Converge welcomes academic innovation recovery
- Converge has seen applications rebound for its 2022 programme, with a marked growth in the diversity of applicants, including female and BAME founders
- Applications to the KickStart Challenge have also increased by a third from last year
- For the first time, finalists for the Converge Challenge will attend a judging session at Scotland House in London and meet with the local investor community
After closing its 2022 application process, Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation and enterprise programme for the university sector, has revealed that academic entrepreneurialism is showing signs of recovery following a number of challenging years.
The company creation programme has seen an increase in submissions with more than 200 applications received from all of Scotland’s universities – up 7% from last year. The programme will now see applicants attend in-depth training and judging sessions over the coming months, culminating in an awards ceremony in November where successful academic entrepreneurs will gain access to a funding pot of over £300,000 to advance their business ideas.
The diversity of applications is the highest in Converge’s 11-year history, with significant increases in submissions from women, the BAME community and people with a disability. Female applicants now account for more than a third (38%) of all applications – an increase of 15% on last year’s tally. Entries from the BAME community doubled year on year.
Converge’s enhanced KickStart Challenge – open to innovative early-stage ideas – makes up more than half of applications, contributing to the creation of a much-needed pipeline of high-growth businesses.
Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, said: “Seeing the academic community buzzing with brilliant business ideas with potential for commercial success is what drives me and the team. I am particularly encouraged to see more diversity in our applicants.
“This year, we have put a huge amount of effort into making our outreach activities as inclusive as possible, a strategy that has borne fruit as applications from female innovators have risen on last year. While we’re not quite there in terms of gender parity, hopefully this indicates that we’re on the right track.”
For the first time, Converge Challenge finalists will see their final ‘investor pitch’ take place at Scotland House in London in October. This will also include a networking event for investors based in London and the wider UK investment community.
Dr Cavalluzzo added: “Over the last decade, we have seen many of our alumni go on to generate international commercial interest, such as Current Health and Cyacomb. Success transcends borders and engaging with a broader investment community will contribute to extending the reach of Scotland’s academic innovation network.”
Converge is open to new and prospective businesses spun out of all Scotland’s universities and which will be operational in the 12 months following the awards ceremony on 3 November 2022.