Converge Challenge 2017, Scotland’s leading company creation competition and entrepreneurial development programme for staff, students, and recent graduates of Scottish Universities and Research Institutes has revealed this year’s top 60 ‘Converge Challengers’.
The three Converge Challenge award categories are Converge Challenge – for those with an established idea, KickStart – for early stage ideas and Social Enterprise – for ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues.
The Converge Challenge category is highly competitive this year with nine industry sectors represented and business ideas including Brain cancer diagnostics, a new flotation aid for children learning to swim, garden design toolkits for adults with dementia and an alternative to popcorn.
New for 2017 is a partnership that will benefit the top 30 Converge Challenge Life Science and MedTech participants. A number of the participants will have the chance to take part in a MediCity bespoke 3-day programme of sector specific support between the end of June and the business plan submission deadline in August.
Commenting on the finalists, Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said:
“Every year the Converge Challenge competition gets stronger and this year looks like being the most competitive yet. Participants have put a lot of effort into describing their markets and customer interactions rather than focus on technology development. There is a strong ethical focus in many applications aiming to improve quality of life through innovations targeting 9 sectors of the Scottish Economy.
“The returning participants from 2016, emphasise the nurturing nature of the programme and our belief in supporting people as they develop their products and ideas. We look forward to seeing the Converge Challengers at our elevator pitch in June and wish them the best of luck as their entrepreneurial training and development begins.”
The 2017 Converge Challenge is already the most successful yet with 212 entries from 19 institutions, which have been shortlisted down to 60 finalists. The joint winner of Converge Challenge 2016, MindMate, led by Susanne Mitschke of University of Glasgow, has since had a great success with their assistance platform for people with dementia, their caregivers and family members.
“Our Converge prize has made a meaningful difference; not only from a cash-perspective, but from the in-kind business services we’ve received.”
The Converge Challenge team were particularly gratified to see 5 applicants who were in the KickStart category in 2016 moving through to the Top 30 in 2017 in the main Converge Challenge category. This shows that they have taken the learnings from the process back to their Higher Education Institutes and have built on them, developing their business propositions to a very high standard.
As early stage shortlisted projects the KickStarters will receive two days of invaluable business support training and are encouraged, like last years Converge winner MindMate, to take on the full Converge Challenge next year. This reflects the intensive support ethos which is at the heart of Converge Challenge.
The KickStart projects are also from a wide range of sectors and, like the Converge Challengers, have raised the bar in the quality and depth of their entries. Examples of competing business ideas include an innovative bicycle storage solution which saves space, a ersonal wind turbine to generate power in remote locations and a dyslexia screening device
The shortlisted Social Enterprise projects are businesses which have a social or environmental mission and are competing for a comprehensive package of benefits including cash prizes, in-kind business support prizes, entrepreneurial training, 1-2-1 mentorship, all geared to making them a successful, sustainable business.
Now in phase 2 of the process the 60 ‘Converge Challengers’ are set to take on an intensive entrepreneurial training and development programme, provided by Converge Challenge which culminates in the Ready, Steady, Pitch! event at the Royal Bank of Scotland Gogarburn specifically for the Converge Challenge category finalists on June 1st 2017. For those who reach phase 4, the overall programme prize fund at stake is £170,000 – a £20,000 increase on the 2016 prize fund – which includes a broad range of in-kind expert support and training provided through partners such as Murgitroyd, Morton Fraser, Mazars, and Morton Ward. Following an increase in applicants for both the KickStart and Social Enterprise award categories both prize funds were increased to £10,000 each encouraging entrepreneurship at every stage.
In March BiGGAR Economics published a report on the impact of Converge Challenge. Since its inception Converge Challenge has awarded prizes with a value of £663,000, with 56% awarded in cash, and 44% of in-kind support. Overall, £29.7 million of follow-on funding was secured by businesses based in Scotland and of this, £12.5 million can be directly attributed to the support provided through Converge Challenge. This means that every £1 funding invested by the Scottish Funding Council and universities in the Converge Challenge to date has enabled Scottish businesses to leverage a further £7.51 in funding.
Converge Challenge is the only higher education programme that is open to staff, students and recent graduates of all 19 Scottish universities and accepts applications for any product or service in any industry sector. Converge Challenge will announce the 2017 winners for each category at the annual awards ceremony on Thursday, 28 September 2017 at the Glasgow Science Centre, Glasgow.
Converge Challenge 2017
The full list of shortlisted projects are below:
|Converge Challenge||Business||University/Research Institute|
|Catherine Truel||Alegrant||Glasgow Caledonian University|
|David Harris-Birtill||Beyond Medics||University of St Andrews|
|Raimundo Gonzalez||Binaura VR||University of Edinburgh|
|Holly Butler||ClinSpec Dx||University of Strathclyde|
|Lissa Herron||Eggcellent Proteins||Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)|
|David Foley||Elemental Therapeutics||University of Dundee|
|Garry Boyle||HeadSpace Design||Heriot-Watt University|
|Luis Acevedo||BioTsptech||Edinburgh Napier University|
|Ifeyinwa Kanu||IntelliDigest||Heriot-Watt University|
|Andrew Herbert||Invizius||University of Edinburgh|
|Jan Mumme||CreChar Biocatalytic Carbon||University of Edinburgh|
|Ulviyya Rustamova||LIA||University of St Andrews|
|Sydney Chasin||lil'POP The Healthy Crop||Edinburgh Napier University|
|Douglas Martin||MiAlgae Ltd||University of Edinburgh|
|Salman Malik||MicroSpray Technologies||University of Edinburgh|
|Fiona Rudkin||mycoBiologics||University of Aberdeen|
|Peter Orrell||MycoNourish||James Hutton Institute|
|Deborah Wake||My Way Digital Health||University of Dundee|
|Paula Fox||Nixvis Ltd||University of Dundee|
|Dave Hughes||novosound||University of the West of Scotland|
|Jordan Smith||Oddity Innovations||Glasgow School of Art|
|Tomasz Sadowski||Opinew||University of Glasgow|
|Christopher Brown||ParaFormance||University of St Andrews|
|Alabi Rotimi||RAB-Microfluidics||University of Aberdeen|
|Philip McParlane||Scoop Analytics Ltd||University of Glasgow|
|Des Gibson||SpectralSense||University of the West of Scotland|
|Corien Staels||Staels Design||University of Glasgow|
|Jos Finer||SUMAC (Data Management for mentoring and coaching)||University of St Andrews|
|Michael Harkins||Turtle Pack||Heriot-Watt University|
|Brian Miller||uFraction8||Heriot-Watt University|
The full list of shortlisted projects are below:
|Cameron Harvey||3cycle||Glasgow School of Art|
|Timothy Elizondo||Attis Fitness Ltd||University of Strathclyde|
|Fiona Denison||Birth Mirror||University of Edinburgh|
|Samuel Rogers||Braw Power Ltd||University of Strathclyde|
|Emily Breen||Brush Buddy||Glasgow School of Art|
|Ieva Vasiljeva||ChillPill Health||Heriot-Watt University|
|Aaron Sarginson||Danderdee||University of the West of Scotland|
|Leon Franzen||DysLexiMeter||University of Glasgow|
|Saemundur Haraldsson||Easy ADvanced Systems||University of Stirling|
|Carolina Mateo-Segura||InfiNect||Heriot-Watt University|
|Liam McMorrow||Insulin PenPal||University of Aberdeen|
|Muhammad Arslan Khalid||mobiDx||University of Glasgow|
|Ryan Murdoch||LUCID (Learning Using Computer Interface Design)||Glasgow of School of Art|
|Maiwenn Kersudy-Kerhoas||Natantis||Heriot-Watt University|
|Richard McAdam||McAdam Technology||Edinburgh Napier University|
|Robert Coultous||Parasites, Ponies and Plastic Chips||University of Glasgow|
|Juan Pablo Echenique||Power Enable Solutions||University of Edinburgh|
|Rachel Parker||Rachel's Gluten Free||University of the Highlands & Islands|
|Vikash Kumar||Research Journal||Queen Margaret University|
|Brian Hamilton||Roomerical||University of Edinburgh|
|Carmen Cummiskey||Teqnox Limited||University of Strathclyde|
|David Porteous||The Bicycle Security Company||Robert Gordon University|
|Ken Brookshank||ThermoDrone||University of Strathclyde|
|Ruth McLaren||U-turn||University of Strathclyde|
The full list of shortlisted projects are below:
|Social Enterprise||Business||University/Research Institute|
|Callum MacKinnon||Forth Valley Rebound Therapy Service CIC||Glasgow Caledonian University|
|Alice Horton||Open Ears||University of Dundee|
|Lily Asch||Real Talk||University of Edinburgh|
|Johnny Watson||StreetChange||Heriot-Watt University|
|Lorna Paul||Web-based Physiotherapy||Glasgow Caledonian University|
|Pam Ramsay||critialcarerecovery.com||Edinburgh Napier University|
|Kirsty Deacon||Community Cafe||University of Glasgow|
|Barbara Mills||Anoch Ltd||University of Strathclyde|
|Rana Abu-Mounes||Al-Mushkah||University of Aberdeen|