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.

£50k

First prize

Winning our top prize will net you £50k in equity-free cash and £19,750 of in-kind business support from our industry partners towards turning your idea into a reality.

£20k

Runner-up prize

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

Training

Bespoke business training

All successful applicants enjoy intensive business training and pitch coaching tailored for academic entrepreneurs from leading trainers.

Plus

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 *24 months after graduation from the initial application date) from Scottish Higher Education Institutions are also eligible to apply.

*If you can demonstrate that your project has been delayed by Covid-19, we may consider applicants who have graduated within 36 months. Talk to our Enterprise team if you think this applies to you.

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 attend the final investor pitches and our awards ceremony. The Inside Innovation showcase event is also compulsory but can be attended by any team member. We highly recommend you attend our training events too, as past experience has shown these dramatically increase the quality of business plans/cases and the chances of reaching the next stage 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.

This challenge is aimed at new or prospective businesses that are ready to start operating within twelve months of our annual Converge Awards in November.

Applicants need to demonstrate validation of their product/service, early customer engagement and a viable route to market.

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:

challenge_converge_judging

Innovation

  • Intellectual property
  • Disruptive potential
  • Competitive advantage

Growth potential

  • Market opportunity
  • Viable business model

Market validation

  • Customer engagement
  • Viable route to market
  • Market fit

Team

  • 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 eight months. Applications open in January and these are evaluated by a panel of university representatives.

Successful applicants are invited to attend the Converge entrepreneurial training programme (6-10 and 21-23 June) that prepares them to put forward a business plan, financial forecast and 1-minute video pitch to be assessed by a panel of university representatives.

Shortlisted finalists then receive additional training (12 & 26 September) and pitch their idea live to a panel of investors and business experts on 13-14 October, with the winners announced at our annual Converge Awards ceremony on 3 November.

 

How it Works
  • Application Deadline
    5 April
  • Business Training
    6-10 June & 21-23 June
  • Inside Innovation Pitching Event
    23 June
  • Business Plan Submission
    1 August
  • Additional Training
    12 & 26 September
  • Final Pitches
    13-14 October
  • Awards Event
    3 November

Judging panel

Members of our diverse judging panel are handpicked from across the business community in Scotland for their unique experience and success in entrepreneurial and business ventures.

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.

 

Gillian Fleming

Founding Director & CEO Mint Ventures Ltd

Gillian is a Commercial Strategist and Board advisor to start-up and spin-out companies with 20 years’ experience in the entrepreneurial ecosystem specialising in technology commercialisation and investment strategy covering energy, oil and gas, infrastructure, engineering including digital imaging and sensor technology, life sciences, healthcare and food & drink.

Gillian has several board positions and is currently a Founding Director and CEO of Mint Ventures (Syndicate) Ltd, a new syndicate focused on women led angel investing and represents Kero Developments Ltd in Scotland, a VC that invests in early stage engineering related spinout and start-up companies.

She is also Entrepreneurial Scotland Saltire Fellow, a voluntary mentor for Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) and an active angel investor.

 

Andrew Noble

Partner Par Equity

Andrew is a former management consultant with McKinsey & Co, specialising in sales optimisation for FTSE 100 clients, before rejoining Par Equity in May 2019.

Andrew has broad experience across the early stage venture capital and private equity markets having personally invested in more than 30 innovative, high growth companies over the last 10 years as well as founding Transition Capital - a management buy-in vehicle focused on Scotland - in 2017, where he was managing director, leading the deal sourcing, due diligence, and fundraising efforts. 

Andrew is a former athlete, having competed for TeamGB in Alpine Skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and holds an MBA from INSEAD Business School.

 

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

 

Alasdair Greig

Director Northstar Ventures

Alasdair is a Director of Northstar Ventures, a venture capital firm that is focused on backing mission-driven founders targeting high growth markets in Healthy Ageing, the Future of Work and Learning, the Future of Place and Climate Tech. 

Alasdair is primarily responsible for Northstar’s investment and fundraising strategy.  He has worked with the founding teams of several successful technology companies including Zerolight, Pulsic, Caspian and Palringo.  Prior to Northstar, Alasdair was an Investment Director at The Cambridge Gateway Fund, an early stage technology and life sciences fund, based in Cambridge, UK. Before moving into venture capital, Alasdair worked in credit risk management for a number of global financial institutions, including Mitsubishi Bank and CIBC World Markets. 

 

Resources

Learn more about taking the leap from academia to entrepreneurship, boost your business skills and find resources to help you polish and perfect your challenge application.

Converge Application Form 2022

Downloadable file

Here's a preview of the application form you'll need to complete online.

Download now

FAQs 2022

Downloadable file

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

Download now

Guide for Applicants

Pre-Application Pack

Thinking about applying? This handy little pack summarises everything you need to know and even gives examples of previous, winning applications to help you take the leap.

Download now

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

Elasmogen

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

Lissa Herron

Enterprise Manager

Any Questions?
Contact the team...