KickStart Challenge

Register Your Interest

What is it?

KickStart is now closed and will re-open for applications in October 2020.

The KickStart Challenge is aimed at early-stage, innovative projects embarking on the first steps of the commercialisation journey.

Designed to test and validate your business idea, this is your chance to access hands-on training, expert advice and practical support.

Prize package

Winner: £10,000*
Runner-up: £5,000

All Successful Applicants: Two days of entrepreneurial training, pitch training and bespoke business advice.

*The winner is also automatically eligible to be fast-tracked to the semi-final of the next Converge Challenge, Impact Challenge or Creative Challenge Programme.

Who can apply?

The KickStart category is open to all sectors, enterprise types and to both product and service-based ideas. Applicants must be able to demonstrate product/service feasibility, strong unique selling points and commercial viability.

KickStart is most suitable for projects embarking on the first steps of the commercialisation journey and has been designed to help you establish commercial viability while preparing you to enter the more advanced Converge programmes.

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

Check out our full Terms and Conditions here. 

Judging criteria

You will be judged on:

  • Innovation
  • Commercial viability
  • Clarity of product/service development plan
  • Understanding of what you need to get market ready
  • Proposed business model

What’s involved?

If your application is successful, you will be asked to:

  • Attend a two day course of intensive business and pitch training
  • Attend a full day business surgery workshop with our network of partners
  • Submit a business case and 1-minute video pitch

Then, if you’re lucky enough to be selected as a finalist, you will be asked to pitch to a live audience at a special KickStart Awards ceremony.


2020 Programme Dates:

Programme Launch – 8 October 2019
Application Deadline – 19 November 2019 (12 noon)
Business Training – 8, 9, 10 January 2020
Business Case Submission – 30 January 2020
Awards Final – 26 February 2020

Judging panel

Paula Ritchie

Regional Head of Business Development Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland

Paula heads up business development for The Royal Bank of Scotland’s Business Bank. She supports a team of Business Growth Enablers that provide expertise, run events and connect businesses with the right partners to help them achieve their ambitions. Paula has worked within the Bank for over 12 years through a variety of roles.

Gordon Stark

Chief Operations Officer, Murgitroyd

Gordon Stark is Chief Operations Officer at Murgitroyd, one of the largest firms of patent and trade mark attorneys in Europe.

With a first class Honours degree in immunology from the University of Edinburgh, Gordon has an established track record of advising both developing and mature life science companies. He is also an active member of the life sciences community in Scotland and former Chair of the IP and Innovation Group of the Scottish Life Sciences Association.

Gordon joined Murgitroyd in 1998 and took on the role of Chief Operations Officer in 2012. One of his main points of focus is the continual improvement of the service offering from the company to its clients.

Brian Combe

Co-Founder and Managing Director, i4 Product Design

Brian Combe is Co-founder and Managing Director of i4 Product Design, an innovative product development consultancy based in Edinburgh.

Brian has over 30 years’ experience in product design & development, consultancy and business management including 20 years designing and leading electro-mechanical projects in the development of many highly commercial products.

Brian and fellow directors founded i4 in December 2003 with just four staff and a turnover of £0.3million. Since then the company has enjoyed steady growth and now employs 20 staff. It has also generated hundreds of millions of pounds for its clients by helping to introduce numerous successful products into the consumer, medical and industrial markets.

Dr. Lorna Paul

Founder, Giraffe Healthcare

Lorna has been a Chartered Physiotherapist for thirty years. She is Professor of Allied Health Science at Glasgow Caledonian University and also the co-founder of Giraffe Healthcare Community Interest Company which was incorporated in 2018. Giraffe Healthcare provides an online platform for the remote delivery of clinical services including physiotherapy.

Lorna is a previous Converge winner taking first prize in our 2017 Social Enterprise category.

Got a question?

Check out our FAQ page where you can find answers to frequently asked questions.

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Email the Converge Team and we’ll try to help.