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Gender Gap Closing as Female Entrepreneurs Make Up Nearly Half of All Successful Entries to Converge 2019

  • Female entrepreneurs strongly represented in this year’s successful entries (49.1%)
  • Tech for the greater good is a growing trend
  • Semi-finalists now chase a place in the Converge final where a total prize fund of cash and in-kind support worth £230,000 awaits the winners this September

A human skin culture system that mimics human skin and replaces animal testing;  an interactive map to help blind and visually impaired people to navigate safely around train stations; and a flat-pack, solar collector offering affordable, clean energy for developing countries – these are just some of the trail-blazing ideas emerging from this year’s pool of Converge semi-finalists.

Around 60 aspiring entrepreneurs from across Scotland’s Universities are now through to the next stage of Converge, Scotland’s leading academic enterprise programme.  Semi-finalists will now be invited to attend three days of intensive, hands-on, business training which has been designed specifically to best prepare academic entrepreneurs in both start-up and spin-out companies. Nearly half of all semi-finalists this year are women entrepreneurs with Technology and Engineering and the Creative Industries some of the most represented sectors.

Tech for social good is an emerging trend with a large number of semi-finalists using technology to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges. This includes Dr Ali Abbassi Monjezi of Waterwhelm from the University of Edinburgh, who is tackling the global issue of water scarcity with a patent-pending technology that turns wastewater into freshwater while simultaneously generating electricity. With an estimated 2.1 billion people lacking access to clean water and the effects of climate change creating ever more water insecurity, Waterwhelm’s innovative technology could be a game changer.

Meanwhile, Converge is working to build Scotland’s pipeline of creative industries’ entrepreneurs with several innovative projects now through to the next stage.  This includes Robert Gordon University’s lecturer, Nicci Thompson, who is looking to disrupt the comic book industry, currently dominated by three US companies, with Untitled Comics, a pioneering digital publisher looking to showcase new and original content from creatives around the world.   

In addition to the bespoke business training, the cohort will receive one-to-one pitch coaching to help them master their ’60-second pitch’. Semi-finalists in the Converge Challenge category will also take part in ‘Ready, Steady, Pitch’ – a live pitching competition attended by investors, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, Converge alumni and members of Scotland’s business community on 12 June at the Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh. 

In the next phase of the programme, semi-finalists will submit a business plan with the very best ideas going forward to the Converge 2019 final at the V&A Dundee on 25 September.

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge comments;

“Converge thrives on ideas that are genuinely innovative and that have the ability to transform lives and this year our cohort has really pushed the boundaries with some truly ground-breaking projects.  Nearly half of our semi-finalists are also women, an encouraging trend particularly in light of the recent Rose Review that has shed light on the huge untapped potential of UK women in business.  

We are also seeing a growing trend towards ‘tech for social good’ with academic entrepreneurs harnessing the power of technology to create economic wealth while positively impacting our society and the environment. These pioneers are addressing some of the biggest global challenges of our time around water security, food production, pollution, climate change and healthcare in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. Dramatic change won’t be driven by traditional thinking so we need to mobilise our most entrepreneurial and creative minds to solve these problems and Converge provides the ideal platform to do this”

Meet our Converge Challenge semi-finalists:

Elijah NazarzadehAcu-FlowUniversity of Glasgow
Richard TaylorVector PhotonicsUniversity of Glasgow
Alasdair SykesAgRE CalcScotland’s Rural College (SRUC)
Alicja StankiewiczNi4 TechEdinburgh Napier University
Martina Zupan Alterwaste LtdEdinburgh Napier University
David White BGR Training LtdUniversity of Strathclyde
Ishani MalhotraCarcinotech LtdUniversity of Edinburgh
Lorenzo ContiCrover LtdUniversity of Edinburgh
Vincent MartinezDynevalUniversity of Edinburgh
Anji SandhuEmpowered EarthUniversity of Glasgow
James YoungEnergy3University of Edinburgh
Douglas LesterFertility GenomicsAbertay University
Helen HastieMIRIAMHeriot-Watt University
Andrew WoodlandIn4Derm University of Dundee
Iain MackieIX Tech Global Ltd University of Edinburgh
Renwick DrysdaleKilrieUniversity of Edinburgh
Daniel BrobyListings Ledger plcUniversity of Strathclyde
Emma JamesBeltfreeRobert Gordon University
Fiona RudkinmycoBiologicsUniversity of Aberdeen
Maiwenn Kersaudy-KerhoasNatantisHeriot-Watt University
Colin CampbellNectis LtdUniversity of Edinburgh
Waldimir Ramriez RomaniPortable Precision PlatingUniversity of Aberdeen
Marc ReidPre-Site SafetyUniversity of Strathclyde
Genevieve PatenaudeQuosientUniversity of Edinburgh
Martha MackenzieSeltza LtdGlasgow Caledonian University
Alice SmithSpeak:UniqueUniversity of Edinburgh
Stewart WarrenderStewart Warrender University of St Andrews
Heba LakanyTaharacUniversity of Strathclyde
Michael ConneelyTen Bio University of Dundee
Alireza Abbassi MonjeziWaterwhelm LtdUniversity of Edinburgh

Meet our Creative Challenge semi-finalists:

Marwa EbrahimAtypical Cosmetics LtdUniversity of Glasgow
Ana BetancourtBlack GoblinUniversity of Edinburgh
Ann LandmannCymera FestivalQueen Margaret University
Elizabeth JenkinsonElizabeth Jenkinson Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Robbie BeautymanForesight Interactions University of Dundee
Celine Garnier-KerriliBe Ltd Edinburgh Napier University
Charlotte McKechnieOpera Eos Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Lee TurnbullTurnbull Design Engineering LtdUniversity of Strathclyde
Martin CraigSculpture Placement Group Queen Margaret University
Pooja KataraSENSEcity Ltd Glasgow School of Art / University of Glasgow
Nicci ThompsonUntitled ComicsRobert Gordon University
Campbell ScanlanWaulkUniversity of Dundee

Meet our Impact Challenge semi-finalists:

Maija NygrenAlmaBorealisUniversity of Dundee
Maggie EllisAstellisUniversity of St Andrews
Saskia GoeresDesigned for Life LtdUniversity of Glasgow / Glasgow School of Art
Claire Ann BangaeMoodieUniversity of Edinburgh
Chunhui ZhangHearosUniversity of Edinburgh
Zahin RazeenHydroquo+University of Glasgow
Connie ReidKonglomerate GamesAbertay University
Gandit PichatwatanaMendet Eco MicroUniversity of Glasgow
Eadaoin McCormackMums Empowered Queen Margaret University
Kristan PapirioRise NutritionUniversity of Edinburgh
Sara Mair BellshawSlow Adventure University of the Highlands & Islands
Yanik Adam NybergSeawater Solutions LtdUniversity of Strathclyde
Aayush GoyalSocial Stories ClubUniversity of Edinburgh
Faisal GhaniSolarisKitHeriot-Watt University
Jake Elliott-HookYAIAQueen Margaret University