'Visionary' Catalyst Inc CEO to retire after 18 years

Catalyst Inc CEO, Dr Norman Apsley is to retire in December
Gareth McKeown

THE head of the Northern Ireland science park is to retire after 18 years at the helm.

Dr Norman Apsley will step down from his role as chief executive of Catalyst Inc in December, a position he has held since 2000.

Under Dr Apsley's leadership a derelict site in the Titanic Quarter has been transformed into a hub of innovation, now home to 200 knowledge-based companies, who employ over 3,000 people. Renamed Catalyst Inc in 2016 the park now has three campuses - the headquarters in Belfast, as well as two innovation centres in Derry and Ballymena.

Before becoming Catalyst Inc's first chief executive Dr Apsley worked in England for 30 years in applied research and the commercialisation of research. His esteemed career spans academia, government bodies and corporations, where his wide contribution to science and economic development earned him an OBE in 2012.

Speaking ahead of his retirement Dr Apsley said it was a "privilege" to have served as the head of Catalyst Inc for the past 18 years.

“When I came home at the invitation of the late Ernest Shannon, to be the first chief executive of what was then the Northern Ireland Science Park Foundation, Belfast and the whole country was just emerging from the rigours of the Troubles. It was still a bit grey and my late mother, among others, wondered if I had done the right thing. I had and still have no doubts. It has been a real privilege to be part of the process that is bringing this land, which we all love, back to life and vitality.”

Paying tribute to the outgoing CEO, Catalyst described Dr Apsley as a "visionary".

"Norman's mission and that of Catalyst Inc, is to make our ambitious vision ‘for Northern Ireland to be one of the most entrepreneurial, innovative and inclusive knowledge economies across Europe by 2030' a reality. Norman is a visionary who has been at the forefront of developing a knowledge economy in Northern Ireland since 2000," they said.

"The team here at Catalyst Inc look forward to continuing the journey that Norman began in the year 2000 and to fulfilling our ambitious plans for the future of Northern Ireland."

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