Converge Challenge 2011 winner announced

Professor Steve Chapman, Principal of Heriot-Watt University presents Adam Brown, from the University of Strathclyde, with the Converge Challenge 2011 trophy

The winners of the Converge Challenge 2011, the national competition to find the best and brightest research entrepreneurs in Scotland, were announced at a prestigious dinner on 27 September.

The guidance and support I received through each stage has been invaluable and I would fully encourage anyone out there with an idea to enter this competition next year

Adam Brown, Converge Challenge 2011 winner

More than 40 applications were received in what was only the second year the competition has run. More people from more universities applied to take part and be in with a chance of winning £25,000 in cash and around £20,000 of in kind support.

Winner: Adam Brown, Bellrock (University of Strathclyde)

Adam Brown, from the Institute for Energy and Environment in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde won the top prize of £45,000 prize and is now preparing to spin-out his company, Bellrock.

Adam won after continually impressing the panel of judges with his idea and succinct business plan for 'Lumen Technology', an intelligent condition monitoring decision support software. The software will enable utilities companies to monitor the health and anticipated lifespan of their equipment as well as allow them to predict failures and schedule repairs in advance, resulting in improvements to efficiency, operational output and cost.

With the electricity network infrastructure having been in place for between 40-50 years, Lumen Technology has the potential to support companies and ultimately the public, in making significant financial savings which could reach into the millions.

Adam said of his victory: "I am absolutely delighted to have won Converge Challenge and feel really excited about what the future holds. It was extremely tough and I had never done anything like it before, but I now feel more confident about going out there and pitching my idea and hopefully turning it into a successful business.

"The guidance and support I received through each stage has been invaluable and I would fully encourage anyone out there with an idea to enter this competition next year. There is so much advice and information you learn that everyone comes away well equipped and in a stronger position to progress."

Second prize: Ahmed El-Rayis, SOFANT (Edinburgh University)

The success of Converge Challenge in attracting a high number of entries is testament to the hard work of the Heriot-Watt team and the aspiration of researchers from all over Scotland

John Anderson, Chief Executive of Entrepreneurial Exchange

The second prize went to a researcher from the School of Engineering at Edinburgh University.

Ahmed El-Rayis, co-founder of SOFANT Technologies, received a prize of nearly £12,000. SOFANT Technologies has designed and patented a new smart antenna technology that will increase signal strength and reduce transmitted power by up to 90%, leading to increased battery life for smart phones and portable devices. SOFANT aims to become a world-leader in supplying green and eco-friendly wireless solutions.

Arlene Campbell, one of the Converge Challenge judges, described the company on the night as having "...significant potential for future developments. This is a great opportunity to build a very profitable business."

Third prize: Dr Farid Amalou, AccuFluidics (Heriot-Watt University)

Third place went to Heriot-Watt University's Dr Farid Amalou, with his business plan, AccuFluidics. Dr Amalou takes £8,000 worth of prize money and training to develop his business further. AccuFluidics develops microfluidics devices and chips for the life sciences industry enabling significant reduction in costs and time and increase in accuracy of the medium and high throughput screening technologies.

Professor Andrew Porter, who was a judge and announced the winners on the night, said of Accufluidics: "The project has a strong IP background and will address a real market demand from the pharmaceutical industry."

Principal's Enterprise Award: Jonathan Millin, Infatics (Edinburgh University)

Jonathan Millin from the department of Computer Science at Edinburgh University won a Principal's Enterprise Award with his company, Infatics. Worth £1,000, these awards are given to those in order to further develop their business plan in areas including research and development, marketing and website development.

Infatics aims to revolutionise the outdoor advertising industry, allowing businesses to analyse and record who interacts with their advertising, and so revealing how effective their marketing strategy is. It is hoped the Jonathan and all the other four winners of this category will develop and re-enter their business plans in 2012, to again be in the running to win one of the top three prizes.

A  fantastic experience for research entrepreneurs

The awards were presented at a prestigious dinner held on 27 September, hosted by Steve Chapman, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University.

Adam is a worthy winner who excelled at each stage of the competition

Olga Kozlova, Enterprise Creation Manager at Heriot-Watt University

Olga Kozlova, Enterprise Creation Manager at Heriot-Watt University who was responsible for devising and delivering Converge Challenge, said: "Adam is a worthy winner who excelled at each stage of the competition and demonstrated a strong level of awareness and understanding of how he could turn his idea into a functioning enterprise. I wish him every success and hope that in time, he may share his knowledge and expertise with future generations of entrepreneurs."

John Anderson, Chief Executive of Entrepreneurial Exchange, welcomed the news. He said: "The success of Converge Challenge in attracting a high number of entries is testament to the hard work of the Heriot-Watt team and the aspiration of researchers from all over Scotland to explore ways of creating a business from their work. This is yet another example of the reality of what is happening every day in Scotland - there is no "lost generation" of entrepreneurs here!"

Eleanor Mitchell, Commercialisation Director at Scottish Enterprise, which supported the competition, said: "The Converge Challenge programme is a fantastic experience for research entrepreneurs, providing support and advice to build their confidence and skills and enabling them to work on turning their innovative ideas into an exciting business.

"The commercialisation of technologies that have developed from the truly innovative research in our universities is central to Scottish Enterprise's Commercialisation Team activities and we'll be providing continuing support to Adam and Bellrock a he grows his company in Scotland."