Converge Challenge, Scotland's premier entrepreneurial competition has maintained its year on year growth since its inception in 2010, with a surge of applicants this year up 68% on the 2014 figure.
Scotland’s flagship academic entrepreneurship initiative covers three categories - Converge, KickStart and Social Enterprise. The submissions received by the Converge Challenge organisers demonstrates Scotland's Higher Education Institute's flair for proactively supporting and encouraging students, academics 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 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 eight Scottish universities and the Scottish Funding Council, as well as receiving support from creative organisations such as Entrepreneurial Scotland, whose Chairman is renowned Scottish entrepreneur and gaming visionary Chris van der Kuyl.
“Scotlandis 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."
Chris van der Kuyl, Entrepreneurial Scotland
Converge Challenge Director, Dr. Olga Kozlova adds;
“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 universities and research institutes this year and this encourages the continuous building of the entrepreneurial environment across our higher academic institutions.
"As our economy continues on its road to recovery, it is crucial that we can keep the pipeline of innovative ideas coming forward from our university-based flowing and do our best to help the individuals develop them into successful profitable businesses.”
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 Surgeons’ Hall in Edinburgh, when they have to deliver a 60 second pitch to a panel of expert 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. And this would be just a small part of the tasks they have to complete before the winners are announced on the 29th of September at the awards dinner held at The Barony, University of Strathclyde.
Laurence Howells, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council added his delight at the rise in this year's Converge Challenge applications.
“This is great news. This year’s record level of entries shows that more students and more staff at Scottish universities want to be entrepreneurial as well as academic.
“Previous Converge Challenges finalists - like Razorbill Instruments inFifewho have the technology to position objects with a billionth of a meter accuracy - are proving you can be successful if you can match innovation with real business acumen.”
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.
Source: Converge Challenge