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Academic innovation shines through in Converge 2022 shortlist

Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation and enterprise programme for the university sector, has published its most innovative shortlist for the 2022 programme. 

Over 200 applications have been whittled down to 101 shortlisted projects across four ‘challenge’ categories – Converge, Create Change, Net Zero and KickStart, with all 18 Scottish universities represented in the final cut.

Sustainability, AI, and engineering are key themes that shine through from this year’s shortlist, as well as several health-related projects that could directly benefit social care, mobility, and chronic disease management. Projects with the potential for global impact include Converge Challenge semi-finalist, Podspectrix Ltd, a joint project from Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. Using AI to detect and prevent diabetic foot ulcers, one of the main causes of limb amputations in the UK, this project has the potential to reduce life-altering complications for patients, as well as reducing pressure on the NHS. 

Meanwhile, a Net Zero semi-finalist, SolSafe from Robert Gordon University, has developed a smart thermal battery, a green gamechanger for the energy industry as it can replace both fossil-fuel boilers and supplement heat-pump systems.

Projects in the Creative Industries are strongly represented this year including Storybuild, a semi-finalist in the Create Change category, developing a webapp to enable users to co-create literary works, making the writing process more interactive and less solitary. 

There have also been many ingenious and original ideas in the KickStart Challenge, an early-stage category designed to help academic entrepreneurs at the very first stages of the commercialisation journey. One project is Empatech, from Queen Margaret University, which is developing reusable wearable devices that simulate different physical impairments associated with neuro-disabilities.

The 2022 cohort is the most diverse in Converge’s 11-year history, with 24% of projects from the BAME community.  In addition, 10% of participants identify as disabled, as well as 42% non-British participants.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, said: “I am continually amazed by the high quality of innovation emerging from Scottish universities, and this year is no different. I believe that this will be one of the most competitive years to date. The diversity and inclusivity of this year’s shortlist is particularly encouraging, with more participants from the BAME community and those with disabilities making it into the cohort. While parity across all areas remains some way off from being achieved, our efforts to extend the appeal of Converge to a broader and more diverse audience is working.

“I am also particularly inspired to see more of the current university population coming forward with interesting and new concepts and projects to make a difference in the world that we live in. Collaboration and ideation within higher education have been undeniably challenged over recent years, however, as we welcome a high proportion of submissions from students this year, this trend has been bucked and is stronger than ever.”

Converge has also announced a new partnership with the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), one of Scotland’s seven innovation centres, which will award a package of support to one successful Biotech project. This includes a free membership to IBioIC, a dedicated IBioIC account manager and £20,000 in project funding for the university where the project originated.

Semi-finalists will now move on to attend in-depth training sessions over the coming months, culminating in an award ceremony on 3 November 2022, where the cream of this year’s projects vie for a slice of the £300,000+ prize pot to advance their businesses.

For the full list of semi-finalists, see below:

Converge Challenge:

Project NameUniversity
B05LabThasshwin MathanialAberdeen
CanCan DiagnosticsMaciej ParysEdinburgh
Danu RoboticsXiaoyan Ma Edinburgh
DeepQAThomas CartwrightEdinburgh
Eye to the FutureEmanuele TruccoDundee/Edinburgh
KaibaDaniele MariniStrathclyde
Lightwater SensorsRoss GillandersSt Andrews
MercelMark DorrisEdinburgh Napier
Morphic TechnologyJeremy VinerEdinburgh
NeogeniCoJames CantleyDundee
PlusPEPRobert GoodfellowEdinburgh Napier
Podspectrix LtdMarija VellaHeriot-Watt/Edinburgh
Prozymi BioLabs LtdIoannis StasinopoulosEdinburgh
QURECA Araceli Venegas-GomezStrathclyde
RHAPSEDAHelge DorfmuellerDundee
Rigpa LtdMike Xiaoyu HuangEdinburgh
SolOLEDTomas MatulaitisSt Andrews
Theo HealthJodie SinclairDundee
TrueDeployPavlos PapadopoulosEdinburgh Napier
X-Genix LtdRebecca GossSt Andrews

Create Change Challenge:

Argyle IT & Education NigeriaOpeyemi IbukunHeriot-Watt
Boom Publications Helen GorrillDundee
DELIRIANathalie NijkGlasgow School of Art
Everybodycounts LtdAndrew RidgwayRobert Gordon
Eyesight Electronics LtdAmin RigiEdinburgh
FussEatMorven SummersQueen Margaret
Help the Dog FlyMarta NegroEdinburgh Napier
I am DynamicClare DalyStrathclyde
Knit One LtdJeni Allison Glasgow School of Art
LU Innovations LtdErin ReidEdinburgh Napier
MetacarpalFergal MackieStrathclyde
Plantala LtdNatalia KerrRobert Gordon
Set Ready SafetyLisa KellyGlasgow
ShivohShivoh Chirayil NandakumarHeriot-Watt
SiodaAlexandra McKennaStirling
SmartbooksSimone JensenSt Andrews
STAT SALUS CICCameron CampbellStrathclyde
Storybuild LtdVinyet Miró PujadasRobert Gordon
The Grey HillBarry RobertsonRobert Gordon
Two RaccoonsLasse RasmussenAberdeen

Net Zero Challenge:

AgrecalcKaia WaxenbergScotland’s Rural College
Bennu.aiJonathan Feldstein Edinburgh
Field to FabricRosemary BristowHeriot-Watt
Robocean LtdNiall McGrathEdinburgh
ScrappEvan Gwynne DaviesHeriot-Watt
SolSafeAndrew McleodRobert Gordon
SymBIOsisJemma ReynoldsRobert Gordon
TWEFDA LtdJavier DominguezRobert Gordon
Water ElectronicsAmin RigiEdinburgh
Zephyrus Aerolabs LtdChristopher SolomonAberdeen

KickStart Challenge:

3D Scotland LtdMichael O’DonnellGlasgow School of Art
Abandoned ArtistsAlena Rogozhkina Stirling
AIMEL LtdYoucef AhmanacheRobert Gordon
AirspectionMatthew McLean Strathclyde
ArtsBridgeAlison WellsRoyal Conservatoire
Altra ERC LtdJack WalkerEdinburgh
AllSteadyRyan AndersonDundee
Amytis LtdEva SteeleEdinburgh
Atomic ArchitectsAidan CampbellHeriot-Watt
Aura Benjamin NoarGlasgow School of Art
Blue HouseLen De NysStirling
CereSolLouis MarieHeriot-Watt
CEXALMatteo CeseEdinburgh
CherryPIQJonathan BradyStrathclyde
CoBAltRobin PflughauptDundee
Concinnity Genetics Jessica BirtEdinburgh
Creative Foresight SolutionsFrank YntemaHeriot-Watt
Criterion RoboticsMarvin WrightStrathclyde Chamath PalihawadanaRobert Gordon
Education EvolvedMatthew LeeperGlasgow
EmpatechDuncan PentlandQueen Margaret
Femmortal Fitness CommunityHannah Blackburn-TurnerWest of Scotland
F-OXCameron FoyStirling
Happy LeafIain QuinnStrathclyde
Hidden Energy SolutionNikolas ColesStrathclyde
IncluNick FitzpatrickDundee
Intelligent Learning SolutionsDiane DuguidRobert Gordon
LocalizeMert ZorluGlasgow
LusanRachel PostEdinburgh
MediSightWojciech MistaGlasgow
Mude Underwear Kat PohoreckaEdinburgh Napier
NextChainGauthier CollasEdinburgh
Ocean PunksMaria Isabel Ayala GrageraRobert Gordon
Onboard IDKai Jun EerEdinburgh
Online TR@DMarie-Anne N’Guessan AssanvoStirling
Person Centred SolutionsRoma GibbHighlands & Islands
Ph.I.TSara MarshallQueen Margaret
Quas DrinksAnton PuzorjovEdinburgh
Royal HelixGizela BananaAberdeen
Scent No. MHua WangGlasgow
School LinkMoustapha DiabyAbertay
SAMASTAR LtdAsma AbdullahEdinburgh
SensiBileSofia Ferreira-GonzalezEdinburgh
Sensory SoulJoyce WattRobert Gordon
Steer AnalyticsAngela Lum-nehStirling
Student BubbleOlivia DovernorSt Andrews
TheFitGrip LtdStephen ArmitGlasgow Caledonian
Unitic LtdPrathamesh DeshmukhGlasgow Caledonian
Vertical Forest CICKimia WitteGlasgow School of Art
Vocema TechJane O’NeillHeriot-Watt
Werk OutGregor WeirGlasgow