Finalists for Converge 2020, Scotland’s leading academic company creation programme, have been announced.
The event will take place on the 24th of September via a virtual platform, and hopes to highlight the importance of Scottish academic entrepreneurship.
Finalists will be given the opportunity to showcase their products across three of the four established Converge ‘Challenges’ – Impact, Creative and Converge. Part of a £230,000 total prize fund and business support are also up for grabs.
Technology and data innovation are major themes of the Converge Challenge this year. These include the analysis of satellite data, assessing fish health across Scotland’s salmon farming sector and diagnostic techniques to identify heart diseases in companion animals using a single blood sample.
In June, 60 semi-finalists presented their ideas via two virtual pitch events that reached a global audience, where more than 300 people logged in from the likes of the US and India.
The finalists for Converge 2020 are:
- Brian Quinn – Aquaculture Health Laboratory – the University of the West of Scotland
- Barry Leaper – LiberEat – University of Aberdeen
- Genevieve Patenaude – Earth Blox – University of Edinburgh
- Desmond Gibson – Albasense Ltd – University of West Scotland
- Stuart Hannah – Microplate Dx – University of Strathclyde
- Robyn Hickerson – Ten Bio – University of Dundee
- Ross Gillanders – Lightwater Sensors – University of St Andrews
- Eve Hanks – MI:RNA – SRUC
- Elena Höge – Yaldi Games – University of Edinburgh
- Lucy Fisher – Knit It – Robert Gordon University
- Stephenie Pagulayan – ALICE Theatre Project – University of the Highlands and Islands
- Robbie MacIsaac – MacIsaac Ltd – University of Strathclyde
- Jonathan O’Neill – Make Your Own Musicals – Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
- Dominic Gammon/Leia Kennedy – Aquaponics Garden – SRUC
- Bartosz Soltowski/Fraser Stewart – Connex Solar – University of Strathclyde
- James Swinburne – Metacarpal – University of Strathclyde
- Yanik Adam Nyberg -Seawater Solutions Ltd – University of Strathclyde
- Laura Higham – Vet Sustain – University of Edinburgh
Paul Atkinson, founder of Par Equity and Chair of the Converge Strategic Advisory Board, believes that, despite the pandemic, the high calibre of entries this year is “a testament to Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions’ continued support of innovative projects and ideas”.
Atkinson commented: “This year has unquestionably been a challenge for us all. Despite university campuses being in lockdown, the making of an entrepreneur lies in the unerring ability to overcome any obstacle and push on for success.
“That’s what we are seeing with this year’s exceptional final cohort and is what sets Converge apart as Scotland’s most prestigious company creation programme for our academic community.”
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Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, believes that the unusual circumstances this year present an opportunity for Scotland’s academic community to “throw open its arms” to the rest of the world.
“For obvious reasons, our approach this year is different and wholeheartedly embraces the message that Scotland is an innovation powerhouse,” she said. “The beauty of the virtual format is we can expect people joining us from across the globe.
“The last global economic downturn over a decade ago happened to coincide with the launch of some of the most successful start-ups like WhatsApp, Groupon and Uber, so we should take inspiration from that.”
The 2020 finalists will present their propositions to the judging panels made of investors and industry experts, who will then choose the 2020 winners.