Are you an innovator looking to use your creativity as a tool for change?

The Create Change Challenge is for creative projects with a social purpose or social projects with a creative edge.

Register your interest

What's in it for you?

The Create Change Challenge can be your springboard to success with equity-free cash prizes and bespoke training with a sharp focus on creative and social business needs. At the end of the programme, you will have gained the skills, confidence and network to make your idea a reality.

We welcome applications for both product and service-based ideas with the potential to develop into sustainable businesses that deliver either creative, cultural or social impact.

£30k

First prize

Winning our top prize will get you £30k in equity-free cash and £10,250 of in-kind business support from our industry partners towards turning your idea into a reality.

2x £10k

Runner-up prizes

Two runners-up will each receive £10k in equity-free cash and £4,250 of in-kind business support.

Training

Bespoke 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 creative and social businesses.

Plus

Post-programme support

Once you’ve been accepted onto our programme, your journey doesn’t end there. As a Converge alumnus, we continue to provide you with access to our network of investors and advisors, business support and publicity and promotion.

Who can apply?

This is a broad category for social shakers and creative thinkers looking to change the world for the better. Whether it’s a technical solution tackling mental health issues or a new cultural or educational tool bringing people together - and everything in between - then you’ve come to the right place. 

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 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

We’re looking for creative ideas with creative, cultural or social impact that are grounded in sound market research and planning. Check out the full criteria below:

Innovation

  • Unique selling point
  • Competitive advantage
  • Imagination and creativity

Impact

  • Potential for long term financial sustainability and growth

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, operations and logistics

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 (13-23 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 September) and pitch their idea live to a panel of investors and experts on 11 October, with the winners announced at our annual Converge Awards ceremony on 3 November.

How it works
  • Application Deadline
    5 April
  • Business Training
    13 - 23 June
  • Inside Innovation Pitching Event
    23 June
  • Business Plan Submission
    1 August
  • Additional Training
    12 September
  • Final Pitches
    11 October
  • Awards Event
    3 November

Judging panel

Our expert judging panel is selected for their depth and breadth of entrepreneurial and business experience across Scotland’s creative industries and social impact sector.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne

Founder Genius Foods Ltd

Founder, Genius Gluten Free

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne is Founder of Genius Gluten Free, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at Edinburgh University. In 2018, she was included in the Maserati Top 100 Innovators and in the top 100 Women to Watch by Cranfield University.

 

Nick Kuenssberg OBE

Chair of the Board Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Nick Kuenssberg is chairman of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Klik2Learn and Frog Systems.  He is also a business angel and mentor. Nick has held numerous international business positions for companies including Coats Viyella, Stoddard International and Scott & Fyfe .

 

Josiah Lockhart

CEO Firstport

Chief Executive Officer, FirstPort

Josiah, as Chief Executive, oversees the development and strategic planning of FirstPort. Josiah has over 10 years’ experience leading and developing social enterprises though has also worked in the private and public sectors.  He has a strong history of seeing some of Scotland’s most successful social enterprises through intense change including the start-up of the Grassmarket Community Project and the rescue and restructure of Gorgie City Farm.

 

Helena Ward

Creative Industries Manager Creative Scotland

Creative Industries Manager

Helena is Creative Scotland's Creative Industries Manager, focusing on the sectors of design, architecture, craft, fashion and textiles. As well as sector development work, Helena's remit covers advocacy, brokering and investment. 

Before joining Creative Scotland, Helena was a manager at TRC media working primarily with Channel 4 and BBC on talent development and access to international markets. Prior to that, Helena managed the creative industries economic support at Scottish Enterprise.

 

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 summaries everything you need to know and even gives examples of previous, winning applications to help you take the leap.

Download now

Product Design Top Tips

Factsheet

Deciding whether to outsource your product design is a big decision. This handy checklist created by product design experts, i4PD, looks at what you need to consider before taking the plunge.

Download now

Alice Theatre Project

Case study

How a love of the performing arts led to a new, independent theatre company.

View case study

Lingo Flamingo

Case study

Recent research indicates that speaking a foreign language can postpone the effects of dementia by up to five years.  This incredible fact led Robbie Norval, a member of staff at the University of Stirling, to set up Lingo Flamingo, a social enterprise business offering tailored language classes to older adults across Scotland.

View case study