‘Converge Challenge’ start-ups raise £1m

COMPANIES that have taken part in Heriot-Watt University’s “Converge Challenge” have raised more than £1 million between them since the competition began in 2010.

A dozen start-ups have secured funding following the contest, which is open to both staff and students at Scotland’s universities and other higher education institutions.

The 2013 scheme will be launched in Glasgow on Tuesday.

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Eight of the firms applied for “Smart” funding from Scottish Enterprise to help them develop their ideas.

Olga Kozlova, enterprise creation manager at Heriot-Watt, said such grant funding was important because it helped to spread the risk for investors.

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“As part of the competition, we train the finalists on how to pitch to investors,” she explained. “We also help them to build relationships with customers, because that’s what investors really want to see.”

Firms that raised funds include AdvancetoGo, the Edinburgh-based online property letting agency that secured £50,000 from Sir Richard Branson’s “Pitch” contest, and Biogelx, a spin-out from Strathclyde University that raised £20,000 from the Gabriel business angel syndicate and the Scottish Investment Bank and is moving to the Bio-City Scotland incubation centre at Newhouse.