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Converge Announces 2020 Cohort

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June 9, 2020

Praise for Academic Community’s ‘indomitable Spirit’ despite Lockdown Fears as 2020 Converge Cohort is Announced

As the fight against Covid-19 reaches a crucial tipping point, Scotland’s academic community has rallied to create a host of transformational business ideas for Converge, Scotland’s premier company creation programme for the Higher Education sector, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary.

Despite the pandemic leading to the widespread closure of all Scotland’s universities and research institutes, a record number of applications were submitted to this year’s Converge programme, and whilst core project areas such technology, life sciences and renewable energy remain as strong as ever, innovation themed around Covid-19 is also represented.

These ideas sit amongst the 60 semi-final entries across the three ‘Challenge’ categories – Converge, Creative and Impact – which will move onto the next stage – intensive business and pitch training – later this month.

On the Covid-19 theme, a Converge Challenge submission, Loch Electronics, a business created by University of Strathclyde post-graduate student Franciso Carreno, has designed plans for a dishwasher that uses medical grade UV-C light to fully disinfect PPE facemasks in hospitals, helping to address supply shortage issues.

Elsewhere, the exceptionally high quality of all the Impact Challenge projects highlights the breadth and scope of innovation within a profound social or environmental context that sits within the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy Target Framework to have 50% of the nation’s energy consumption supplied by renewable resources by its 2030 target.

It includes Power To Go Hydro from Robert Gordon University. It plans to develop an inflatable waterwheel to generate clean, accessible and affordable electricity. The waterwheel design means it does not require any supporting structure or water channel to be built and is therefore better for the environment than other micro hydro systems.

Amongst the 30 entries within the Converge Challenge is Vennle, a University of Edinburgh start-up, which aims to commercialise  an AI-powered Big Data analytics system to forecast and optimise transport networks – starting with bike-sharing to accelerate smart cities and infrastructure. Vennle has partnered with the UK’s largest bike-sharing operator to demonstrate its novel Machine Learning model for bicycle redistribution.

This year’s Creative Challenge, which highlights innovation that demonstrate originality and creativity, provides 15 projects with a focus on new ways of helping to future-proof the arts, music and tourism in Scotland.

The ‘We Make Music Work’ music business from Queen Margaret University will establish opportunities to empower musicians to generate income using immersive Virtual Reality tools, whilst Cinedoche Screen Collective, from the University of St Andrews, develops and produces short features and documentaries  for platforms such as Netflix, Amazon-Prime, and YouTube.

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, director of Converge comments;

“Six months ago, no one knew that we would be in the midst of a pandemic that would have such a profound impact on all our lives. With university campuses closed, engaging with normal university life, let alone preparing an entry to Converge 2020, was challenging.

In the context of such a massive and unparalleled backdrop, imagine our delight that entries this year are at record levels.  Staff, students and researchers across our Higher Education Institutions have again demonstrated that, even in the face of upheaval, they continue to strive to unlock their potential to transform lives and improve society.”

This year, Converge Challenge semi-finalists will take part in ‘Inside Innovation’ – a new, virtual pitching event taking place on Tuesday 30 June as Claudia reveals;

“Each semi-finalist will have just 60 seconds to capture the attention of our investor-led panel of judges with a Best Pitch and Audience Choice prize up for grabs.  Another highlight of the evening will be the interview with serial tech entrepreneur, Lesley Eccles, co-Founder of fantasy sports platform, FanDuel, who recently launched Relish which promises to be the world’s first relationship training app.

Despite the restrictions of not all being in the one venue, we are making the most of this new way of engaging with the world where everybody, despite social distancing, has gotten a little closer.”

Before then, semi-final entrants undergo intensive online training to develop their business and hone their pitching skills. They will then be asked to submit a business case with the very best progressing to the Converge Awards final on Thursday 24th September.

Meet our Converge Challenge semi-finalists:

Name Business University
Desmond Gibson Albasense University of West of Scotland
Brian Quinn Aquaculture Health Laboratory University of West of Scotland
Serban Buliga Armila University of Glasgow
Ross O’Hanlon BioLiberty University of Edinburgh
Genevieve Patenaude EarthBlox University of Edinburgh
Ross Gillanders F-Sense University of St Andrews
Douglas Lester Fertility Genomics Abertay University
Sunil Sharma GenX University of St Andrews
Oriol Canela-Xandri Golem Analytics University of Edinburgh
Zachary Gold House of Votes University of Edinburgh
Steven Owens Huli (Beinn Bike Ltd) University of Strathclyde
Olufemi Johnson IntelliPalp Heriot-Watt University
Navneeta Katyan Inved University of Edinburgh
Lauren Stevenson LaurSKN Robert Gordon University
Barry Leaper LiberEat University of Aberdeen
Francisco Carreno Loch Electronics University of Strathclyde
Xavier Bellekens Lupovis University of Strathclyde
Mark Dorris Mercel Edinburgh Napier University
Stuart Hannah Microplate Dx University of Strathclyde
Paul Patras Net AI University of Edinburgh
Alexander McVey ŌGI Bio University of Edinburgh
Mo Tabib Relaxation Revolution Robert Gordon University
Theodoros Dounas Roubo Robert Gordon University
Stefan Lewis Scribbl University of Edinburgh
Luigi Manfredi Softech Robotics University of Dundee
Daniel Sutton University of Aberdeen
Robyn Hickerson Ten Bio University of Dundee
David Robertson Thistle Rocketry University of Edinburgh
Jack Noble Vennle University of Edinburgh

Meet our Creative Challenge semi-finalists:


Name Business University
Stephanie Pagulayan ALICE Theatre Project University of the Highlands and Islands
Maija Nygren AlmaBorealis University of Dundee
Barry Nisbet Barry Nisbet University of Highlands and Islands
Sanghita Sen Cinecdoche Screen Collective University of St Andrews
Matthew Aitchison Darkroom Interactive Abertay University
Josephine Adekola Josephine Adekola Glasgow Caledonian University
Lucy Fisher Knit It Robert Gordon University
Alexandre Colle Konpanion Heriot-Watt University
Robbie Macisaac MacIsaac Ltd University of Strathclyde
Jonathan O’Neill Make Your Own musicals Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Junaid Malik Plaatsen Glasgow School of Art
Martin Craig Sculpture Placement Group Queen Margaret University
Jodie Sinclair Theo University of Dundee
Keren McKean We Make Music Work Queen Margaret University
Elena Höge Yaldi Games University of Edinburgh

Meet our Impact Challenge semi-finalists:


Name Business University
David Rodriguez de la Cruz Algae Limited Edinburgh Napier University
Amol Deshmukh Amol University of Glasgow
Teresa Shutter Aquaponics Garden SRUC
Melanie van de Velde Butterfly Adventures University of Glasgow
Fraser Stewart  Connex Solar University of Strathclyde
Amin Rigi Eyesight Electronics University of Edinburgh
Robert Clunas  Farm Focus Robert Gordon University
Fiona Maclean Fiona Maclean Queen Margaret University
Kieran Duncan Mako Aerospace University of Strathclyde
Gandit Pichatwatana Mendet Eco Micro University of Glasgow
James Swinburne Metacarpal University of Strathclyde
Ken Morrow Power To Go Hydro Robert Gordon University
Yanik Adam Nyberg Seawater Solutions University of Strathclyde
Sara Mair Bellshaw Slow Adventure University of the Highlands & Islands
Stewart Massie Storical Robert Gordon University
Laura Higham Vet Sustain University of Edinburgh