Claudia and Adam with KickStart Applications
A record 139 applications were received from across Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions for Converge Challenge
More projects than ever before will benefit from a 2-day practical business training programme to help develop their proposition culminating in an Awards Final with a prize package of £15,000. The record number of entries reinforce the message that the country’s universities remain a bedrock of innovation for early-stage ideas and projects that have the potential to become viable businesses.
Scotland’s vibrant academic entrepreneurial eco-system continues to flourish with 33 early stage business ideas within sight of reaching the final of the Converge Challenge KickStart 2019 programme next March where a £10,000 cash prize awaits the winner and £5,000 will go to the runner up.
The Creative Industries provide the highest increase in applicants for KickStart, up 59% on last year, with the Engineering and Technology, Life Sciences, Tourism and Textiles industries also well represented. From innovators looking to build affordable, 3D printed prosthetic arms through to touch screens powered by solar energy, the range and diversity of this year’s ideas has been outstanding.
Amongst them, Rajesh Kumar Plamthottathil from The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, working on his project TrackGenesis, a Blockchain based, AI powered software platform for the food and drink industry. This will enable organisations to fully digitize physical assets and track them from production to delivery to increase supply chain transparency.
Lucy Kerr from Glasgow School of Art has created Wet Blue - a recycling project that investigates ways that waste products from leather production can be re-used and turned into a sustainable alternative to paper made from wet blue hide shavings. Wet Blue is sparking a movement towards the future of design materiality being centred around utilising the world's waste.
iOembedded, a venture created by Heriot-Watt University student Alexander Bowen, has developed a sensor technology ‘IOsight’ set to transform the smart home by using gesture control and environmental imaging rather than cameras, lenses and lasers. The idea is to make the smart home secure from hacking.
A record number of female applicants across all sectors submitted applications, up 71% on 2018, whilst, overall, Glasgow School of Art provide the greatest number of submissions, followed by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rural College and the University of Glasgow.
Claudia Cavalluzzo, interim director of Converge Challenge is delighted with the scope and variety of this year’s entrants, commenting that these early-stage ideas are a testament to a continuing confidence amongst staff and students across Scotland’s Universities that an entrepreneurial mindset can turn the ‘kernel’ of an idea into a transformative business.
“Submissions for the 2019 KickStart programme has surpassed all our expectations, not just in the number of applications received, but in the quality and creativity of the ideas.
“We’ve now refined the entries and have selected a cohort of innovators who will undergo entrepreneurial skills training that will help them to develop practical business management and enterprise skills to get their ideas to the next level.
“As KickStart is based around early stage development ideas, entrants may have limited experience of the practicalities of starting or running a business. However, the training they undertake offers them the chance to develop their first business plan, an essential element in the journey of any entrepreneur.
“We are delighted that Scotland’s Higher Education sector is strongly committed to developing entrepreneurship, helping to crystallise these early-stage business ideas and contributing to Scotland’s economy. We are thrilled with such a strong cohort of projects and look forward to working with them in the months ahead.”
The candidates will now be invited to attend a two-day training programme taking place in Edinburgh next month with the chance to submit their business case in February. The shortlisted KickStart projects will then be assessed by an external judging panel with the winning projects announced at the KickStart Awards in March.
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