KickStart Challenge

Register Your Interest

What is it?

KickStart will open for applications on 8 October 2019.

The KickStart Challenge is aimed at early-stage, innovative projects that have the potential to become high-growth businesses.

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 market demand.  

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:

  • The clarity of your business proposal
  • Innovation
  • Market potential
  • Market research and engagement
  • Route to market
  • Understanding of resources

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
Application Deadline – 19 November (12 noon)
Business Training – 8, 9, 10 January
Business Case Submission – 30 January
Awards Final – 20 February

Judging panel

Eleanore Irvine

Senior Business Development Manager, Fios Genomics

Eleanore is a PhD-trained chemist, with experience in product commercialisation and business start-up mechanisms. Previously co-founder and business development manager of Biogelx Ltd, a top ten Converge company (2012), having played an integral role in progressing university research through to company spin out, product launch and now growing global sales. Eleanore is now US business development manager for Fios Genomics, a fast growing bioinformatics service provider.

Ewan Anderson

Associate Marketing Director, Eden Scott

Ewan has over 15 years’ experience in a range of marketing roles having worked with both large organisations and start-ups alike. He now heads up the marketing team for Eden Scott and TalentSpark supporting the various teams to connect exciting businesses with the very best candidates on the market. As a CIM Scotland board member he regularly presents on the ever changing world of marketing.

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.

Jim Henderson

Business Development Manager, West Lothian Council

Jim manages a number of teams whose focus is on the sustainable and inclusive growth of the West Lothian economy.

After university, Jim worked in the private sector in a number of marketing roles. In 2003 he was recruited by Business Gateway. Jim now manages the high-performing West Lothian Business Gateway team who help over 400 new-start businesses every year.

Jim is also responsible for the delivery of the Jobs Task Force which will create an additional 450 high-value jobs in manufacturing, software development, engineering and life sciences by 2021.

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.