catalyst is also one of the most forward-thinking places to do business and collaborate, and is putting a lot of energy and focus into its own green credentials and ESG.

This includes plans to become carbon neutral by 2040, avoiding sending its waste to landfill, installing 36 electric vehicle charge points across all campuses and utilising solar energy. Its overall carbon output is now three times lower than the European Environmental Agency benchmark.

Connectivity is also a strong point for Catalyst, with a direct Glider link from Belfast city centre, ample parking, and a Belfast Bikes docking station for those who want to travel with the greenest credentials.

“We have two main locations, our campus in Titanic Quarter, Belfast and our site in Fort George, Derry/Londonderry where we currently have a single building of 30,000 sq ft,” Craig Stewart, head of estates and development at Catalyst, said.

“We also have planning for a second building at Fort George which we hope to start in the near future.

“We have 250,000 sq ft of built space across seven buildings at our Belfast/Titanic Quarter campus. There’s the Innovation Centre, White Star House, the three Concourse buildings, which are multi-tenanted and the historic Pump House, which sits alongside HMS Caroline, along with the Legacy Building.”

“The scale of our estate and flexibility of our workspaces means many companies can start out as micro operations, or even as sole traders, before moving into larger premises and expanding within the estate itself, all of which Catalyst can help to seamlessly deliver. We are 95% occupied so it’s finding those additional companies that will fit within the Catalyst community.”

Catalyst is now bringing its remaining office and laboratory workspace to the market – ranging from 200 sq ft private offices to 7,500 sq ft
Richard McCaig, director at Osborne King which is marketing Catalyst, says: “Catalyst has transformed from its early days as a science park and is now much more, serving key technology clusters such as human health, fintech, cyber and regtech, supported by a rich innovation community and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“We have people working across a very broad range of areas now as part of Catalyst’s continued growth and expansion. We have firms such as Artemis Technologies, Lightyear and Phion Therapeutics. It’s everything from office work to research and lab work.

“We offer a high degree of flexibility. We have our IT and fibre systems already in place and have furniture packs available – essentially giving a workspace that can be ready to walk into from day one.”

“We can also be very flexible in terms of occupancy agreements, which can be tailored to meet individual requirements.

“Part of the Catalyst model is supporting business scaling and we work hard to ensure we can facilitate scale-ups or scale-downs within the estate, as required”.

Catalyst has been at the forefront of this level of flexibility and development of ‘ready to go’ workspaces for many years, according to Richard.

“The low capital spend on the way in makes this all very attractive to businesses,” he says. “Catalyst can do the fit-out alongside a team of professionals who have done it for the last 15 years.

“The rest of the market has woken up to that. Catalyst offers a total and complete package – you can be two people growing to 20, or 20 people growing to 50.”

Craig says what also makes Catalyst attractive is the environment and facilities on offer.

“In addition to our quality workspaces we have a top end gym, an event space, multiple food offers and an abundance of free car parking on site.

“We have EV charging stations and the Glider stop which takes you to or from City Hall in 10 minutes. It’s an extremely accessible site with everything in a single location.”

Catalyst also offers a naturally collaborative environment in which companies of all shapes and sizes are able to work together or connect on projects, ideas and concepts.

“You often see businesses mixing together in our café, which is run by Yellow Door. You can come down for a coffee, socialise and mix, so there is definitely that element of collaboration.”

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