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28 academic innovators go head-to-head for £310k prize

Scotland’s largest company creation programme for the university sector has unveiled the 28 finalists who will compete for over £300,000 of equity-free funding and start-up support at an awards ceremony in Edinburgh in early November.

The fledgling businesses have been whittled down from more than 200 initial entries for the Converge 2022 competition. Finalists come from universities across the length and breadth of Scotland including the Highlands and Islands, the Northeast, Tayside and the Central Belt with projects spanning a diverse range of sectors from tech, robotics and sensors, through to the chemical industry, health care and engineering.

The finalists are competing for individual equity-free cash awards of up to £50,000, and in-kind business support from Converge’s network of professional partners which includes some of the country’s leading investors, lawyers, and business experts. 

In the early-stage, KickStart Challenge category, is Roma Gibb, a nursing student from the University of the Highlands and Islands. Her project, Person Centred Solutions, aims to help people who are bed bound and struggle with everyday tasks to sit comfortably and with greater freedom. 

Projects from the Converge Challenge, a category focused on novel solutions with solid IP and high commercial potential, include Danu Robotics headed up by Xiaoyan Ma from the University of Edinburgh which uses AI to tackle the global issue of contamination in recycling – a problem which results in millions of tonnes of waste being sent to landfill every year.

Also making the shortlist is Lightwater Sensors from the University of St Andrews. Founder, Dr Ross Gillanders, has invented a hand-held water monitoring system that meets the critical need for real-time water pollution detection.

The six finalists in the Converge Challenge category will also be invited to pitch their ideas live at an exclusive investors-only event at Scotland House in London next month. Organised in collaboration with Scottish Development International and featuring an address from Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, the event will enable UK wide investors to see the very best innovation and entrepreneurship emerging from Scotland’s universities.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, said: “Scotland’s world-class universities continue to be brilliant hotbeds of innovation and creativity, as exemplified by this year’s Converge finalist cohort.

The judges who reviewed this year’s cohort’s business plans believe that these emerging entrepreneurs are leading projects with real market potential and the power to strengthen our economy while creating a fairer future for all. The promise for all these 28 fledgling companies is huge, and the Converge team will be right behind them in championing their ground-breaking ideas.”

Three special awards will also be made on the night, including the Future Tech award, sponsored by Cisco, the Rose Award which recognises ambitious female entrepreneurs, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland and the IBioIC Award. This new award for 2022 is sponsored by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), and offers a package of support to one successful biotech project, including a free membership to IBioIC, a dedicated IBioIC account manager and £20,000 in project funding for the university where the project originated.

Full list of finalists:

Converge Challenge
Project NameUniversity
Danu RoboticsXiaoyan Ma Edinburgh
Eye to the FutureEmanuele TruccoDundee/Edinburgh
Lightwater SensorsRoss GillandersSt Andrews
PlusPEPRobert GoodfellowEdinburgh Napier
Theo HealthJodie SinclairDundee
X-Genix LtdRebecca GossSt Andrews
Create Change Challenge
Everybodycounts LtdAndrew RidgwayRobert Gordon
Boom PublicationsHelen GorrillDundee
LU Innovations LtdErin ReidEdinburgh Napier
MetacarpalFergal MackieStrathclyde
Set Ready SafetyLisa KellyGlasgow
Two RaccoonsLasse RasmussenAberdeen
Net Zero Challenge
AgrecalcKaia WaxenbergScotland’s Rural College
Bennu.aiJonathan Feldstein Edinburgh
Robocean LtdNiall McGrathEdinburgh
Zephyrus Aerolabs LtdChristopher SolomonAberdeen
KickStart Challenge
AirspectionMatthew McLean Strathclyde
Altra ERC LtdJack WalkerEdinburgh
Atomic ArchitectsAidan CampbellHeriot-Watt
Aura Benjamin NoarGlasgow School of Art
CoBAltRobin PflughauptDundee
Concinnity Genetics Jessica BirtEdinburgh
IncluNick FitzpatrickDundee
Mude Underwear Kat PohoreckaEdinburgh Napier
Person Centred SolutionsRoma GibbHighlands & Islands
SAMASTAR LtdAsma AbdullahEdinburgh
SensiBileSofia Ferreira-GonzalezEdinburgh
Vertical Forest CICKimia WitteGlasgow School of Art