Top pitches in the spotlight at Converge Challenge 2018

Peter Orrell from the James Hutton Institute has scooped the Converge Challenge 'Ready Steady Pitch' award. Picture: Contributed
Peter Orrell from the James Hutton Institute has scooped the Converge Challenge 'Ready Steady Pitch' award. Picture: Contributed
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The winner and runners up of a major contest showcasing the most innovative ideas emerging from Scottish Universities have been unveiled.

Peter Orrell from the James Hutton Institute has scooped the Converge Challenge “Ready Steady Pitch” award with his venture, MycoNourish, which uses fungi to act as a secondary root system to improve plant health.

The runner up place was bagged by Richard McAdam, Edinburgh Napier University, with RS McAdam Technology, while third place was taken by Tayyaba Nafees of Abertay University with CyberShellSol.

Converge Challenge harnesses and supports Scotland’s emerging entrepreneurial leaders from academia. It provides them with the “skills and confidence to develop their commercial propositions to meet societal challenges and become key drivers of the economy”.

Following an “intensive” three days of training, the Converge cohort is equipped with a business skills set to further develop their ventures in the hope of replicating the global success of the likes of travel search unicorn Skyscanner and craft beer maker BrewDog.

Olga Kozlova, director of Converge Challenge, said: “The calibre of the pitches was exceptional and I want to praise each and every one of the cohort involved.

“I am encouraged by the development of the participants who each year become more polished and more ambitious to deliver outstanding projects and companies.

“The impact of being shortlisted within our programme results in honing pitching and influencing skills and is another step for the participants on their own journey in becoming the next generation of Scotland’s entrepreneurs.”

Orrell, winner of the elevator pitch, said: “I am so excited and proud to have been chosen as the winner from the 30 Converge Challenge pitches.

“The training and support we received in the three days leading up to Ready Steady Pitch was immense. The confidence and abilities of everyone who participated has grown enormously and I am looking forward to applying these skills not just throughout the rest of the competition but beyond.”

Last year’s Converge Challenge 2017 elevator pitch winner went to Dr Holly Butler of the University of Strathclyde with ClinSpec Dx, a blood test-based diagnostics system that can provide early detection of brain tumours, which result in the early death of more patients than any other cancer.

Following this success, ClinSpec Dx went on to become the runner up of the Converge Challenge and secure a total prize fund of £42,000, comprising £25,000 in cash and £17,000 in business support. The Converge now builds to a main awards in September.