INCUBATORS AND INNOVATION

When the CEO of the University of Southampton Science Park
(USSP) – a thriving business hub for startups through to multinationals, and
easily one of the UK's top University-linked science and innovation
campuses – outlined his vision to further assist new STEM entrepreneurs,
React Communications was on point to plan, manage and launch USSP
Catalyst in 2012.

A not-for-profit incubator, Catalyst would offer mentoring, work space, resources and financial support for new science, technology and engineering businesses, exposing entrepreneurs to the kind of weighty opportunities that could propel ideas forward fast. And as the shop window for innovation at the Science Park, Catalyst would also serve as the publicity and communications division of USSP, promoting and announcing the day-to-day 

breakthroughs taking place on-site. From conception to planning and launch, React's brief was to manage the Catalyst concept in its entirety, creating the strategy, public relations and marketing plans, sourcing the first round

of applicants and aiding the efforts of the judging panel in assessing and appraising candidates.

 

The task was big – but Catalyst today is a hugely successful, influential and esteemed facility. It empowers world-beating and disruptive ideas, and promotes success stories regularly. Validation of the facility – and the robust strategic foundations laid by React Communications – is a daily occurrence. And the agency continues to play its part: offering public relations and marketing advice to new businesses that enter the Catalyst incubator.

Imperative from the outset was the need to brand Catalyst above and apart from the countless other incubation facilities set up following the announcement of a new Government startup fund. Correspondingly, React’s strategy document recommended a distinctly high bar be set for applicants so as to encourage only the highest calibre projects and businesses. Preferring quality over quantity, USSP Catalyst was positioned as one of the UK’s only incubators that doesn’t demand equity from its startups. Having established recruitment parameters, the first move in the strategy was to enlist support from appropriate media contacts – locally, nationally and internationally –to push the message far and wide to students, budding entrepreneurs and startups.

To capitalise on the initial publicity blast, a carefully crafted social media campaign kicked in, perpetuating interest and momentum for Catalyst. With social media buzzing, the

opportunity arose to deliver – in more longhand form – the ultimate services and benefits on offer with USSP Catalyst via a series of informative, strategically-placed blogs

and articles. As the deadline for submissions drew nearer, in came some fitting celebrity endorsements, including Ricky Martin, winner of the BBC’s Apprentice 2012, who was the face of Catalyst’s launch – at no cost. That announcement was heavily supported via social media from Ricky’s peers and his network, including fellow Apprentice star Tom Pellereau. This coordinated phase of the campaign saw website traffic increase 20-fold.

© 2018 by React Comms Ltd.