A record forty two entries have been submitted by University of Edinburgh student and academic entrepreneurs to take part in this year’s Converge Challenge. This is an increase of almost 25% on last year.
The University of Edinburgh entries are buoyed by the overall national picture which sees submissions up 68% across 17 of Scotland’s Universities and Research Institutes, rising to 186 against a total of 111 in 2014.
Grant Wheeler, Head of Company Formation at Edinburgh Research and Innovation, the University of Edinburgh's commercialisation office, said:
"The Converge Challenge is a big thing for us. It's the biggest competition for new technology companies in Scotland and one of the biggest in the UK. The support it provides to those who get through to the next round of the competition adds a huge amount of value, building further on the support provided by the University. This year's entries represent a record for the University and for the Converge Challenge, with a number of very impressive businesses amongst the University's entries. Hopefully there's another FanDuel or pureLiFi amongst them. We'll see over the next few years and I'm sure the Converge Challenge will give them all a real boost at the start of their development."
Scotland’s flagship academic entrepreneurship initiative covers three categories - Converge, KickStart and Social Enterprise. The submissions received by the Converge Challenge organisers demonstrates the University of Edinburgh’s flair for proactively supporting and encouraging students and research staff to bring forward a plethora of strong ideas which focus on innovation, creativity and provide value and worth in areas such as healthcare, technology, medical devices, amongst others.
Converge Challenge Director, Dr Olga Kozlova said:
“This is the sixth year for the Converge Challenge programme and I am delighted to see several milestones reached. A third of our submissions are from female applicants. There has also been an increase in submissions across 17 of Scotland’s Universities and Research Institutes this year and this is so encouraging to help the continuous building of the entrepreneurial environment across our higher academic institutions.“
Converge Challenge remains Scotland’s premier entrepreneurial company creation competition with the largest first prize of cash - £100,000 and a comprehensive pledged business mentoring and training support package. The entrepreneurship start-up programme is funded by the eight Scottish research universities and the Scottish Funding Council, as well as receiving support from creative organisations such as Entrepreneurial Scotland.
For the participants there is now an anxious wait to see if they made it into the Elevator Pitch stage which will take place on the 2nd June at Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh, where they will deliver a 60 second pitch to a panel of judges, a hundred-strong audience and a ticking clock. Keynote speakers at this event are Chris van der Kuyl, Chairman of Entrepreneurial Scotland and Kerry Sharp, Head of Scottish Investment Bank, Scottish Enterprise. The overall winners will be announced at the Converge Challenge awards dinner in September.
Entrepreneurial Scotland Chairman, Chris van der Kuyl, Scottish entrepreneur and gaming visionary added:
“Scotland is on a never ending journey in its quest to uncover ambitious and creative thinkers from academic research and Converge Challenge is the ‘standard bearer’ for cutting edge innovation in our country. Just three months ago, Converge Challenge issued a clarion call to all Scottish Universities and research institutes to bring forward their ideas and here we are with 186 applications being considered for the next stage in June – the Elevator Pitch. This is a proactive and dynamic process which brings so much vibrant energy and creativity to the academic innovation process and Edinburgh can be proud of its endeavours.”
Since its first launch in 2010 Converge Challenge has grown every year attracting more and more of university-based entrepreneurs and enabling them to develop their entrepreneurial skills and explore commercial potential of their inventions. The programme delivers nearly 30% incorporation rate and 4 out of 5 of these businesses has gone on to secure follow-on funding. The organisers are looking forward to see what this record year is going to bring.