Converge Challenge winners scoop £150,000

Converge Challenge winners scoop £150,000

£150,000 has been awarded to some of Scotland’s most emerging entrepreneurs following last night’s Converge Challenge 2016 Awards.

The event, which took place at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, welcomed over 220 guests including the panel of expert judges, made up of industry experts.

The 2016 Converge Challenge programme has been the most successful to date with 17 of Scotland’s universities represented, among 212 applications. This was a record number of applicants and represents 14% growth year on year.

The first place prize of Converge Challenge 2016 has been jointly awarded to MindMate and MicroSense Technologies Ltd.

The first place prize, valued at £71,000, includes £43,000 in cash and £28,000 worth of business support will be split between the joint winners.

MindMate, led by Susanne Mitchske of University of Glasgow, is an assistance platform for people with dementia, their caregivers and family members.

MicroSense Technologies Ltd is led by Professor Marc Desmulliez of Heriot-Watt University, a service company based on the patented product called FoodSense, a microwave-based sensor system for the food and drink industries.

Dr Olga Kozlova, director of Converge Challenge, said: "My congratulations to all the winners, the finalists and the participants of Converge Challenge 2016 for raising the bar yet again. This is the first time we have had a joint first place and it is testament to the quality of this year’s finalists."

The second place prize was awarded to Chris Hughes, of University of Strathclyde.

Chris is behind Estendio, a company aiming to revolutionise the educational development of dyslexics throughout the world by delivering innovative software products and services.

They take home a total prize fund of £29,000, including £15,000 in cash and £14,000 in business support.

New for 2016, the Design and Creativity prize, in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, was awarded to Dr Alexander Enoch from University of Edinburgh.

He was awarded £24,000, including £10,000 in cash and £14,000 in business support, towards his business Robotical Ltd which creates robots aimed at engaging the next generation of engineers and scientists.

The KickStart prize, for early stage ideas, was awarded to Dr David Harris-Birtill of University of St Andrews for his firm Beyond Meics Ltd: Automated Remote Pulse Oximetry.

The technology is made up of a camera-based systems which remotely measures patients’ vital signs.

He took away a cash prize of £3,000.

An additional award for the KickStart finalists was the KickStart Digital Entrepreneur Award, with the winner chosen by an online vote by the public.

Richard McAdam, the creator of Regenerative Shock Absorber, from Edinburgh Napier University, took home the prize.

In collaboration with Firstport, the Social Enterprise category focused on ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues. The first place prize of £5,000 cash was awarded to Erika Grant of University of Aberdeen with Project TurnKey, a social enterprise that empowers people to see a life beyond prostitution.

Finally, a cash prize of £1,000 was awarded to Anna Renouf, of University of the Highlands and Islands, as part of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award sponsored by Entrepreneurial Scotland.

Ms Renouf created Orrin Equestrian Ltd, a company that has developed a new saddle, produced from composite materials, enhancing comfort for horse and rider.

Dr Kozlova said: "Scotland’s universities have once again shown that their ambition to create world leading products and services is thriving and we are committed to offering the practical support that these blossoming ideas always need."

Keith Brown MSP, cabinet secretary for the economy, jobs and fair work, said: "The Converge Challenge is an excellent example of universities collaborating, sharing best practice in entrepreneurial education and activity.

"To be a CAN DO nation, we know that our prosperity depends on successful new ideas and new businesses being created here in Scotland, which is why entrepreneurs and innovators will be fundamental to generating jobs and economic growth in the future. 

"The Converge Challenge makes an invaluable contribution towards Scotland becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial nation."

Susan Deacon, chair of institute of directors Scotland, added: "Collaboration and teamwork are key to the success of every business and to our economy.

"Converge is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when Universities and businesses combine their efforts to bring people and ideas together and to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.

"We should never underestimate the importance of forging the human connections which enable individuals and their companies to learn, innovate and grow."