The 2017 shortlist of academic entrepreneurs for Scotland’s leading company creation competition was announced last week.
The judging process has shortlisted 25 nominees across the competition’s three award categories:
- Converge Challenge: for those with an established idea – 10 shortlisted
- KickStart: for early stage ideas – 10 shortlisted
- Social Enterprise: for ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues – 5 shortlisted
The shortlisted nominees represent 12 Scottish universities from across the country and 44% of this year’s finalists are female highlighting increased female participation year on year
University spin-outs dominate
University spinouts dominate the main Converge Challenge award category representing 7 of the Top 10 finalists. This demonstrates that entrepreneurial activity within Scotland’s universities is thriving and there is a solid path for the outcomes of worldwide research to be developed into businesses that benefit society and the economy.
Further highlights within the Converge Challenge award category include: a range of sectors from Life Sciences and Oil & Gas to Fintech and ICT; candidates are a combination of university graduates and staff; and finalists are engaging with other entrepreneurial opportunities such as the Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship and the Scottish Enterprise High-Growth Spinout Programme.
Broad range of ideas
The KickStart and Social Enterprise early stage finalists cover a broad range of innovations and ideas that include: a birthing mirror to assist midwifes; a control system for wind turbines; an online platform that delivers and monitors personalised physiotherapy programmes; and a portable toolkit designed to raise awareness of issues for hard of hearing individuals.
Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said:
“This year’s finalists are game changers showcasing innovations with amazing market potential. The candidate’s business plans displayed solid market engagement and commitment to developing a strong team and clear details on how they plan to grow the business – all key elements that contribute to the future success of a new business and ultimately Scotland’s economy.
“The strong pipeline of university spin-outs is encouraging and at Converge Challenge we are delighted to offer the follow on training and support to develop these ‘ideas’ into profitable and scalable businesses.
“We congratulate all the candidates for getting through to this stage, the judges found it difficult as every project had the potential to become an exciting business and we have no doubt they will go on to become Scotland’s next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.”
Finalists will go through to the final stage of the company creation competition and entrepreneurship development programme with the opportunity to win cash prizes and in kind business support packages from the total prize fund valued at over £170,000.
Leading entrepreneurial development programme
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 19 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 that have created 78 companies with a 43% incorporation rate. 77% of those companies have received follow-on funding totaling to £60 million and have a 78% survival rate post three years.
The winners of each of the three categories will be announced at a Converge Challenge awards ceremony on Thursday, 28thSeptember 2017 at the Glasgow Science Centre.