First Round of successful Catalyst 2018 applicants announced - RSA

Catalyst Recipients: Round 1 2018


  • Picture of Amy Butterworth
    Amy Butterworth
  • Catalyst
  • Fellowship
  • Fellowship in Action

We are delighted to announce the projects the Catalyst Grant has funded for Round 1, 2018.

Every year, we run three rounds of awards for Fellows to apply for project funding. The options are 

      • £2,000 Seed Grants, for when you have a seed of an idea that you want to pilot,
      • and £10,000 Scaling Grants for proven concepts that are ready to grow.
Reviewed by a panel of RSA Staff, and then a panel of Fellowship Councillors, the projects that are funded are those that are
      • innovative in addressing a societal need,
      • a sustainable model,
      • and have a clear outline of ‘what happens next’.
Once again, we have selected a diverse range of projects that we feel have the potential to make real change in a new way, from passionate Fellows close to their subject area. Thank you to all those involved in the process, and congratulations to the recipients!


Urban Workbench (Liverpool) – Kate Stewart FRSA A community projectdelivering joinery, upcycling, furniture making and DIY skills to local people in underserved areas, which they can then use to create social enterprises. Working with all ages, Urban Workbench builds skills and networks and resources of individuals to create more resilient communities in the deprived areas around Liverpool.

Now they want to grow their project to meet demand, and bring the work further to Newcastle, Stoke-On-Trent and Barking.

Lab_13 (International) – Rick Hall FRSA A previous Catalyst recipient, whose project scaled in an unexpectedly effective way, Lab_13 is back to scale in a different direction.  The last project implemented student-led science labs in schools around the world, and this time they want to scale digitally.

The project seeks to develop an interactive web platform for children to exchange research questions and to collaborate in investigations in real time. Collaborating with another FRSA, they also aim to introduce sustainable technology to sub-Saharan Africa and parts of India, developing the capacity for internet conferencing school children and the Scientists in Residence. They are also building the Lab_13 Cookbook, an online compendium of experiments and investigations.

SEED GRANTS (£2,000)

Airbase (South East) – Christoph Martyn Xavier Warrack FRSA Addressing a need for more learning space in rural areas of the UK, Airbase is an online platform connecting educators and students with venues – a sort of Airbnb for education. It has the potential to build community resilience by enabling any premises to host learning and skills development, and any individual to find and build their own vocational pathway.

The project’s one-week pilot in Devon will test the concept, to inform the next phase of development. Check out Christoph’s blog about revitalising unused spaces to create learning opportunities.

Women’s Empowerment in Central Vietnam (Vietnam) – Alison Kwan FRSA A simple, sustainable business model supporting women in rural areas to build their own independent businesses. Converting basic food commodities into premium dried goods using solar dryers has proved successful in 3 Southeast Asian countries, reducing poverty and creating value-added production.

However, farmers can be reluctant to invest in the dryers without testing the produce, so this project installs 5 prototypes, for 30% of the cost, and as stheir business develops can own them outright. This model can be replicated and scaled, to further empower communities to consider sustainable businesses and technological opportunities in the future.

Talk Shop on health and social care (Central)Perry Walker FRSA In the light of funding cuts to health and social care funding, and continual delay in action from politicians, Talk Shop aims to start the national conversation on health and social care amongst citizens.

The project is to develop and distribute a discussion kit, aiming to reach 1,000 people, to enable and guide discussions on key dilemmas. The next step is to learn how to reach 10,000 people in a future project, and how to turn the results of all these discussions into a ‘people’s compact’ with government and public services.

County Lines (London) – Joe Caluori FRSA Gangs in urban areas have, for years, groomed teenagers and children to deal drugs in rural areas – crossing ‘county lines’. Here, they set up temporary bases to deal from, while the children are listed as missing at home. Using data in an innovative way to address various factors in this complex issue, County Lines aims to develop a toolkit for Local Authorities to share intelligence.  

The project will run two workshops with key individuals from Islington and a County Council to refine the analytical methodology in connecting data from both areas, and brainstorming responses to findings. A pioneering approach in response to the absence of local government action, this model could be scaled up to save children in danger nationwide.

Bread Funds UK (London) – Stuart Field FRSA When self-employed people get sick, there is no sick pay, but Bread Funds UK has a suggestion. Taking inspiration from Holland, where it has successfully run for some years, Bread Funds UK enable a group of people to help each other financially if they are unable to work for more than 30 days. It encourages community, based on self-organisation, trust and mutual support, and is an alternative to income protection insurance, which currently only 9% of self-employed people in the UK have.

The project will run a pilot with groups of 25-50 people to test proof of concept. Members pay joining fees and monthly contributions, and can approach the group whenever they are financially disadvantaged. You can check out Stuart’s blog from last year for more information.


The closing date to apply for the next round of Catalyst funding is Tuesday 18th September. More information on Catalyst and further RSA support can be found on our website. If you have any questions about applying for Catalyst support, email the Catalyst Team. Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly with questions.

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