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The Last Word: Rebecca Robinson

Closing this month’s issue of North East Times Magazine, Rebecca Robinson, centre manager at The Catalyst, reflects on the Newcastle-based venue hitting full occupancy just two years after opening, and how the base is bolstering the region’s already strong reputation for innovation.


Why has The Catalyst proven so popular with organisations?

The Catalyst has been designed to be truly collaborative, with grade A office space, meeting, conference and event spaces, our fantastic on-site café and breakout areas and pods for co-working. 

It is an attractive proposition to many businesses wanting to be at the heart of innovation in a multi-award-winning building.  

During the design process, we carried out a high level of community engagement to ensure The Catalyst was fully accessible for all. 

Throughout, we have integrated accessible design details to allow those with mobility issues to navigate the building with minimal support. 

In addition to the specialist facilities and flexible spaces on offer, the collaborative nature of our centre has created a supportive environment to catalyse world-changing ideas.


How much has the presence of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing and the National Innovation Centre for Data as anchor operators helped attract companies to The Catalyst?

The National Innovation Centre for Ageing and National Innovation Centre for Data are key components to The Catalyst.

Put simply, they are the key to linking the ecosystem together.  

Aside from the building’s fascinating and thoughtful design, the real draw is the ability to collaborate, grow and develop new groundbreaking ideas with support from the two innovation centres. 

It is a truly unique opportunity and has created a cluster of like-minded businesses, which, together with academia, are developing services and products for the future to help us age well, live longer and deliver new insights through data.

Leveraging the experience and expertise of older adults while harnessing big data, the National Innovation Centres for Ageing and Data are uniquely positioned to optimise the opportunities provided by the demographic revolution.

This brings the ability to personalise user experience and generate insights into customer needs and wants, taking advantage of new opportunities to generate new revenue streams.


The Catalyst stands on land that was once a coal mine and latterly a brewery.  What does its creation say about the value of regional development and how much is it helping showcase the North East’s innovation and technical expertise to national and global audiences?

The Catalyst is situated within Newcastle Helix, which is a landmark innovation district where people come to collaborate, innovate and discover, with a focus on data, urban and life sciences. 

It’s fast becoming a buzzing hub of activity and has put Newcastle on the map as one of the most important innovation hubs in Europe – the vision of the partnership between Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council and Legal & General.

Our innovation centre has been purposefully built to attract internationally renowned researchers and scientists, with companies such as Red Hat, Dstl and Credera choosing to conduct business from The Catalyst. 

Hundreds of jobs have been created thanks to the fantastic businesses based here, and we’re thrilled to be fully occupied just two years after opening, which is evidence of the demand for a collaborative community within the innovation space. 

The activity happening at The Catalyst and within the wider Helix community is already highlighting – on a national and global level – the success of bringing together businesses, academia and the local community to create an inclusive innovation district where people can share expertise, skills and ideas for the future.