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Innovation Catalyst - Lancashire

Taskforce collaborations for the manufacturing and engineering sector to innovate for a prosperous and sustainable future in Lancashire

About the Catalyst

The Innovation Catalyst is designed for influential/ambitious business leaders interested in connecting with academic expertise and like-minded peers to address the 21st Century Big Challenges.

By creating the space to innovate and collaborate, this fully funded initiative works to build resilient, sustainable innovation ecosystems in manufacturing and engineering sectors across Lancashire. The Innovation Catalyst is a proven and powerful way of helping individual firms and regional collectives with shared issues to develop effective long-term solutions that capture greater value for them and for the region.

Over a four-month period we will facilitate a series of investigative and action-focused ‘Innovation Collaboratories’ to collectively map out the goals, challenges, and innovation needs - with a particular focus on addressing the challenges posed by the net zero agenda and cyber security threats.

The aim of the Catalyst is to build an ecosystem of businesses, industry experts, academics, public sector bodies and other interested parties to solve both individual and shared challenges.

The taskforce is designed for businesses of all sizes within the Manufacturing and Engineering sectors based in Lancashire.

Starts: 22 March 2022.


This project is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund. The Innovation Catalyst programme is designed and delivered by Lancaster University in partnership with Lancashire County Council.

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The programme begins by forming the ‘Innovation Catalyst’ at a two-day, induction event designed to stimulate ideas for tackling challenges in the sector. This immersive start will develop the peer group; building trust, creating bonds and developing interaction and energy to activate ideas and commitment to tackle the challenge. The process works through mapping goals, challenges and needs. A shared commitment will be formed.

Expertly facilitated by Lancaster University Management School, Innovation Collaborations are a solutions focused space to exchange knowledge, share expertise and resources to accelerate innovation and encourage exponential change. Opportunity to experiment with new ideas and discuss solutions to challenges with policy makers, influential business leaders and academic experts.

An expert speaker will join the group to inspire and inform on a specific topic, thereby creating a sense of urgency. This will galvanise the group to act by seeking further research information.

These break-out sessions will be formed independently by delegates in either pairs or smaller groups (accompanied by an Engagement Fellow). They will provide the group with space to actively experiment, test and learn from ideas developed during facilitated activity. This could include researching innovation barriers such as resource constraints, organisational structures, processes, or stakeholder conflicts. Findings will be shared with the wider group. This process seeks to develop insight and idea generation - accelerating innovation.

Engagement Fellows are Lancaster University students who provide insight, perspective and resource as equal members of the Catalyst taskforce. Recruited from faculties across the university, they bring diverse knowledge, expertise and ideas to the group. As representatives of the future generation of innovators, Fellows actively contribute to ideas generation and project planning, inform process through research and development, and accelerate progress through collaboration.

This session will reflect on the groups journey and ensure that action is planned to continue to tackle the challenges outside of the Catalyst. Regrouping and sharing of activity. By this point, the group will have developed an ecosystem of firms, industry experts, academics, support service providers and others that has the ability to solve/has solved both individual and shared challenges.

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Benefits to Business

  • To lead a sustainable revolution in your sector
  • Collaborate and engage with key stakeholders to accelerate idea creation
  • Access cutting edge research, facilities and expertise at Lancaster University
  • Mobilise new ideas through collective experimentation, testing, prototyping and innovation
  • Work with like-minded business leaders to tackle key challenges in your sector and place
  • Develop your leadership capability through critical thinking, reflection and collaboration
  • Future proof your business in the changing environment

Costs & Eligibility

This initiative is fully funded by the Community Renewal Fund and is available to all businesses that meet the followng criteria

  • Based in Lancashire (excluding Blackpool and Blackburn)
  • Business must be in the manufacturing or engineering sector, or have links to these sectors
  • Commitment to attend all sessions and be an active participant

Find out more about how and why Lancaster University and our funding bodies holds your information.


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