*Converge Challenge will open for applications in March 2020*
The Converge Challenge is for new businesses that demonstrate protectable know how, high commercial potential and scalability.
First prize: £74,500 (£50,000 cash and £24,500 in-kind support)
Runner-up: £29,000 (£20,000 cash and £9,000 in-kind support)
All semi-finalists: Three days of intensive business training and bespoke business advice
All finalists: 12 months follow-on support from the Converge Team
The Converge category is open to a wide range of sectors, enterprise types and to both product and service-based ideas. Applicants must be able to provide evidence of product/service validation, customer engagement and route to market. The development stage of the product/service must also be sufficiently advanced to allow commercialisation within 12 months of the date of the Converge Challenge Awards (held annually in September).
To be eligible, all applicants must be either staff, students or recent graduates* of a Scottish Higher Education Institution.
* up to 24 months after graduation from the initial application date
You will be judged on:
- The clarity of your business proposal
- Competitive advantage (including Intellectual Rights position)
- Commercial potential
- Product/service validation
- Route to market
- Customer engagement
- Understanding of resources
The Converge Challenge External Judging Panel 2019 was drawn from across the business community, creating a diverse panel of experts who run, influence, evaluate, research and write about entrepreneurial and business ventures.
Co-Founder MBM Commercial and Converge Chairman
Sandy Finlayson has more than 25 years’ experience advising early-stage, high-growth companies and their investors and is a co-founder of MBM Commercial. He has been involved in numerous initiatives to support the funding of high- growth companies including: introducing the founders of Archangels; the formation of Seraphim Capital, the UK’s first Enterprise Capital Fund; and several other Enterprise Capital Funds as well as a number of other early-stage venture capital funds.
Director of Industry Engagement, University of Strathclyde
Dr Olga Kozlova is Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement
responsible for the enterprise, commercialisation, investment and industry engagement. Olga specialises in knowledge exchange between industry and academia. Her particular focus is on assisting commercial exploitation of innovative technologies. She started and ran a spin-out company and is experienced in running accelerators and delivering entrepreneurship training. Olga is the founder and former Director of Converge, the leading company creation programme for Scotland’s Universities.
Ian C Ritchie CBE
Ex-Chairman, iomart Group plc
Ian Ritchie is the non-executive Chairman of Tern plc, Computer Applications Service and Krotos. He also holds a board director position at Shotscope Ltd and was Chairman of iomart Group plc from 2008-2018. Ian founded OWL in 1984 which was later sold to Panasonic in 1989. He serves on the board of the National Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI).
Mary Jane Brouwers
Non Executive Director and Early-Stage Company Consultant
Mary Jane has worked in equity investments since 1997 when she joined the team that became Bank of Scotland Growth Equity, managing a portfolio of
Director and 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.
If your application is successful, you will be asked to:
- Attend a three day course of intensive business and pitch training
- Attend a full day business surgery with our network of partners
- Pitch live at our Elevator event
- Submit a business plan, financial forecast and 1-minute video pitch
Then, if you’re lucky enough to be shortlisted as a finalist, you will also be asked to:
- Attend an additional day of intensive business training
- Take part in a promotional film and photography shoot
- Pitch live to our judging panel
- Attend the Awards ceremony (held annually in September)
2019 Programme Dates:
Programme Launch – 14 March
Application Deadline – 25 April (12 noon)
Business Training – 10, 11, 12 June
Live Pitching at Elevator Event – 12 June (evening)
Business Plan Submission – 11 August
Business Training – 12 September
Live Pitching to Judging Panel – 20 September
Awards Final – 25 September