Converge finalists demonstrate universities’ role in fulfilling national innovation strategy

This year’s finalists for Converge, Scotland’s springboard for university founders, are demonstrating that students, graduates, and academics sit at the heart of delivering the national innovation strategy.

Scotland’s national innovation strategy, which was published in June 2023, outlined four innovation themes in which the nation has a competitive advantage, spanning the energy transition, health and life sciences, data and digital technologies, and advanced manufacturing.

Nine of this year’s finalists are working across data and digital technologies including Infinect, a Heriot-Watt University spin-out developing reliable antenna technology for satellite communication ‘on the move’. 

Another nine are focused on health and life sciences and contain University of Edinburgh spin-out, Concinnity Genetics, which is developing new AI technology that helps reduce the side effects caused by gene therapy.

Six finalists are developing solutions as part of the energy transition, including Zephyrus Aerolabs, a University of Aberdeen company creating aerial emission monitoring technology to support the decarbonisation of the UK’s North Sea. 

A further two are making strides in advanced manufacturing, while the remaining two finalists are developing innovative ideas within food and drink.

As part of this year’s programme, finalists from the Converge Challenge category will have the opportunity to travel to London to present their business ideas to investors and business leaders who can help them on their investment journey. 

The winners and runners-up of all four challenges will be named at the Converge awards ceremony in Glasgow on 4 October. 

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Converge’s Executive Director, said: 

“Our finalists demonstrate that Scotland’s universities are at the forefront of developing innovations that will help people and the planet while growing our economy.

“We selected our cohort of 100 start-ups and spinouts from a record 247 applicants back in May, just as the national innovation strategy was being unveiled.

“That alignment between the strategy’s objectives and the innovative ideas developed by our students, graduates, and researchers demonstrates the importance of Scotland’s universities and research institutes when it comes to fulfilling our nation’s ambitious goals.”

The Scottish Government’s ten-year national innovation strategy aims to place Scotland among the world’s most innovative small nations, including Denmark, Finland, and Norway. The strategy highlights the importance of the innovation ecosystem and the collaboration between businesses, the public sector and universities.

Paul Atkinson, Founding Partner at venture capital investor Par Equity and Chair of Converge’s strategic advisory board, added: 

“Innovative universities are essential for an innovative nation to flourish, and this year’s Converge finalists demonstrate that Scotland’s students, graduates, and researchers have a key role to play in helping our nation achieve its goals.

“As a business angel and venture capitalist, these are the kinds of ideas that get investors like me excited – and the support and training that Converge offers to its cohort means that its participants are also developing the skills and abilities that investors want to see before they will sign any cheques.

“Congratulations and good luck to this year’s finalists – I can’t wait to see these companies flourishing in the future”

For full finalist details, see below:

Converge Challenge:

BrigID BioSoumya PalliyilAberdeen
Concinnity GeneticsJessica BirtEdinburgh
INFINECTSamuel RotenbergHeriot-Watt
NovatioNGeorgina RobinsonHighlands & Islands
TrueDeployPavlos PapadopoulosEdinburgh Napier
Singular Photonics Aravind JalajakumariEdinburgh

Create Change Challenge:

Fantasy Fibre MillRosemary BristowHeriot-Watt
Person Centred SolutionsRoma GibbHighlands & Islands
Screen HustlerFairouz DridiWest of Scotland
Two RacoonsLasse RasmussenAberdeen
Ujamaa SpiceRist Van de WeyerEdinburgh
WhimsylabsJoseph FrenchEdinburgh

Net Zero Challenge:

FireHorseAnna RenoufSRUC
RockitOleg IshkovHeriot-Watt
yaiLabDarius RomanHeriot-Watt
Zephyrus AerolabsChristopher SolomonAberdeen

KickStart Challenge:

4SB MobilityRory BoneGSA/Glasgow
AllSteadyRyan AndersonDundee
AMJ Tech ConsultantsGavin AdamsGlasgow
bobbllLeonardo ZussnerGlasgow
Books2LifeAisha KasimRobert Gordon
CEXALMatteo CeseEdinburgh
Excellio LabsKamila MalyszEdinburgh
GenProtexRicardo Moreno BallesterosDundee
GFibersAikaterini LalatsaStrathclyde
LastingAssetNanik RamchandaniEdinburgh Napier
Rescue WinchKeith WilcoxDundee
R-SimThomas MolonyGlasgow Caledonian