• Happy Birthday to….us
    Happy Birthday to….us
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    Today we passed a significant milestone – it is our 5th birthday.

    That means 5 years of some of the most fascinating local development projects across Europe and most recently in the Caribbean too.

    Although we have majored on evaluation, from equality impact assessment to fisheries programme evaluation, that is far from our “sole” focus. Some of our biggest projects have been in innovation strategy for the University sector and for regions and Rural Development programme development.

    We have met some great people along the way, many of whom we continue to work with today. Indeed amongst our 44 projects undertaken to date, the majority are repeat business. When a client gets to know us they like us!

    Which causes us to reflect – what has been the secret of our success? Well firstly, we know, although the work we do requires specialist technical expertise; it is first and foremost a people business. This means having the right people in the Catalys teams to face the client. It also means understanding the client and what they need and what they can do. We work hard on this, and think it is part of the reason that people like us.

    We would like to sign off our birthday message with a big thank you to all those who have shown faith in us and our message building capacity for local development through building the capacity of people.

    Those repeat clients – Slow Food, UNDP, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, University of Wolverhampton, Belgrade Open School and Cornwall, Ceredigion and Dumfries and Galloway Councils.

    We have worked with some great associates whose skills and capabilities have added immeasurably to the Catalys family, particularly, Arwel, Dylan, Alex, Jo, Stephen, Carol, Blanca, Sanela, Jasmina, Amela, Nikola, Ivana and Tajana.

    Special mention also to Good2Great, NRM Interface and Alpha Design and Marketing who have all assisted us in our development.

    Looking forward, this is no time to rest on our laurels. The future of local development is uncertain, particularly in the UK in the light of Brexit. What is certain is that innovation for local development will continue to be needed by communities across the territories where we work, what is less certain is how this will work in future. We will continue to be available to our clients and engaged in the policy debates that matter, so that we stay relevant and accessible and help to develop approaches to local development that work.

    Thank you to you all.

    Nuala, Ian, Alex, Mary and Callum.

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  • Catalys nets another Fisheries evaluation
    Catalys nets another Fisheries evaluation
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    We are delighted to announce that Catalys has today been appointed to carry out the evaluation of the Gwynedd and Anglesey Fisheries Local Action Group.

    The aim of the Anglesey and Gwynedd Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) is to support the fishing industry and associated communities in both counties through the delivery of a range of actions and activities. The FLAG is representative of the sectors it supports and has encouraged a bottom up approach in order to develop viable and sustainable projects.

    The FLAG for Anglesey and Gwynedd has aimed to contribute towards achieving this aim by pursuing the following objectives:

    • Adding value to fishery products
    • Encouraging diversification of economic activity
    • Preserving and enhancing the environmental, cultural and social welfare
    • Empowering the local fishing communities.

    Catalys will assess the degree of success to which these aims have been achieved, through an approach that will combine a thorough review of the Group’s processes and projects, along with a programme of engagement with fishermen, coastal communities and others who are involved with the fishery sector and the wider economy.

    The end result will be to provide an assessment of the value which the group has added to Gwynedd and Anglesey’s fishing and coastal communities which will be delivered to the FLAG along with suggestions for the group to consider as they consider their future activities.

    Catalys’ growing experience in this area has previously seen them provide an evaluation of the Cardigan Bay Fisheries Group, strategy support to Dumfries and Galloway, as well as the model for implementation of FLAGs in Croatia.  Our bilingual team for this commission consists of experienced fisheries and evaluation professionals.

    For further information please contact:



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  • 3rd Catalys LEADER & Local Development Summer School – Zadar Croatia
    3rd Catalys LEADER & Local Development Summer School – Zadar Croatia
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    The Catalys LEADER and Local Development Summer School will now take place at a date later in the year.  The course has proved popular with partners and we now have two new partners:

    European Education Forum – will support the programme through the Europe for Citizens Programme, which encourages citizens’ participation in the European Union, by developing understanding of the Union and promoting intercultural engagement at the Union level.

    EDIC (Zadar) – is the European Information Centre in Zadar which provides information about the European Union, its policies and opportunities and promotes civic engagement.

    We are delighted to inform colleagues that the partnership supporting the summer school has grown to include two new partners.  However, the process of bringing new partners into the course and reflecting their ideas will take a little time.  This means that we cannot run the summer school at the planned time in September and will now look for a mutually acceptable time later in the year.  We will be in touch with all those who have made bookings and participants will be offered places at the later course.

    The summer school is also supported by the LEADER Network of Croatia (LMH), Ministry of Agriculture and the Rural Business School (UK).



    This year the summer school will embrace the Community Led Local Development (CLLD) theme alongside LEADER with the principles having moved from theory to practice for the first time.  We will look at early practice and we will have case studies, films and plenty of discussion, as well as good dalmatian cuisine.

    The 2015 Summer School theme is ENERGY; both how to harness the energy of communities and how communities can provide for their own energy needs.  Rural Communities have many of the solutions to the challenges they face, the only thing they lack is an impetus to develop and a structure to do it within.  The EU’s LEADER and CLLD programmes offer both of these things, however the job of stimulating a community’s energies is subtle and skilled – it is called ANIMATION.  For this reason LEADER and CLLD employ ANIMATEURS, not to be the source of all wisdom, but to stimulate and animate sustainable development.

    The summer school will look at these skills and look at best practice examples of them being applied.

    What can you expect – The Summer School is open and informative, the programme includes discussions, video clips, case studies, practical examples and plenty of opportunity for informal engagement with colleagues and experts.  In addition to the formal programme, participants will also be provided with links, information sources and learning materials.  The summer school will be delivered in English and Croatian and will be facilitated by Ivana Laginja and Ian Baker.

    The sign up form is here.

    The Programme is here

    Who is it for:   Public, private and NGO sectors involved in rural and local development and in particular those engaged with the LEADER programme from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and neighbouring countries.

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  • Catalys Summer School – 2014 evaluation – The results are in!
    Catalys Summer School – 2014 evaluation – The results are in!
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    The results are in!  The 2014 Summer School had Excellent approval ratings of 80 – 90%!

    The independent evaluation of the 2014 summer school was undertaken through Survey Monkey and is now complete.

    Participants were asked a series of questions via online survey and responses were collected that represented over 60% of the participants.

    In overview, most people strongly agreed or agreed attendance was both positive and useful and that they took much useful information back to their workplaces.

    Participants also felt there were some areas where they wanted more information and they wanted more discussion time.  Several ideas were given for extra topics, including, rural tourism, green policies and practice, local development funding and more detail on policy and implementation for 2014-20.

    The strongest rating however was given in answer to the question whether another course would be welcomed, with 89% strongly agreeing or agreeing with this suggestion.

    Location was also discussed and 88% of respondents wanted to see the next course to take place on the mainland.

    The 2015 Summer School will therefore be organised in response to these findings and is due to take place in Zadar in on 2nd 3rd July 2015.

    We hope to see you there!

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  • Putting Energy into Bosnia’s Drive for Energy Efficiency
    Putting Energy into Bosnia’s Drive for Energy Efficiency
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    Catalys has just completed the successful facilitation of a €3.6m proposal for Horizon 2020 funding support in Energy Efficiency. Catalys worked in partnership with the International BURCH University; Sarajevo to establish a broad based Public Private Partnership spanning 6 countries from Denmark to Turkey. The project focused on the development of Near Zero Energy Buildings and was developed using novel workshop techniques that accelerated the process of project development. Horizon 2020 is one of the most important EU funding regimes. Its significance is greater than simply the money that is made available, as a successful Horizon 2020 project can open doors to wider opportunities and is also an indicator of maturity and prestige amongst research organisations. This particular strand of Horizon 2020 support is designed to stimulate cooperation between Research bodies and businesses, in order to promote market access and job creation. Horizon 2020 is of great significance to the European Commission and EU Member States, as Research & Development and Innovation are key to the EU’s future growth and jobs strategy. It is also important to emerging states/economies such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, because the development of the research base will lead to better and higher value jobs; as well as providing the foundations for improved economic circumstances for the country as a whole.

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  • Local Development & LEADER Summer School – Croatia ’15
    Local Development & LEADER Summer School – Croatia ’15
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    Local Development Summer school agenda

    Catalys is pleased to announce the 2015 local development summer school.

    The topics we intend to cover include:

    • Community Led Local Development in Rural Development Programme
    • Community Energy – practical experience
    • Writing Local Development Strategies – practical experience and workshops
    • Options for small farmers – including Community Supported Agriculture
    • Fisheries and Local Development – the new FLAG programme
    • Fisheries Local Action Groups and LEADER groups working together
    • Implementation of LEADER measures in Croatia in 2015 and beyond
    • Practical experience of implementing Local Development – in Croatia and beyond – lessons learnt
    • Using the LEADER to support transnational projects and initiatives

    In response to the evaluation of the 2014 programme, we plan to hold the event earlier in the year and on the mainland. Therefore this year’s event will be held at:

    • IMPACT Centre Zadar – 2-3rd July

    The detailed agenda will be announced over the next month, in the meantime, we would welcome your response to the following questions about the seminar.

    1. The summer school can cover a number of topics and we will arrange the agenda according to the interests expressed by participants. The following topics are suggested based on previous experience and initial views expressed by possible contributors:

    Please rate the suggested topics 1-5, where 1 is very interested and 5 is not interested at all.

    • Community Led Local Development in Rural Development Programme
    • Community Energy – practical experience
    • Writing Local Development Strategies – practical experience and workshops
    • Options for small farmers – including Community Supported Agriculture
    • Fisheries and Local Development – the new FLAG programme
    • Fisheries Local Action Groups and LEADER groups working together
    • Implementation of LEADER measures in Croatia in 2015 and beyond
    • Practical experience of implementing Local Development – in Croatia and beyond – lessons learnt
    • Using the LEADER to support transnational projects and initiatives

    2. Do you have any alternative/additional suggestions?

    Please respond via this Survey Monkey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JKMSWMD

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  • Local Development Travel Bursary
    Local Development Travel Bursary
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    Catalys is pleased to announce our first travel bursary.

    The bursary will be offered to a young person from Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia or Montenegro who is involved in local action group or rural/agricultural association and is keen to learn from people and groups in other countries about their experiences in implementing Local Development Programmes.

    Purpose – It is intended to support a young person who is active in rural development and participates in their Local Action Group, on order to undertake a learning journey between April and June 2015.

    Procedure – the procedure is very simple. Applications should be made in the form of a succinct word document. In no more than 500 words you should state:

    • The overall purpose of your learning journey
    • What do you hope to learn
    • How would your Local Action Group benefit from your journey

    Additional information

    • Destination(s) you plan to visit (which organisations you plan to visit, and location(s))
    • Approximate timings for the visit
    • Proof of your age – you should be under 30 at the time of the application.

    Your commitment

    • You should plan a visit to explore ideas of real value to your Local Action Group
    • You should produce a succinct report in English and in Croatian on your experiences and lessons

    Our commitment

    • We will mentor you through the visit
    • We will pay you a bursary of €500 towards your travel and accommodation


    Applications by 7th April

    Award made by 10th April

    Learning journey to be taken between 10th April and 15th June

    Report to be submitted by 20th June

    Presentation at Local Development Summer School Zadar – 2nd and 3rd July.

    Applications should be submitted to: info@catalys.org

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  • Catalys starts evaluation of Rural Community Action Programme – Village SOS
    Catalys starts evaluation of Rural Community Action Programme – Village SOS
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    Today we commence the evaluation of the Village SOS programme.  This programme which covers Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England offers support to communities who wish to use social enterprise and other types of community businesses to sustain services and provide new opportunities in rural communities.

    VSOS wordcloud

    Village SOS is supported by Big Lottery Fund and is intended to inspire rural revival through development of community businesses that will breathe new life into their areas and create jobs.  It is delivered by a partnership that is led by Action for Communities in Rural England – ACRE.

    The programme offers tools, support and expert guidance are on offer to help communities take a step towards starting their own businesses and guide them through the journey from their initial idea to transforming the area.

    If you have any thoughts or contributions that could help us in our evaluation work, we would be very interested to hear from you.

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  • Rural Development Programme for Bosnian Rural Development
    Rural Development Programme for Bosnian Rural Development
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    For anyone who has been responsible for the establishment of a Rural Development Programme knows, it is a major undertaking to get all the necessary components together, especially if it’s the first time for the team concerned.  After a year’s hard work with the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina, we are now nearly at that point.

    IMG_2770I think the mood at the final project meeting speaks for itself. It has been a genuine pleasure working with the Bosnian Federation Ministry of Agriculture to develop their Rural Development Programme. An investment framework that will enable the Federation to engage with communities and investors to create a better future for Bosnian farmers and rural citizens.

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  • New Catalys website
    New Catalys website
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    Website screen grab

    Welcome to the new Catalys website.

    It has seemed like an elephantine gestation period, but our new website at www.catalys.org is finally up and running. It looks great and has updated our teams, our projects and our image.

    Website screen grab

    We decided to do it in house and Alex has taken the lead, including our first infographic – the Catalys wheel, which highlights the importance of stakeholders in our work. More anon.

    So, please feel free to explore the new site, done on a wordpress blog format it is much simpler for all our team to contribute, making it more of a joint effort.

    Any comments, please let us know via the contact form, or email info@catalys.org

    Happy Browsing!

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