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Paul Bello and Ian Colwill’s new consulting venture in partnership to innovate future defence vehicles

Innovation consultancy Catalyst Corporation contributing to project to explore future combat vehicle technologies.

Paul Bello and Ian Colwill (EMBA 2013).
Paul Bello and Ian Colwill (EMBA 2013)

A new venture by Executive MBA alumni Paul Bello and Ian Colwill (both EMBA 2013) has been announced as part of a £3.2m UK government project to innovate future vehicle systems.

The three-year project will focus on evaluating the latest technologies to assess what could be applied to future combat vehicles and the potential for integration into existing systems. Ultimately, the research will enable UK defence to invest in the right technology in a focused and assured way.

As part of a collaborative partnership led by defence and technology specialist QinetiQ, Bello and Colwill’s company, Catalyst Corporation will focus on innovation processes and new concept simulation.

Technology, strategy and innovation

Catalyst Corporation brings together specialisms in technology innovation, data-driven and user-centred design, and strategic thinking. Bridging the gap between traditional business consulting and small creative agency ideation, the company has ‘innovation in its DNA’, according to Bello, Co-Founder and Director.

Founded in 2019 and operating between London and Brighton, Catalyst Corporation has developed a commercially focused proposition and is ready to grow its portfolio of clients.

“Our mission is to deliver value and growth for businesses through innovative thinking, helping them do new and valuable things,” says Bello.

“We achieve this by combining authentic creativity that translates to business value.”

Fusing technical knowledge with business skills

Colwill and Bello met while studying for their Executive MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School. With complementary backgrounds in aeronautical engineering and product innovation respectively, and the knowledge and perspectives gained from the Executive MBA, they quickly developed a value proposition that capitalised on their skills.

“I’ve always been a technology innovator,” says Colwill, also Co-Founder and Director. “I started my career developing experimental military aircraft, moving up through degrees and a PhD in engineering. Eventually, I combined a role in academia as a university lecturer and PhD supervisor with working as a leader and co-founder of an advanced technology research business.”

Bello’s path began in information studies and data access, achieving a BSc in Information Studies and an MSc in Human-Centred Computer Systems.

“After completing my masters degree, I spent many years in user-centred design and innovation across digital products and services, internet and telecommunications, and worked as an independent consultant on projects in these areas for twelve years.”

Consolidating commercial knowledge and entrepreneurial ambitions

Bello, a member of Downing College, and Colwill, of Hughes Hall, joined the Executive MBA programme in 2013 to gain cross-functional business knowledge and develop a commercial lens through which they could bring their specialisms to market.

“There are lots of technical skills that are essential in the creation of a business, such as a strong understanding of finance and cash-flow, investment, strategic thinking and marketing,” says Bello. “The Executive MBA provided lessons across these areas that we really benefited from while establishing Catalyst Corporation. It gave us the confidence to found our business.”

Colwill and Bello highlight the Team Consulting Project (TCP), which sees participants help an organisation of their choice address real business challenges, invaluable.

“The breadth of the subjects covered on the programme and the practical application through the TCP enabled us to pitch our proposition with confidence from day one and win a number of high-profile, valuable and impactful projects.”

How to find out more

Catalyst Corporation is keen to help established businesses that want to explore next-phase growth, or are concerned about potential risks of new tech, start-ups and competition.