Four Heriot-Watt entrepreneurs announced as Converge 2023 finalists



Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo

Heriot-Watt University, renowned for its global reach and groundbreaking innovation in teaching, research and enterprise, has four projects shortlisted in this year’s Converge 2023 final.

Fantasy Fibre Mill connects regenerative agriculture to ethical fashion, producing natural fibre yarn which is grown, processed and spun in the UK. Its Field to Fabric innovation, developed by Rosemary Bristow, has made the final of this year’s Create Change Challenge category. The startup uses Micro-Mill machinery to transform carbon sequestering flax into strong linen yarn and fabric which is durable, non toxic, and compostable and can be used in textile and garment manufacturing.

In the Converge Challenge category, telecommunications startup, INFINECT, co-founded by Samuel Rotenberg, is developing reliable antenna technology that enables high speed internet connection anywhere on the planet, including on aeroplanes and in remote locations, using cutting-edge satellite infrastructure. 

Oleg Ishkov, founder of Rockit, and Darius Roman, co-founder of yaiLab, are both finalists in 2023’s Net Zero Challenge category. Oleg’s Rockit technology prevents leaks from subsurfaces to the atmosphere by protecting cement plugs used in drill wells from degradation - locking greenhouse gases deep underground. yaiLab has developed an AI-empowered platform which uses data to better estimate the health of large batteries used for grid applications and reduce battery degradation by up to 30%.

Professor Gillian Murray, deputy principal for enterprise and business, said:

“Scotland and its people are a nation of innovators and it's fantastic to see a breadth of Heriot-Watt talent make the final of this year’s Converge competition across three award categories.

“Our reputation for the practical application of knowledge and research is one which I’m particularly proud of at Heriot-Watt. Rosemary, Samuel, Oleg and Darius are fantastic examples of the entrepreneurial spirit which runs through our campuses and research facilities. Each showcases how we’re taking great ideas from lab to market to truly make a difference to global challenges.

“Having four Converge finalists is a demonstration of excellence in Enterprise and is the culmination of the hard work of our newly formed Enterprise Team which offers staff and students support on their Entrepreneurial Journey. I wish the all finalists good luck for the forthcoming event.”

Commenting on this year’s cohort announcement, Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, said:

“Our finalists demonstrate that Scotland’s universities are at the forefront of developing innovations that will help people and the planet while growing our economy.

“We selected our cohort of 100 start-ups and spinouts from a record 247 applicants back in May, just as the national innovation strategy was being unveiled.

“That alignment between the strategy’s objectives and the innovative ideas developed by our students, graduates, and researchers demonstrates the importance of Scotland’s universities and research institutes when it comes to fulfilling our nation’s ambitious goals.”

As part of this year’s programme, finalists from the Converge Challenge category will have the opportunity to travel to London to present their business ideas to investors and business leaders who can help them on their investment journey. 

The winners and runners-up of all four challenges will be named at the Converge awards ceremony in Glasgow on 4th October. 

Further information on the Converge website


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