Got a breakthrough business idea with serious potential?

The Converge Challenge is for novel business ideas with solid IP foundations, high commercial potential and scalability.

Register your interest

What’s in it for you?

If you’re looking to take the entrepreneurial leap from academia to business with your breakthrough innovation, then Converge Challenge is for you.


First prize

Winning our top prize will net you £50,000 in equity-free cash and £20,500 of in-kind business support from our industry partners towards turning your idea into a reality.


Runner-up prize

The runner-up will receive £20,000 in equity-free cash and £9,500 of in-kind business support from our industry partners to help get your business up and running.


Bespoke business training

All successful applicants enjoy a money-can’t-buy package of training and pitch coaching from experts with real-world experience of starting and growing global businesses.


Post-programme support

Dedicated events, workshops, access to the Converge Enterprise team and opportunities to get involved in future activities and publicity.

Who can apply?

The Converge Challenge is for high-calibre projects with the potential to become successful, sustainable companies that will have a positive impact in Scotland. We welcome applications across all industry sectors and enterprise types, for both product and service-based ideas.

Read our full terms and conditions

Staff and students at all Scottish Higher Education Institutions are eligible to apply.

Recent graduates (up to 36 months after graduation from the initial application date) from Scottish Higher Education Institutions are eligible to apply.

Team and joint applications are accepted, provided one member of the team is a student, recent graduate or member of staff from a Scottish Higher Education Institution.

Applicants must plan to have their business headquartered in Scotland.

The lead applicant must commit to attending the final investor pitches and our Awards ceremony. Our Inside Innovation showcase is also a compulsory event but can be attended by any team member.

We highly recommend you attend our training events as past experience shows these dramatically increase the quality of business plans/cases and your chances of reaching the final stages of the challenge.

You must either own or have the right to use and commercially exploit all Intellectual Property Rights related to your business idea.

Applicants need to demonstrate validation of their product/service, early customer engagement, a viable route to market and be ready to start operating within twelve months of our annual Awards in October.

If you do have an existing company, it must be dormant, non-trading or trading for no longer than 24 months with a secured income not higher than £150,000 (including but not limited to grants, investment, loans, revenue, prizes).

Judging criteria

Converge Challenge applications are judged on their growth and innovation potential. Successful applicants will be able to confidently demonstrate their prospective business’s competitive advantage, market potential, and expected team and resources. See the full list of criteria below:



  • Intellectual property
  • Disruptive potential
  • Competitive advantage

Growth potential

  • Market opportunity
  • Viable business model

Market validation

  • Customer engagement
  • Viable route to market
  • Market fit


  • Relevant experience
  • Planning for future team

Resource planning

  • Understanding of market readiness requirements including funding, expertise and operations

What’s involved?

Our challenges are split into four stages over a period of six months. Applications open in January and are evaluated by a panel of university representatives.

If you're successful, we'll give you access to our online, on-demand training modules from 9 May. You'll then be invited to attend a one day, in-person regional training session w/c 27 May followed by intensive business training and pitching in Edinburgh* from 3-5 June.

Having completed your training, you'll have the tools you need to prepare a business plan, financial forecast and 1-minute video pitch - all of which will be assessed by a panel of university representatives.

If you're shortlisted as a finalist, you'll be invited to attend further training w/c 9 September and to pitch your idea live to a panel of investors and business experts from 19-20 September. Winners will be announced at our annual Awards ceremony on 3 October.

*Travel expenses for in-person training and events are available. We can also cover overnight accommodation and childcare costs.

How it Works
  • Application deadline
    3 April 2024
  • In-person regional training
    w/c 27 May (1 day)
  • In-person training & pitch event
    3-5 June
  • Business plan submission
    31 July
  • Investment training
    9 September
  • Final pitches
    19-20 September
  • Awards
    3 October

Judging panel

Our judging panels are handpicked from across Scotland's business community for their unique experience and success in entrepreneurial and business ventures. Here's last year's panel to give you a flavour of who will be assessing your business idea.



Professor Andy Porter

Chief Technical Officer Elasmogen Ltd

Andy is the Director and Chief Technical Officer, Elasmogen Ltd. He is also currently Professor of Medical Biotechnology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland and Director of the Scottish Biologics Facility. He was founder and CSO of the University spin-out, Haptogen Ltd until it was acquired, in October 2007, by Wyeth Inc. Andy has been on the Board of the biologics company NovaBiotics Ltd since 2009.


Jordan Dargue

Jordan Dargue

Chief Executive Tees Valley Business Hub

Jordan is a senior business leader operating across the investment, finance and business growth landscape.  Jordan is also a mentor and advisory board member, helping start-ups, early-stage and high-growth businesses across the UK connect with the right investors and then supporting those businesses with commercialisation, marketing recruitment and retention to ensure the very best strategies are implemented to and grow and scale commercially.

Jordan has a track record across diverse business disciplines including talent and people, technology product development, marketing and sales and is well rehearsed in connecting major influencers, investors and other key ecosystems across the UK


Will Gibbs

Health Team Octopus Ventures

Will is part of the Health team at Octopus Ventures, the most active health investor in the UK. He also sits on the Board of a number of companies in areas such as Digital Therapeutics (QuitGenius), Consumer Health (Skin and me) and Biotech (OriBiotech). Will has been part of the Octopus team since 2013 and helped set up the team’s US office in 2016. Some of his research interests include psychedelics, cannabinoids, future of health insurance and digital therapeutics infrastructure.


Emmi Nicholl

Managing Director Cambridge Angels

Emmi has an educational background in Applied Linguistics, but her career path always led her into operations leadership roles. She has worked in finance, consulting and telecoms, across two continents, and has worked in a tech start-up as COO. This has given her the advantage of being familiar with the start-up journey. Emmi is the Managing Director of the angel investment group, Cambridge Angels. The group provides smart capital from entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs and helps to equip future generations of entrepreneurs by supporting innovative technology companies. Emmi’s role is to support Cambridge Angels’ reach by building networks to attract high quality investment opportunities.


Aydin Kurt-Elli

Independent board adviser, early-stage investor and entrepreneur

Aydin is a former medical doctor who trained in Edinburgh and went on to create and grow an Internet and Datacenter Services business.  The journey included exit to PE investor Bridgepoint, working as part of the new board on a buy and build strategy, and now investing and working with startups in Europe, the UK, and the US.



Find answers to your questions plus a sample copy of the application form you'll need to complete.

Sample Application Form


Here's a preview of the questions you'll need to answer

Click to view

FAQs 2024


Answers to some commonly-asked questions, to help you get started.

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Guide for Applicants 2024

Pre-Application Pack

Thinking about applying? This handy little pack explains what's involved and what to expect.

Click to view

Bellrock Technology

Case study

From a team of two, to a team of 20! Meet Adam Brown, our first ever Converge Challenge winner.

View case study


Case study

"Being my own boss is the most stable job I've had in years!" Read more about Caroline's entrepreneurial journey.

View case study

Dr. Lissa Herron

Enterprise Manager - East

Any Questions?
Just get in touch!