Academic entrepreneurs from Scots universities to compete for £300,000 prize pot

Academic entrepreneurs from a dozen Scottish institutions have reached the final of the latest Converge competition and will compete for a £300,000-plus prize pot.

Scotland’s largest company creation programme for the university sector has unveiled the 28 finalists who will compete for equity-free funding and start-up support at an awards ceremony in Edinburgh in early November.

The fledgling businesses have been whittled down from more than 200 initial entries for the Converge 2022 competition. Finalists come from universities across the length and breadth of Scotland with projects spanning a diverse range of sectors from tech, robotics and sensors, through to the chemical industry, health care and engineering.

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The finalists are competing for individual equity-free cash awards of up to £50,000, and in-kind business support from a network of professional partners which includes some of the country’s top investors, lawyers and business experts.

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In the early-stage, KickStart Challenge category is Roma Gibb, a nursing student from the University of the Highlands and Islands. Her project, Person Centred Solutions, aims to help people who are bed bound and struggle with everyday tasks to sit comfortably and with greater freedom.

Projects from the Converge Challenge, a category focused on novel solutions with “solid” intellectual property (IP) and high commercial potential, include Danu Robotics, headed up by Xiaoyan Ma from the University of Edinburgh, which uses artificial intelligence to tackle the global issue of contamination in recycling.

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The six finalists in the Challenge category will also be invited to pitch their ideas live at an exclusive investors-only event at Scotland House in London next month.

Organised in collaboration with Scottish Development International and featuring an address from Scottish business minister Ivan McKee, the event will enable UK-wide investors to see the very best innovation and entrepreneurship emerging from Scotland’s universities.

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Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, said: “Scotland’s world-class universities continue to be brilliant hotbeds of innovation and creativity, as exemplified by this year’s Converge finalist cohort.

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“The judges who reviewed this year’s cohort’s business plans believe that these emerging entrepreneurs are leading projects with real market potential and the power to strengthen our economy while creating a fairer future for all.”

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