Report highlights entrepreneurial value of Converge Challenge

Report highlights entrepreneurial value of Converge Challenge

Scottish start-ups and university spinouts who participated in Converge Challenge have gone on to secure almost £30m in funding, and more than £5m of GVA for the Scottish economy.

Converge Challenge is an entrepreneurial development programme and company creation competition for staff, students and recent graduates from Scotland’s Universities and Research Institutes, and £12.5m of that funding is attributed directly to their programme.

Since its inception Converge Challenge has awarded prizes with a value of £663,000, with 56% awarded in cash, and 44% awarded in in-kind support.

The impact of Converge Challenge has been independently evaluated in detail for the first time by BiGGAR Economics. The report found:

Follow-on Funding – Overall, £29.7m of follow-on funding was secured by businesses based in Scotland and of this, £12.5m can be directly attributed to the support provided through Converge Challenge. This means that every £1 funding invested by the SFC and universities in the Converge Challenge to date has enabled Scottish businesses to leverage a further £7.51 in funding.

  • Company Creation - From 2011-2016, the main Converge Challenge award category, for those with the most developed ideas, has provided training to 180 individuals, 69 of whom subsequently formally incorporated their businesses. This represents an incorporation rate of 38%.
  • Survival Rate - Of these 69 businesses, 60 remained active in 2016, representing an overall survival rate of 87%.
  • Job creation - It is estimated that the businesses that have taken part in Converge Challenge supported 180 jobs based in Scotland in 2016. Out of those 100 jobs can be directly attributed to Converge Challenge.
  • Value Creation - 97% of Converge Challenge participants reported that they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their experience as participants in Converge. The most commonly used words used by participants to describe their experience of the programme were, “supportive”, “challenging” and “informative”'.
  • GVA - It is estimated that the businesses supported by the Converge Challenge generated £5.2 million GVA for the Scottish economy in 2016.  Of this it was estimated that £3.4m of GVA can be directly attributed to the support provided by the Converge Challenge.  This means that each £1 of funding invested by the SFC and universities in the Converge Challenge to date generated £2.07 GVA for the Scottish economy in 2016. 

Commenting on the report, Dr Olga Kozlova, founder and director of Converge Challenge, said:“Six years on, we wanted to assess Converge Challenge’s contribution to the Scottish economy and the return on investment delivered for funders and stakeholders. This independent report provides us with some hard numbers to show the real impact Converge Challenge is making on the entrepreneurial landscape, amongst the academic community and, of course, Scotland’s economy; this would not have been possible without our funding from eight Scottish universities and the Scottish Funding Council.

“Converge is only as good as our alumni companies and it is fantastic to see the growth in funding, investment, jobs and, most importantly, the ambition and confidence of our programme participants. It is a delight to support the creation of companies like Shot Scope Ltd that within three years are now employing 20 staff.

John Kemp, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council said: “Converge Challenge throws the spotlight onto some of the amazing entrepreneurial talent emerging from Scotland’s universities and research institutes. This report shows just how well this emerging talent is doing in securing investment, marketing successful products and creating great jobs for the Scottish economy.”

Converge Challenge brings together the most ambitious and creative thinkers from any Scottish Higher Education Institute (HEI) and offers three award categories. Converge Challenge: for those with an established idea; KickStart: for early stage ideas; and Social Enterprise: for ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues. Converge Challenge is open to staff, students and recent graduates and ideas can be for a product, process or a service, at any stage of development and from any industry sector.