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KickStart 2020 Finalists Unveiled

Ten nascent ideas from universities across Scotland are through to the finals of the 2020 KickStart Challenge, an early-stage entrepreneurial development programme sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland. Finalists will now make their case by pitching live at a special event hosted at The Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters in Gogarburn this Wednesday.

Many of this year’s finalists are addressing societal issues, at a time when ‘platforms’ like the climate emergency and significant health challenges continue to dominate the global agenda.

These themes and others such as enabling technologies are well represented across this year’s cohort, as they set their sights on being crowned winners of the 2020 Converge Kickstart Challenge and with it, a first prize of £10,000, with a runner-up prize of £5,000 also up for grabs.

Amongst this year’s finalists, cleantech is a notable theme with Connex Solar, a company created by Bartosz Soltowski from the University of Strathclyde. Connex Solar has designed a smart controller system called Energy Box that interconnects off-grid Solar Home Systems to help peer-to-peer electricity sharing.  Mercel, developed by Mark Dorris at Edinburgh Napier University, is striving to offer ways of switching from a dependency on fossil fuels to a sustainable seaweed resource. This will significantly reduce energy consumption involved with the production of pharmaceutical and personal care products to create a complete zero waste manufacturing cycle.

F-Sense, led by Ross Gillanders from the University of St Andrews, is looking at low-cost, real-time pesticide sensing in water using a portable networkable optical platform. This is designed to deal with the significant issue of pesticide contamination of drinking water which continues to be a pressing global issue, particularly in third world countries, whilst in a similar vein, the Aquaculture Health Laboratory, run by Brian Quinn from The University of West of Scotland, is developing rapid diagnostic techniques to enhance fish healthcare and increase productivity in Scottish salmonid aquaculture.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, is delighted with the scope and variety of this year’s entrant.

“From the submissions we received this year, it was heartening to find so many that were ‘on message’ with their ability to look closely at addressing some of the global issues that impact on all of us. It again brings into sharp focus that our Kickstart cohort remain ahead of the curve in exploring new ways of taking these challenges to a new level of innovation and creativity.

Every University in Scotland remains strongly committed to developing entrepreneurship, helping to crystallise these early-stage business ideas and contributing to Scotland’s economy. We thank them for their continued support and for being great ambassadors for the Converge programme.”

Brian QuinnAquaculture Health LaboratoryUniversity of the West of
Black GoblinUniversity of Edinburgh
Sean FisherBombinaThe Glasgow School of
Connex SolarUniversity of Strathclyde
Amin RigiEyesight Electronics LtdUniversity of Edinburgh
Foresight InteractionsUniversity of Dundee
Mark DorrisMercelEdinburgh Napier
F-SenseUniversity of St. Andrews
SiMologicsUniversity of Strathclyde
SmartScrollUniversity of Edinburgh