Final ten battle for Scotland’s biggest start-up prize – £45k up for grabs

A ‘DRESS rehearsal’ facility for surgeons, a new form of plastic that can purify water, and ‘smart paint’ that detects structural defects are among the top ten business ideas competing for Scotland’s biggest start-up prize.

The short-listed applicants for Converge Challenge, whittled down from a record long-list of 50, include five from Edinburgh universities, four from Glasgow universities, and one from the University of Dundee.

Converge Challenge, run by Heriot-Watt University, gives students and members of staff of any Scottish university the chance to develop the commercial potential of their inventions with a four month-long series of business mentoring and training, before being short-listed for the final prize, £25k cash funding and a further £20k in-kind support from the private sector.

Olga Kozlova, creator of Converge Challenge, said: “New and existing SMEs are set to be a key driver in Scotland’s economic recovery.   “Converge Challenge is about equipping people with the right skills and support they need to turn their academic research into a successful commercial venture.

“All ten short-listed entrants have a market-focussed product or service, and have demonstrated impressive commercial acumen and business planning.

“Going by the number and quality of this year’s entrants, Scotland’s track record of nurturing home-grown entrepreneurs across life sciences, IT, design and other key sectors, looks set to continue.”

In addition to the top ten, a special ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ award of £2,000 support has been awarded to Christine Watson, who is using her research into smart fabrics and heat-sensitive dyes to develop fashionable, water-proof garments, some of which may change colour as body heat alters, targeted primarily at music festival-goers.

This year, Converge Challenge has seen a record number of applicants, 50 from 14 separate institutions across Scotland, up 18% on the previous year.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Authority, university research led to the creation of 184 spin-offs in Scotland in 2010/11, up from 74 in 2008/9. With the Scottish Government considering how to ensure more public sector contracts go to SMEs, the opportunities for start-ups are growing.

ENDS

For more information including profiles on short-listed applicants’ products/businesses, please contact esther.black@pagodapr.com or call 0131 556 0770.

Notes to editor

1. The short-listed top ten can be found here

2. Achievements of Converge Challenge Since first launching in 2010, Converge Challenge has: • Received over 130 applications from nine universities across Scotland
• Trained over 80 research entrepreneurs • Over 1400 staff and students attended associated seminars and workshops • Supported 10 companies into commercial trading

3. Key dates in the Converge Challenge
Judges select top 6                                  Monday 3 September
Final pitches and awards dinner         Thursday 27 September

For more information visit: http://www.hw.ac.uk/convergechallenge

Contact: Pagoda Public Relations

Email: lorna.saunders@pagodapr.com