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Photo Credit: ICC Belfast

INVENT celebrates innovation in Northern Ireland and this year was no different. Entrepreneurship is very much at the forefront of peoples’ minds and innovation is needed now more than ever. The INVENT Awards, organised by Catalyst and supported by headline sponsor Bank of Ireland UK, were live-streamed from the purpose-built ICC Belfast Hybrid Studio.

The awards night celebrated the brightest new business ideas in the region by supporting, showcasing and rewarding the local innovations that have the greatest commercial potential. As the venue shone bright with Catalyst’s brand colours and logo, William Crawley’s charismatic presenting and the finalists’ socially distanced energy and enthusiasm in the Studio, created the live event atmosphere that we all love and have missed.

The event showcased the finalists’ journeys through exciting videos that had been captured as they sought to win a share of the £33,000 prize fund. Before announcing the 2020 winners, the audience heard from previous INVENT winners as they spoke about their inspirational and ambitious journey, and how they have continued to be creative and determined in their response to the pandemic.

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Photo Credit: ICC Belfast

The seamless online platform increased engagement and there were viewers tuning in from near and far, with record numbers of 700 sign-ups, 893 live viewers, 12 finalists within the studio and overall views exceeding 1,500.

Dave Young, Head of Production at ICC Belfast commented:

“Our aim was to deliver something more than just a live stream, we wanted a fully immersive and interactive event. Having a small socially distanced audience allowed us to keep that ‘event buzz’. Viewers at home had the chance to interact and have a real-time influence on the night via the voting polls on the best elevator pitch. To make sure the event still had a presence within the city, the venue was lit up with 46 up-lighters, as well as a 20k HD projector showcasing Catalyst’s logo.”

Bridgeen Callan, KLAS-PDT Technology, INVENT 2020 winner said:

“ICC Belfast was exceptional as a venue, the ability to safely meet fellow finalists for the first time in the flesh was both amazing and inspiring. To not only be able to listen to the other pitches, but to feel the atmosphere, and experience the tension and excitement in the room. I will remember this night for the flawless production, the atmosphere and celebration.”

This event is a highlight in the Northern Ireland business calendar. Although the round table dinner conversations and the buzz of a live event are inimitable, engaging virtual delegates and providing them with an authentic experience was successfully delivered. The exciting atmosphere was evident in the busy comments section of the virtual platform. Viewers expressed their support and congratulated the finalists and everyone involved, as well as engaging in the voting poll for the best elevator pitch, to which Truss Buddy took home the £1,000 prize.

The overall winner of INVENT 2020 was KLAS PDT Technology, a peptide-based non-invasive therapy for metastatic melanoma, a type of skin cancer. It is used alongside current immunotherapies to increase their effectiveness at a reduced cost to the provider and less toxicity for the user.

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Photo Credit: ICC Belfast

“We wanted to ensure that we somehow celebrated our amazing finalists and showcased the innovative companies especially at this unpreceded time.”

KLAS PDT Technology also won the Life & Health Sciences category. Life and health sciences is a thriving sector in Northern Ireland, with a reputation for innovation and world-class scientific research from Belfast’s two universities, Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.

Other category winners on the night were Sport Buff (Creative Media and Consumer Internet), Movetru (Enterprise Software), Stallion Services (Agri Science), AJEA (Engineering) and AntennaWare (Electronics).

Kerry McGarvey commented: “We were able to use a mixture of live, on-stage content combined with dynamic exciting video content. The team were incredible to work with and the standard of the production was epic. The health and safety of the team and those live in the studio was a priority and we were able to maintain safe social distancing. The highest of safety precautions were in place allowing us to feel safe, thank you to the whole team at ICC Belfast.”

Laurel Gray, Event Manager at ICC Belfast commented: “We welcomed back the annual Catalyst INVENT Awards, an event I always love to work on with Kerry McGarvey. Like everything in 2020, their event was a little different this year. We hosted our first awards ceremony in our Hybrid Studio and what a night it was! It was fantastic to use the space to host the finalists at a safe social distance, live stream the event and give the 2020 winner the opportunity to receive their award outside of their own home.”

Delivering world-class events that are hybrid by design and at which every delegate has a multi-sensory experience that is truly unique to Belfast is the team’s goal for these next few months as the industry shows early signs of recovery.