Future for forging an entrepreneurial and innovation pathway for Scotland’s academic community remains as prosperous as ever - Claudia Cavalluzzo

At the end of last month, the 11th Converge Programme, Scotland’s largest company creation scheme for our academic community, came to an end and its best projects were awarded a total of £300,000 in prizes. The newly announced prizewinners will be joining the ranks of a very esteemed group of successful entrepreneurs, many of whom have recently made the news.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, Converge
Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, Converge

The latest announcement was made by Current Health, winner of the 2014 KickStart Challenge from the University of Dundee, specialising in ‘remote’ healthcare delivery outside the hospital environment. After raising a total of £48 million, from from venture capitalist investors based in both Scotland and overseas, the company has been acquired by US retail giant Best Buy for an undisclosed sum.

This announcement was made not long after the microbiome therapeutics company, EnteroBiotix - 2015 Impact Challenge winner from the University of Aberdeen, shared the news about their latest $21m plus Series A financing. The company’s vision is to transform the standard of care for patients suffering from cancer and other deadly diseases through microbiome regulating therapeutics and in doing so, create a sustainable pharmaceutical company.

Elasmogen, a spin-out from the University of Aberdeen, and 2015 Converge Challenge runner up, is developing therapeutics for auto-inflammatory diseases that have recently been proven to stop Covid-19 infections. Elasmogen has raised a total of £4.5m in grants and £5.2m in equity investment over the last six years.

Every one of these companies, and those who are just beginning their start-up journey and raising their first seed round, are a true credit to Scotland’s ambition to be an entrepreneurial nation that builds its economy on innovative, resilient and sustainable businesses.

It is further proof that Converge plays a key role within the academic community and is seen as a force for good for the Scottish Economy – facts which were recognised in an independent economic evaluation report published in 2020. Twelve months on, the figures contained in that report have been greatly exceeded, because some of our alumni have moved so fast in securing millions in investment, both at home and overseas.

Converge’s own record shows that the programme has, to date, supported around 300 new companies who have collectively raised around £190m with approximately £150m being in equity investment.

This is a big success for Scotland and the Scottish economy – more so when you consider these companies have been responsible for creating new jobs, 500 plus and growing, and are developing products and services that are improving people’s lives. With 40 per cent of Converge alumni companies being three years-old or younger, we can expect the economic and social impact to grow exponentially in the coming years.

It is no surprise that all Scottish Universities have pledged support to Converge going forward, given that the programme has made such a difference in the Scottish entrepreneurial eco-system.

It is clearly too early to say what level of investment awaits this year’s Converge cohort, but when we see the development of emerging businesses in areas such as med-tech, AI, renewables, and Net Zero, we know that the future for forging an entrepreneurial and innovation pathway for Scotland’s academic community remains as prosperous as ever.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, Converge

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