Launched in 2011 by Olga Kozlova, the pan-Scotland company creation competition and entrepreneurship development programme is aimed at staff, students and recent graduates of Scottish universities and research institutes. It is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and partner universities and contributors.
The three categories in 2018 are: Converge Challenge, for those with a developed idea; KickStart, for early stage ideas; and Social Enterprise, for ideas focusing on social and environmental issues.
A trend displayed in the shortlist, and making up almost a third of entries, is the shift towards sustainable solutions to a range of challenges – reducing consumption, re-using more products and recycling waste.
The top 60 projects this year include innovative software designed to improve the overall energy conversion efficiency of wind, hydro and tidal energy turbines.
There is also a ground-breaking ultrasound detection system to evaluate the response to medical treatments in days rather than months, resulting in earlier discovery and quicker treatment.
Another idea shortlisted is a low cost, non-invasive, digital home test to help women monitor their own gynecological health.
As participants progress to the top 60 they benefit from a range of opportunities and an extensive programme of support. Benefits of the programme include one-to-one bespoke advice, enhanced business and pitch training, hands-on mentoring and a total prize fund of more than £160,000 in cash and in-kind business support for the winners.
Business plan submissions take place in July, a Converge Challenge top ten selection is made in August and awards are announced in September.
Professor Andrea Nolan, convener of Universities Scotland, said: “I am truly delighted to see the shortlisted Converge Challenge participants continue to raise the bar each year and produce pioneering and innovative products and services from technology to robotics and health.
“I look forward to tracking the progress of these wonderful projects which exemplify the excellence of our Scottish universities and showcase the diversity of sectors they support.”