Scotland’s universities paving the way to a better future

The future is coming and sooner than you think with 100 breakthrough ideas from Scotland’s universities now through to the 2024 semi-finals of Converge, Scotland’s springboard for university-born innovators.

Featuring emerging technologies that could change the way we eat, live, and safeguard our planet, this year’s shortlist includes ideas from across the length and breadth of Scotland with 18 Scottish Universities and Research Institutes included in the final cut. 

Split across four challenge categories – Converge, Create Change, Net Zero and KickSart – they include PalmAlt, a revolutionary, sustainable alternative to palm oil which could offer a solution to the damaging effects of palm cultivation. Led by Catriona Liddle, an academic at Queen Margaret University, the new proprietary solution includes a by-product from the linseed industry, fibre and rapeseed oil which can be produced locally, at global scale, and is cost-competitive. If adopted by the food industry to replace palm oil, it could significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions and the deforestation of global rainforests associated with palm production.

Another ground-breaking project in Food & Drink is Gledfield Distillery which uses oats to craft botanical spirits – reportedly a world-first. Founded by Highlands & Islands University graduate, Ciara Bow, the recipe is inspired by Ciara’s great, great grandmother who operated an illicit still in her croft in Ardgay. 

Other top performing sectors this year include the Life Sciences, Technology and Engineering; Renewable Energy and the Creative Industries with projects showcasing a clearer alignment between profitability and sustainability than ever before. In the Creative Industries, this includes BIO-WOOL, a multifaceted material created by University of Dundee graduate, Tom Stewart, to provide an innovative application for British wool. Tom, who hails from a farming background, was motivated to start his business after seeing farmers burn their fleeces in the face of collapsing wool prices.

Signalling the global attractiveness of Scotland’s universities, founders from ethnically diverse backgrounds make up 39% of the 2024 Converge cohort with nearly 50% coming from outside of the UK. 

Commenting on this year’s cohort announcement, Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director of Converge said: 

“Innovation thrives on the intersection of creativity, curiosity and market needs and nowhere is this more apparent than in our 2024 cohort. Representing the very best academic innovators from across our world-beating university sector, their ideas have the potential to fundamentally change life as we know it.

It’s this drive to create something new, to make the world a better place and to disrupt the status quo that has always fascinated me. It’s also one of the reasons why I love to spend time with entrepreneurs. I can’t wait to get to know this year’s cohort and look forward to finding out more about them and their businesses. 

Dr Cavalluzzo added: I’m also encouraged to see such a multitude of projects from diverse backgrounds this year. Scotland has always been a welcoming place, particularly in our universities. It’s great to see that they continue to attract top-tier students and researchers from around the world.”

All 100 semi-finalists will now be invited to attend in-depth business training with the most advanced projects invited to pitch their ideas live to an invited audience of investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders on 5 June in Edinburgh.  

For the full list of semi-finalists, see below:

Converge Challenge:

Ageing (Ltd)Suvish Glasgow Caledonian
DroneTectorMatthew MooreSt. Andrews
Excellio LabsKamila MalyszEdinburgh
Forensic VRVincenzo RinaldiDundee
GenProtexRicardo Moreno BallesterosDundee
GI Healthcare IndustriesAdip Ranjan DasHeriot-Watt
IDxSenseJamie ScottEdinburgh
Ikarians HealthtechGuilherme Theiss De RossoAberdeen
INFINECTSamuel RotenbergHeriot-Watt
InProcessMomchil VasilevStrathclyde
KaibaDaniele MariniStrathclyde
KineticolorMarc Reid Strathclyde
LastingAssetNanik RamchandaniEdinburgh Napier
Northern Light MicroscopyPeter William TinningStrathclyde
PCADIain McDougallStrathclyde
RespiratoneHendrik NahlerHeriot-Watt
RHAPSEDAHelge DorfmuellerDundee
RideScanShivoh Chirayil NandakumarHeriot-Watt
Smart Wireless EpilepticHadi Larijani Glasgow Caledonian
TrueDeployPavlos PapadopoulosEdinburgh Napier

Create Change Challenge:

532 Design Simon Fraser Abertay
Aspective ConsultingDavid ThorpeHeriot-Watt
CarnieBees Kaya MalinowskaRobert Gordon
DynamigoClare Daly Strathclyde
Gledfield DistilleryCiara BowHighlands & Islands
GradatimElizabeth Smith Edinburgh
KEPsoft Collaborative David ManloveGlasgow
Let’s Do EngineeringHelen Bridle Heriot-Watt
MudeKat PohoreckaEdinburgh Napier
PlacementtThomas Barton Dundee
Screen HustlerFairouz DridiWest of Scotland
Skint Studio Robert GrimoireGlasgow Caledonian
SymphoMeIfeanyichukwu EzinmaduEdinburgh
Ujamaa SpiceRist van de WeyerEdinburgh
Voice Buddy Felix SchaefflerQueen Margaret

Net Zero Challenge:

4SB Mobility Rory BoneGSA/Glasgow
Airspection Matthew McLeanStrathclyde
Agri-LibraAndrew ChristieJames Hutton
Alba KineticsHossein ZanganehRobert Gordon
biflow Alp YesilkayaHeriot-Watt
BIO-WOOLTom Stewart Dundee
BlackBoxMohsen LalehparvarAberdeen
E.V.A BiosystemsAlexander SpeakmanEdinburgh
ENTROPYSTArash BadakhshStrathclyde
HychorJani ShibuyaAberdeen
JBSB StudiosJohn BradleyAbertay
Raygonal Aliyu DalaEdinburgh
SolarSubSebastiaan SchalkwijkEdinburgh
VanFillAleksandra Czech-SekleckaHighlands & Islands
WattacurrentBharat ThakkarAberdeen

KickStart Challenge:

Academy of ThoughtVivek ReghuStrathclyde
AI Methane TrackerVitalii StarikovHeriot-Watt
AMH360Alexander WilliamsQueen Margaret
AquaZoaHayder Al MsheleshHeriot-Watt
Cardio IntelOlugbenga AbejirinRobert Gordon
CogniCallMax AylmerDundee
CSV GetterGavin AdamsGlasgow
Cubble Tech Jessica MillerEdinburgh
Cykelworx Design Jonah Davies-JonesStrathclyde
DjarapharmaAhmed KonnehEdinburgh
EcoHeat SolutionAamir WaniEdinburgh
EconomeLawal OlaotanStirling
Edvance AIIdeja BajraSt Andrews
EnlightFaheem AbdusatharStrathclyde
Fancy Frog GamesJohn MillerAbertay
Floating FleecesMolly FletcherSRUC
Fly FarmerShalom OshiSRUC
Haze & HearthRobbie GrahamGlasgow
Healthy AmbitionsMel PrenticeQueen Margaret
HerGamesYihui ZhaoGSA
Inclusio DesignRowan CunninghamStrathclyde
InnoSportLuis ToralRobert Gordon
JaaloluSerign-B SannehGlasgow Caledonian
KoenaChinenye ObiohaGSA
MedSnappHaseeb HamidDundee
MosaIQSebastien ChastinGlasgow Caledonian
MyFarm Jimmy ChuGlasgow
NatQuestSalisu UbaStrathclyde
NeurodaptDaniel BrownStrathclyde
New Found HopeNathan DudleyDundee
Orchy MG Garance LocatelliStrathclyde
ORYNXPrateek RangraQueen Margaret
Ovation AgricultureJillian GordonSRUC
PalmAltCatriona LiddleQueen Margaret
PiTCHCedric EnglishEdinburgh Napier
Plant CarbonGervase CottamSRUC
PodplisticKayla-Megan BurnsStrathclyde
RevSimThomas MolonyGlasgow Caledonian
SafeveillanceHanna NosalAberdeen
Scotia BiotechAdam FoulisStrathclyde
Sea SatSolomon WhiteEdinburgh
SimPat InnovationsDavid BourneEdinburgh
Skyborn AIPetar BaltovAberdeen
Sof Source InternationalOlusoji Lawrence TaiwoAberdeen
STEMSpecOjotule OnojaRobert Gordon
Tooth4LifeMohammad IslamDundee
TourprismAshan AbeyratneStirling
Ubiquitous GridCalum MackinnonStrathclyde
Weave CentrixMike GillRobert Gordon
XR Life ScienceCraig DalyGlasgow