Applications are currently closed.

Funded by the Somerset councils, Somerset Catalyst is part of a wider business support programme that is rolling out across the county. Its goal is to create the necessary positive culture, support system and infrastructure to create economic growth that will ripple across all its communities and put Somerset on the innovation map of the UK. This project is also part funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.

Successful candidates benefit from free support including: 

  • One-to-one expert coaching 
  • Workshops on key aspects of running a business  
  • Peer support group  
  • Profile raising marketing support  
  • Business review panels with industry experts 
  • Help to prepare for and access business finance 
  • 14-week duration 

To keep up to date with news from this year’s programme and our insightful blogs, please visit our news page.

To read some inspiring stories and testimonials, please read our case studies.

To learn more about the experts and mentors for this year’s programme, have a look at our team page.


Selection Criteria

Selection criteria are simple, but the panel will be looking for businesses which they judge to have growth potential, the capability to execute a business strategy and, above all, which stand out from the competition. The panel interviews will involve a 10-minute pitch followed by up to 30 minutes of Q&A.

Acceptance onto the programme is conditional on the successful applicants committing to:

  • attending coaching sessions, workshops and business review panels;
  • spending a minimum of 2 days per week working on the business including the business plan;
  • participating in marketing events and promotion of the Somerset Catalyst Programme from time to time.


What is the deadline?

Applications for the 2022 programme are now closed.

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Does it cost anything to enter?

The Somerset Catalyst programme is completely free to enter. All the resources, support and expert time is being funded by Somerset County Council and the four Somerset District Councils (South Somerset District CouncilMendip District CouncilSedgemoor District Council and Taunton & West Somerset District Council), to give start-ups and early stage businesses the best chance of success. All that we ask from you is your time, commitment and dedication to the programme and your business.

Who is eligible?

We encourage entries from all businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators within the administrative postcode boundaries of Somerset (South Somerset District Council, Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Taunton & West Somerset District Council). Whether you have an exciting business idea or fully functioning business, we want to hear from you and find out more.

I’m not based in the area shown on the map, can I still apply?

The programme is geographically funded by Somerset County Council and the four Somerset District Councils (South Somerset District CouncilMendip District CouncilSedgemoor District Council and Taunton & West Somerset District Council) so applicants must live in these areas or their companies must be based or trading from an address in these areas. Information on business support in neighbouring regions can be sought from your local growth hub, for example the Heart of the South West Growth Hub or the West of England Growth Hub. A full list of England’s Growth Hubs can be found here.

Do I need to have an existing business or is an idea enough?

We welcome entries from all stages of businesses. Our panel are looking businesses or ideas which they judge to have growth potential, the capability to execute a business strategy and, above all, stand out from the competition. So, whether you have an active and transactional business, or are still developing your assets and offerings, we want to hear from you and help you take your business to the next level.

What is the selection process?

Once you have completed and submitted your application our expert panel will review and score your entry against the competition. The Somerset Catalyst team will then shortlist their top entries and invite them to meet with the panel (in line with strict Government/Covid-19 advice). Here, you will be asked to give a short, 10 minute presentation to the panel, followed by up to 30 minutes of questions and discussion. During this element, the panel will be looking to identify if your business:

  • is capable of delivering value, has a defined customer target and makes/will make a profit,
  • has a relevant customer base who will be enhanced by your offering, wants to engage with your business, and is prepared to pay for your product/service,
  • has a team who are capable of building the business, work cohesively together (if more than one member), and is prepared to take on feedback and adapt.

When all the shortlisted applicants have been seen, the panel will select the ten entrepreneurs and invite them to join the Somerset Catalyst programme.

How long is the programme?

The programme lasted fourteen weeks, and kicked off earlier this year in March.

What is the structure of the programme?

The programme will be tailored for each successful applicant and will vary from business to business. However, we will be building the following into each bespoke programme:

  • One-to-one expert coaching
  • Workshops on key aspects of running a business
  • Peer support group
  • Profile raising marketing support
  • Business review panels with industry experts
  • Help to access and prepare for business finance and resources

When will successful applicants be selected?

Applicants were contacted individually to let them know if they had been successful. Interviews took place in late March.

Who are the mentors on the programme?

You can find out more about our team here.

Can I read your privacy notice?

You can read our privacy notice here.

I don’t employ anyone, is that a problem?

We welcome applicants from sole-traders and entrepreneurs who work individually, as well as larger businesses and those with a team already established.

What steps are you putting in place considering the current pandemic?

We will continue to follow the advice from the Government and guidance from the World Health Organisation and Public Health England. For any in-person meetings, we will ensure we are adhering to social distancing measures, follow strict cleaning measures of all surfaces and areas we work in, and advise everyone to wear a face covering (as required).

Will we still get face to face mentoring?

We are hoping to be able to offer this, but it will rely on the advice and guidelines from the Government. If it is not possible, we will endeavour to offer the same level of support, guidance, and access to our experts via video conferencing software, telephone consultations and private groups on and off-line.

Are there any additional funding or investment opportunities as part of the programme?

Whilst the Somerset Catalyst programme itself does not provide financial investment or funding for your business, our team of well-connected experts will be able to support you with access and advice, and direct you to relevant and valuable funding opportunities for your business.

What if I’m not eligible for this programme or I’m not selected, is there other support available?

If you don’t think this programme is for you, visit your local District Council’s website (for example South Somerset District Council, Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Taunton & West Somerset District Council) for information on other business support that is available to you beyond the Somerset Catalyst programme. You can also access information on business support from your local growth hub, for example the Heart of the South West Growth Hub or the West of England Growth Hub. A full list of England’s Growth Hubs can be found here.

Will I get to speak to other businesses and start-ups?

One of the great components of our programme is that you will have the opportunity to meet, network with and problem solve with other dynamic and passionate business owners and entrepreneurs. Where possible (depending on Covid-19 guidelines), we will ensure you have regular time to meet up with your peers throughout the duration of this programme. We will also connect you with these peers, so you can talk and meet up on your own timetables too.

What happens if I cannot make some of the events or workshops?

We understand that everyone has external pressures and commitments, so missing the occasional event is OK. We would stress however that in order to give your business the best possible chance of success, it is important to attend and engage with all the workshops and activities we deliver as part of the programme.

Where will face to face workshops and events take place (if appropriate during the current climate)?

Depending on the Covid-19 guidelines and each premises’ restrictions, we plan to be able to host these workshops around the county at innovative and inspiring venues. These venues will be confirmed as soon as possible.

Have you got any examples of success, or where this has been trialled?

We held a pilot scheme of this programme in Summer 2019, where we welcomed a group of amazing young businesses and entrepreneurs to join together across a couple of days at the Yeovil Innovation Centre. Take a look at some of the businesses we have supported so far here.

What are the expectations of the successful applicants?

We expect you be passionate, show dedication to the programme, and give your business the time it deserves to grow and flourish. We will be organising and hosting a series of workshops, coaching sessions and business review panels across the six-month programme and hope you will make every effort to attend these. We expect you to be actively working on your business each week, spending a minimum of two days a week dedicated to its development, your business plan and next steps – we will absolutely support you at each stage.