Student innovators across Scotland are vying for £300,000 worth of business startup prizes.

Twenty-eight budding entrepreneurs will go head to head in the final of Scotland’s largest company creation programme for the university sector in Edinburgh in November.

The fledgling businesses have been whittled down from more than 200 initial entries for the Converge 2022 competition.

Finalists come from universities across the country, including the Highlands and Islands, the Northeast, Tayside and the Central Belt representing diverse sectors including tech, robotics and sensors, through to the chemical industry, health care and engineering.

The finalists are competing for individual equity-free cash awards of up to £50,000 and in-kind business support from Converge’s network of professional partners which includes leading investors, lawyers, and business experts.

In the early-stage, KickStart Challenge category, is Roma Gibb, a nursing student from the University of the Highlands and Islands. Her project, Person Centred Solutions, aims to help people who are bed bound and struggle with everyday tasks to sit comfortably and with greater freedom. 

Projects from the Converge Challenge, a category focused on novel solutions with solid IP and high commercial potential, include Danu Robotics headed up by Xiaoyan Ma from the University of Edinburgh which uses AI to tackle the global issue of contamination in recycling – a problem which results in millions of tonnes of waste being sent to landfill every year.

Also making the shortlist is Lightwater Sensors from the University of St Andrews. Founder, Dr Ross Gillanders, has invented a hand-held monitoring system that meets the critical need for real-time water pollution detection.

The six finalists in the Converge Challenge category will also be invited to pitch their ideas live at an exclusive investors-only event at Scotland House in London next month. Organised in collaboration with Scottish Development International – and featuring an address from Ivan McKee, minister for business, trade, tourism and enterprise – the event will enable UK investors to see the very best innovation and entrepreneurship emerging from Scotland’s universities.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, said: “Scotland’s world-class universities continue to be brilliant hotbeds of innovation and creativity, as exemplified by this year’s Converge finalist cohort. The judges who reviewed this year’s cohort’s business plans believe that these emerging entrepreneurs are leading projects with real market potential and the power to strengthen our economy while creating a fairer future for all. The promise for all these 28 fledgling companies is huge, and the Converge team will be right behind them in championing their ground-breaking ideas.”

Three special awards will also be made on the night, including the Future Tech award, sponsored by Cisco, the Rose Award which recognises ambitious female entrepreneurs, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland and the IBioIC Award. This new award for 2022 is sponsored by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), and offers a package of support to one successful biotech project, including a free membership to IBioIC, a dedicated IBioIC account manager and £20,000 in project funding for the university where the project originated.