Search begins to discover inspiring entrepreneurs from across Scotland’s Universities

February 8, 2017

The quest to find the next generation of entrepreneurs from Scotland’s thriving academic entrepreneur community is underway once again. Converge Challenge alumni launched the 2017 programme at the University of St Andrews challenging every Scottish university to uncover the next big idea.

Converge Challenge is open until Monday 10th April at 5pm. To enter visit www.convergechallenge.com

In 2017, the total prize fund is valued at over £150,000. In addition to a cash prize, winning projects receive a comprehensive business support package from selected partner organisations. 

Highlights include:

  • Automatic eligibility to pitch to investors at EIE 2018.

  • Royal Bank of Scotland will provide winners with a "money can’t buy" package that includes their Innovation Gateway programme, access to the Open Innovation Centre in Edinburgh, a range of free cloud services and access to their global technology partner network.

  • Business support from Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for start-up social entrepreneurs in the Social Enterprise category.

Who can apply? 
Converge Challenge is open to staff, students and recent graduates. Ideas can be for a product, process or a service, at any stage of development and from any industry sector.

Hands-on training
Participants take part in an intensive entrepreneurial development programme that includes:

  • 1-2-1 bespoke advice and support
  • mentoring
  • pitching experience
  • networking opportunities

Participants develop and submit a business plan. An expert panel made up of leading entrepreneurs and investors will assess the business plans and select the winners. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at Glasgow Science Centre in September.

Three award categories 
Converge Challenge brings together the most ambitious and creative thinkers from any Scottish Higher Education Institute (HEI). It offers three award categories.

  • Converge Challenge: for those with an established idea
  • KickStart: for early stage ideas
  • Social Enterprise: for ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues

Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said:

This year every Scottish university is tasked with uncovering the next big idea and as a female entrepreneur I would like to personally encourage more women to apply in 2017. Following an increase in applicants for both the KickStart and Social Enterprise award categories both prize funds have been increased to £10,000 encouraging entrepreneurship at every stage.

Converge Challenge
Celebrating the Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology successful Converge Challenge alumni launched the 2017 programme at the University of St Andrews. The university was founded in 1413 and is recognised as one of the ancient universities in Scotland. Credit: Alan Richardson

Previous winners
In 2016, MindMate and MicroSense Technologies Ltd were announced as joint winners of the main Converge Challenge award. 

Susanne Mitschke, MindMate, University of Glasgow said:

In 2015 Patrick, Roger and I had an idea and we entered Converge Challenge KickStart category. We were young, optimistic and thought that starting a business would be easy. We quickly learned there was a lot to consider and you can easily get distracted from what is really important and what makes a difference. The Converge training helped us to focus on what matters to our business.

When we entered Converge in 2016 for the second time, we had come a long way with funding from Ignite in the UK and Techstars NYC in the US. Our Converge prize has made a meaningful difference; not only from a cash-perspective, but from the in-kind business services we’ve received. We are now getting expert branding advice from the awesome agency Morton Ward, as well as legal advice and IP services. Whether you are a start-up or you just have an idea Converge can support you.

Between 2011-2015, the initiative has trained 240 emerging entrepreneurs that have formed 62 Converge companies and secured over £39 million of follow-on funding. 4 out of 5 Converge companies have secured follow-on funding and 80% are still trading after three years.

Businesses established through Converge Challenge have, to date, created 175 new jobs. This success can be attributed to its comprehensive business training programme delivered by an expert team that focuses on developing the key skills required to create a company. Participants and winners also receive advice and expertise from leading partner organisations on services that include: legal, finance, branding, product development and recruitment as well as networking and mentoring opportunities.

Converge Challenge is open until Monday 10th April at 5pm. To enter visit www.convergechallenge.com

 

Celebrating the Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology successful Converge Challenge alumni launched the 2017 programme at the University of St Andrews. The university was founded in 1413 and is recognised as one of the ancient universities in Scotland.