Final ten battle for Scotland's biggest start-up prize

Dr Olga Kozlova with the Converge Challenge trophy

A 'dress rehearsal' facility for surgeons, a new form of plastic that can purify water, and 'smart paint' that detects structural defects are among the top ten business ideas competing for Scotland's biggest start-up prize.

The short-listed applicants for Converge Challenge, whittled down from a record long-list of 50, include five from Edinburgh universities, four from Glasgow universities, and one from the University of Dundee.

Converge Challenge

Converge Challenge, run by Heriot-Watt University, gives students and members of staff of any Scottish university the chance to develop the commercial potential of their inventions with a four month-long series of business mentoring and training, before being short-listed for the final prize, £25k cash funding and a further £20k in-kind support from the private sector.

Olga Kozlova, creator of Converge Challenge, said, "New and existing SMEs are set to be a key driver in Scotland's economic recovery.

"Converge Challenge is about equipping people with the right skills and support they need to turn their academic research into a successful commercial venture.

"All ten short-listed entrants have a market-focussed product or service, and have demonstrated impressive commercial acumen and business planning.

Converge Challenge is about equipping people with the right skills and support they need to turn their academic research into a successful commercial venture

Dr Olga Kozlova

"Going by the number and quality of this year's entrants, Scotland's track record of nurturing home-grown entrepreneurs across life sciences, IT, design and other key sectors, looks set to continue."

In addition to the top ten, a special 'Entrepreneurial Spirit' award of £2,000 support has been awarded to Christine Watson, who is using her research into smart fabrics and heat-sensitive dyes to develop fashionable, water-proof garments, some of which may change colour as body heat alters, targeted primarily at music festival-goers.

This year, Converge Challenge has seen a record number of applicants, 50 from 14 separate institutions across Scotland, up 18% on the previous year.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Authority, university research led to the creation of 184 spin-offs in Scotland in 2010/11, up from 74 in 2008/9. With the Scottish Government considering how to ensure more public sector contracts go to SMEs, the opportunities for start-ups are grow

For more information on the  shortlisted applicants, visit the Converge Challenge website.