Converge Challenge 2017 winners announced

Converge Challenge 2017 winner alongside Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

© Lesley Martin 2017

Dave Hughes from University of the West of Scotland wins Converge Challenge 2017 with novosound.  

Academic innovation continues to soar with revolutionary sensors, a cooling back-rest cushion for wheelchair users, a blood test to detect brain tumours, algorithms for wind turbines, a birthing mirror for midwifes, an online platform for physiotherapy and sensory gardens for dementia sufferers.

These were some of the winning ideas from Scotland’s leading company creation competition and entrepreneurial development programme for Scottish universities.

The winners were announced at the Converge Challenge awards ceremony on Thursday, 28th September 2017, where an increased prize fund of £170,000 of cash and in kind prizes were awarded to Scotland’s best and brightest ideas.

Winner with potential to disrupt markets

Scotland’s First Minister presented the winner of Converge Challenge 2017 to Dave Hughes of University of the West of Scotland for his project novosound – technology that will allow expectant parents to see their unborn child with the image quality of MRI.

The revolutionary sensors, systems and software allow for low cost, high resolution imaging and will disrupt the medical, dental, industrial and veterinary markets.

The first place prize, valued at £78,000, includes £50,000 in cash and £28,500 worth of business support that includes mentoring from Royal Bank of Scotland, automatic entry to pitch on-stage at EIE18 and an opportunity to match a Scottish Enterprise SMART Feasibility Award. All main Converge Challenge category winners also gain automatic entry to the semi-final of Scottish EDGE.

Dave Hughes, novosound, said:

“Myself and all the team at novosound are thrilled to win this year’s Converge Challenge. The experience, expertise and support has already been invaluable and it seems like only yesterday we were learning how to pitch as part of our training. We look forward to making sure this package of support takes novosound to the next level.”

‘Web-Based Physiotherapy’

The Converge Challenge Social Enterprise Award category, staged in collaboration with Firstport, focuses on ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues.

The first place prize of £5,000 as well as in-kind business support from Spreng Thomson and Morton Ward was awarded to Lorna Paul from Glasgow Caledonian University for Web-Based Physiotherapy, an online platform for the remote delivery and monitoring of personalised physiotherapy exercise programmes.

Winning £3,500, the Social Enterprise runner up is Callum MacKinnon, also from Glasgow Caledonian University, with Forth Valley Rebound Therapy Service CIC, a project that delivers physical therapy sessions for children and young people with additional support needs.

Developing talents

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: “Well done to all of the winners and finalists of this year’s Converge Challenge. Awards like Converge are a fantastic way of developing the talents of Scotland’s many young entrepreneurs and innovators.”

“But they’re also an opportunity to showcase one of Scotland’s great traditional strengths – generating new ideas, products and technologies, supported by our world-class educational institutions.”

“I want to see a ‘can do’ culture define us as a country on every level, and the talent and determination of these finalists shows that we are well on the way to fulfilling that vision.”

Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said: “Congratulations to all this year’s winners and finalists, the projects have been by far the strongest to date, demonstrating a real step change in ambition and participation. The mix of innovations, sectors and routes to success highlights the thriving entrepreneurial spirit within our universities.”

“Listening to the pitches earlier today proved that there was a strong aspiration from our finalists to build truly global companies and it is exciting to be part of their journeys. Each and every one of them has the opportunity to succeed through hard work, entrepreneurial support and a CAN DO attitude.”

Application process

In 2017, Scotland’s leading academic initiative received 212 applicants from 17 of Scotland’s universities and research institutes. Applicants were then shortlisted and invited to take part in a 2-3 day intensive residential training programme at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Gogarburn, in May.

They spent the following months working with the Converge Challenge team and valued partners developing their final business plans that were submitted in August.

The Top 6 Converge Challenge finalists delivered their investor presentations earlier today to the panel of expert judges, made up of industry experts, leading entrepreneurs and investors from across the business community.

Leading company creation competition

Converge Challenge is Scotland’s leading company creation competition and entrepreneurial development programme for staff, students and recent graduates of Scottish universities and Research institutes.

Converge Challenge represents all of Scotland’s universities and research institutes, demonstrating the strong collaborative enterprise agenda in Scotland.

It has trained 180 company founders and 120 early stage and social enterprise founders who have created 78 companies with a 43% incorporation rate. 77% of those companies have received follow-on funding totalling £60 million and have a 78% survival rate after three years.

A full list of all the winners can be found on the Converge Challenge website: www.convergechallenge.com