2017 Converge Challengers revealed!

Innovative diabetes management, food waste digester & swimming aid products are amongst the companies vying for top entrepreneurial award

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 have revealed this year’s top 60 ‘Converge Challengers’. And there has been a leap in the number of female finalists which now account for 43% of the Challengers.

The three Converge Challenge award categories are:

  1. Converge Challenge - for those with an established idea
  2. KickStart - for early stage ideas
  3. Social Enterprise - for ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues

Business products or services, from any industry sector, at any stage are eligible. The Converge Challenge category is highly competitive this year with 9 industry sectors represented and business ideas including:

  1. Brain cancer diagnostics
  2. microalgal supplements for fishmeal, to supply the livestock feed industry
  3. the world’s first automated, small-scale food waste digester to generate biogas
  4. a new flotation aid for children learning to swim
  5. garden design toolkits for adults with dementia
  6. an online platform to help people self-manage diabetes
  7. 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.

Susanne said:

“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:-

  • A project which aims to make life easier for people self-managing chronic diseases.
  • An innovative bicycle storage solution which saves space
  • Personal wind turbine to generate power in remote locations
  • 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.

The Social Enterprise participants are focused on delivering their social missions, which include:

  • A social giving platform that allows homeless and low income individuals to create profiles and raise money for basic needs
  • A platform for the remote delivery and monitoring of personalised physiotherapy exercise programmes for people with long-term conditions

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 Ltd Glasgow Caledonian University
David Harris-Birtill Beyond Medics University of St Andrews
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 Ltd University of Edinburgh
Fiona Rudkin mycoBiologics University of Aberdeen
Peter Orrell MycoNourish James Hutton Institute
Deborah Wake MyWay 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 Ltd 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 Ltd 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:

KickStart Business University/Research Institute
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

Social Enterprise

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

The above is subject to change.

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