GEC Catalyst Programme

We support your commercialization journey. Validate your venture, test your assumptions, develop an investment strategy and create a personalized scale-up map designed to advance the path to full commercialization. 

Funded by the GEC and subject to European state aid.


The GEC Catalyst programme by Think Beyond™ is an invitation only, hybrid programme designed specifically for startups who have already launched the business, dedicated time to grow it and have initial feedback on their product and market. The GEC Catalyst uses an adapted Lean Launchpad approach that integrates best practices from Silicon Valley, America’s Seed Fund SBIR programme by I-Corp and VentureWell, leading US and European accelerators and Think Beyond™’s own multi-year domain expertise. Programme participants refine and test business assumptions to support their lean startup journey. Upon completion of the programme, startups will have a personalised scale-up map designed to advance them on the path to full commercialisation. 

Participants who successfully complete the programme may be invited to enter the GEC Scaling Factory, where they will receive personalised, operational scaling services.

The GEC Catalyst Programme


  • Cohort-based
  • tailored 10 weeks
  • twice-weekly online sessions plus individual mentorship
  • two days kick-off-in-person in Düsseldorf / Meerbusch and final investor pitching

Programme Modules

Each cohort is unique, and the programme is tailored to their needs, including a combination of the following modules

  • Impact measurement and reporting
  • Customer discovery and market opportunities
  • Capital strategy and financial models
  • Unique value proposition
  • SWOT analysis 
  • Business model
  • Marketing strategy
  • Partnerships and co-opetition
  • IP architecture

For whom?

Typical enrolment criteria

  • Team: 2-5 FTE
  • Technology readiness level: 4- 5
  • Commercial stage: Tested prototype, customer in discovery
  • Funding stage: pre-seed / seed

Your benefits

A grant to cover for a proven methodology integrating the best practices from the Silicon Valley to:

  • Validate your business model
  • Test your assumptions
  • Develop an investment strategy
  • Get ready for the GEC Scaling Factory


  • Personalized Roadmap Development​
  • Weekly Sessions​
  • Weekly Neighborhood Chat​​
  • GEC Forum
  • Mentorship
Programme Pillars

Participants test assumptions and validate them through an intense customer discovery process.

Rapidly iterate product strategy to address customer’s needs. Obtain real customer feedback to iterate (small adjustments) or pivot (substantive changes) faster. 

Substantive changes to business model hypotheses before spending millions of dollars and years of work. Fail faster. These changes avoid future dead-ends or costs and can be as small as changing position in the value chain to rethinking core technologies. 

  • This class is not about lectures but a hands-on experience. We fit guidance within startups’ real world: chaos, impossible deadlines, conflicting input, etc.

Every team member participates in customer discovery activities. You may not delegate customer discovery. 

Participants prepare at home. These lectures and additional reading contain the information that is needed to complete that week’s assignment. 

Online lectures are often supplemented by a deep-dive, in-class socratic-type lectures and guest speakers from industry, investor groups and NGOs. 

Each week participants present a 10-minute summary of their assignments. 

The class is a learning cohort. Each participant is responsible for help each other and learn from one another’s experiences. In addition, there are weekly sessions (“neighborhood chats”) with team interactions to share perspective and advice. 

Our GEC speakers and mentors give Catalyst classes and are mentors for our transformative entrepreneurs. They inspire and guide our impact community. 

Showcase your venture in fall at the GEC Forum and based on individual GEC investor matchmakings. 

At the beginning and throughout the program the GEC performs with you your venture’s impact assessment and report on the developments.

At the end of the course program your developments will be assessed according to GEC’s methodology. 

Our commitment to you

  • Proven methodology
  • Experienced speakers and mentors
  • Focus on sustainable impact
  • Potential entry for Catalyst alumni into the
    GEC Scaling Factory

Your commitment to us

  • Biweekly virtual sessions, 
  • Approximately 8 hours of additional weekly assignments
  • Participation at the GEC Forum

Catalyst Mentors and Speakers

View our full list of mentors and speakers.

Catalyst Summer Cohort 2023

Fenntec (DE) is developing an AI-based weeding system for autonomous robots to make organic food cheaper and to get rid of pesticides.

b.fab (DE) offers a new circular biomanufacturing platform for proteins and chemicals starting from CO2 and renewable energy.

vGreens (DE) develops fully automated and software-driven Indoor Vertical Farms enabling year-round sustainable fruit production near urban centers.

Keey Aerogel (FR) is a manufacturing company producing insulating aerogels derived from traditional silica containing waste material streams.

MESHLE (DE) is a professional provider of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, excelling in transforming traditional hardware products into smart, energy-efficient devices.

Mimicrete (GB) is implementing biomimetic self-healing concrete technologies and enabling a sustainable built environment.

TEGnology (DK) is providing innovative power supply solutions for electronic devices in difficult-to-reach places by converting heat into electricity. The solution is scalable for smart buildings and cities.

Svarmi (IS) helps energy, infrastructure, food, and beverage companies convert nature data into action. The software platform helps companies assess and track nature influence at the asset level, globally.

Smobya (EST) is redefining the toxic textile and leather industry with biofabricated plastic-free materials powered by microbes. They are building a more efficient cellulose manufacturing system by transforming food waste into high-quality circular materials.

Roundrack (GB) is helping brands source, adopt and integrate 'next-gen' sustainable materials into their supply chain and production line.

Fashion For Biodiversity (DE) is the first ever SpaceTech enabled blockchain startup, informing fashion industry to its real-time impact on earth's environment and biodiversity.

SCALE Advanced Composites (FR) creates new, bio-based materials that raise performance and lower cost while significantly cutting emissions to decarbonize the built world.

Zori Tex (GB) is optimising textile waste sorting – combining sensor and AI-powered technologies to drive circularity in fashion.

ESG Brands (US) converts agricultural waste from banana plantations into cotton-like fibers, while also producing clean and drinkable water as a valuable byproduct.

Re-fresh Global (DE/IL) produces thermoplastic materials (Re-SanPulp), bioethanol (Re-Thanol) and Nanocelluose (Re-Nano) from textile wastes by green processes and complete microfactory concepts for franchise.

Catalyst Alumni Feedback

"The mix of excellently taught entrepreneurial methods, group discussions with like-minded startups and investor presentations and Q&As helped us a lot to see our startup from new perspectives. This allowed us to rethink our focus and improve our strategy".
Steffen Gerlach
“The programme gave us great insights on how to achieve investor readiness level and helped us to understand the perspective from an investor point of view. Through the intensive exchange with the other participants twice a week, we got the trust to honestly deal with each other and saw ourselves growing”.
Friederike Pfeffer
"The Catalyst programme is unique and tailored for our needs. The mentor and ecosystem relevance, as well as being part of an intimate group of passionate material startups, was exceptional for us. Daniella and Greg's straightforward approach, combined with their broad and exceptional view, is worth mentioning".
Adi Goldman

Our mentors

Daniella Russo

Chief Innovation Officer

Daniella is also the CEO and Co-founder​ of Think Beyond™ Innovation Center.

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Dr. Greg Baxter

Chief Science Officer

Greg is also the CSO and Co-founder of Think​Beyond™ Innovation Center.

Katarzyna Dembska

Director Catalyst Programme