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The Mini Innovation Catalyst

Peer-learning programme designed to help Liverpool businesses collaborate to develop new low carbon innovations for a prosperous and sustainable future for the North West.

Eco-I NW Innovation Catalyst funding logos which include: Eco-I North West, Centre for Global Eco-Innvation, European Regional Development Fund, Northern Powerhouse.

About the Mini Catalyst

This is a historic programme that was funded by ERDF between 2014 and 2020. For further information about other business opportunities email

This Mini Innovation Catalyst is designed for ambitious Liverpool SME leaders interested in connecting with like-minded regional peers, our academic expertise an industry partners to address the opportunities and challenges posed by the Net Zero Carbon agenda.

Tab Content: Overview

By creating the space to innovate and collaborate, this fully funded programme* works to build resilient, sustainable innovation ecosystems in the food and drink sector across the North West. Our Innovation Catalyst has proven to be a 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. Learn more the programme's ongoing success in Cumbria.

For businesses who wish to be involved, this is an ideal opportunity to tap into a broad range of innovation expertise, and to co-create the learning process so that it is fit for your purpose.

This programme is designed and delivered by Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) and forms part of Eco-I North West, a £14m project led by The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University and in partnership with the universities of Central Lancashire, Cumbria, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Met.

*This programme is fully funded and is available to businesses which are eligible under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) criteria, please see eligibility tab for further details.

Logos of universities of Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Cumbria, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores and Manchester Met - Eco-I NW partners

Tab Content: Timescale and programme detail

During the Mini Catalyst we will facilitate a series of investigative and action-focused sessions to collectively map out your goals, challenges, and innovation needs - drawing in the right expertise at the right time for you.

Day 1: Mini-Catalyst Activation

  • Face-to-face
  • This is the formation of the Innovation Catalyst: A full-day event to build 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.
  • Lunch and refreshments provided

Site Visit to Veolia Discovery Centre, Liverpool

Innovation Collaboratories

  • Expertly facilitated by LUMS, Innovation Collaboratories are a solutions focused space to exchange knowledge, expertise and resources to accelerate innovation and encourage exponential change.
  • In these sessions Task Force members will have the opportunity to experiment with new ideas and discuss solutions to challenges with policy makers, influential business leaders, and academic experts.

Challenge Action Groups with Student Engagement Fellows (Flexible dates - as agreed by the group)

  • Sessions will result in Challenge Action Groups to provide the group with the space they need 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.

Closing Symposium

  • 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.
  • Lunch and refreshments provided

Tab Content: Eligibility

This programme is fully funded and is available to businesses which are eligible under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) criteria, as follows:

  • Based in North West England
  • Employ fewer than 250 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees
  • Annual turnover of less than €50 million (or the equivalent in GBP)
  • Received less than €200,000 of de minimis State Aid in the last 3 years.

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

Benefits to your Business

The Mini Catalyst is designed to help Liverpool based food and drink sector-related SMEs to innovate, develop and become a part of a regional innovation ecosystem to be at the forefront of Net Zero Carbon innovation for the sector.

Develop your leadership

Develop your own leadership through critical thinking, reflection, collaboration, generating greater capacity and confidence.

Plan for the future

Future proof your business in the current challenging and changing environment.

Join a peer-network

Work with like-minded business leaders to tackle key challenges in your sector and mobilise new ideas through collective experimentation, testing, prototyping and innovation.

Access key regional networks and resources

Collaborate and engage with key stakeholders to accelerate idea creation while accessing cutting edge research, facilities and expertise at Lancaster and partner universities.

Success in Cumbria

Our Cumbrian food & drink sector cohort of Eco-I North West's Innovation Catalyst worked to develop effective and sustainable solutions to the big environmental issues that effect their organisations and the region. Play video to learn more about their ongoing success.

Discover more support

Eco-I North West is the first project of its kind that opens up huge regional resource to businesses, working across a wide range of sectors, research disciplines and project themes. Delivered by a consortium of six universities this funded initiative also offers businesses a range of short-term or in-depth research and development support.

Discover R&D support