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Principal Steve Chapman with 2011's Converge Challenge winner.
Last year's Converge Challenge winner, Adam Brown, with Heriot-Watt Principal Professor Steve Chapman

Heriot-Watt University has launched Converge Challenge, a unique business development training programme offering entrepreneurial academics and students with ambitions of starting their own company, the opportunity to submit their business proposals and win a £45,000 funding package to turn their ideas from a dream into a viable reality – and a full-time job.

Developing entrepreneurship

Open to every university in Scotland, Converge Challenge has been specifically designed to boost and support Scotland’s budding entrepreneurs by providing a platform for developing the valuable practical experience and pitching skills required to start up a business. The programme also opens up access to a network of peers with the chance to benefit from their comprehensive support, coupled with legal and financial assistance.

Olga Kozlova, Enterprise Creation Manager at Heriot-Watt University who is responsible for Converge Challenge, said: “Scotland has a proven track record of successful entrepreneurs but there are many more out there looking for a way to get their ideas off the ground.

“Converge Challenge is about providing applicants with the skills and support they need to develop the commercial potential of their inventions. It also provides a framework to harness and guide their innovative ideas into a viable business and even a potential future employer.”

Last year's winner

Converge Challenge is about providing applicants with the skills and support they need to develop the commercial potential of their inventions. It also provides a framework to harness and guide their innovative ideas into a viable business and even a potential future employer

Olga Kozlova, Enterprise Creation Manager at Heriot-Watt University

Adam Brown, founder of Bellrock and winner of Converge Challenge 2011, said: “Converge Challenge was a great opportunity to stress-test our business plan and refine our strategy to commercialise Lumen®.

“Since winning, the in-kind support has been extremely useful in preparing Bellrock Technology for spinout and its first customer contracts. The coaching and mentoring support has, in particular, helped to clarify my role in the business and has encouraged me to broaden my responsibilities., I believe that contacts I have made through the competition will prove invaluable to the long-term success of the business. Overall, I would strongly encourage anyone with a new business idea to get involved in this year's competition.”

Invaluable to Scotland

John Anderson, Chief Executive of the Entrepreneurial Exchange welcomed the news of the launch. He said: “Projects like Converge Challenge are invaluable to the development of entrepreneurship in Scotland. Anyone taking part in the competition will be provided with the training, knowledge and confidence that are essential to be successful in the business world, as well as the chance to win vital start-up capital."

Converge Challenge is about providing applicants with the skills and support they need to develop the commercial potential of their inventions. It also provides a framework to harness and guide their innovative ideas into a viable business and even a potential future employer.”

Converge Challenge is open to ideas from all market sectors, for product or service-based innovations across all stages of development from concept to completion. Based on a knock out, four-stage elimination process, applicants will be tested on a range of skills, which will support their efforts in developing abilities in strong market engagement and commercial awareness and targeting.

Achievements of Converge Challenge

Since first launching in 2010, Converge Challenge has:

  • Received over 80 applications from nine universities across Scotland
  • Trained over 50 research entrepreneurs
  • Seen over 350 staff and students attend associated seminars and workshops
  • Supported five companies into commercial trading, four to reaching the stage of incorporating and eight others on the path to incorporating
  • Developed two new products and
  • Created two full-time jobs

Converge Challenge has the highest cash prize in Scotland, providing the winner with £25k cash funding and a further £20k in-kind support from the private sector in the form of training, mentoring and business assistance.

How to take part

To take part in Converge Challenge 2012, interested entrepreneurs should email fill out the application on the Converge Challenge page