Converge Challenge Open Innovation competition

L-R: Councillor Frank Ross, Convener of Economy Committee, City of Edinburgh Council, Madhu Nair and Philip Benson, SACCADE Diagnostics and Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge.

Two start - up companies, SACCADE Diagnostics (University of Aberdeen) and UXCam (University College, London) have picked up awards for Best Open Innovation Business and Best Open Innovation Business Idea at an event organised by Heriot-Watt University.

The winners saw off teams of national and international entrepreneurs from five European countries in the final of Converge Challenge Open Innovation held at The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

SACCADE's technology which is looking to commercialise a pioneering eye movement test which helps identify specific disease states and UXCam, which allows user-experience designers (UX designers) to capture real-time data in real world scenarios, have been awarded four-figure cash prizes, both triumphing in an intense final against six other start-up businesses from the continent.

The competition  

Converge Challenge Open Innovation is a trans-national initiative for university participants and was borne from a need to stimulate the collaborative process on a pan-European knowledge - share, innovation and ideas from a broad range of external sources.

It is carried out in partnership with local governments, universities, business support services, and other public bodies to deliver programme of activities across the UK, France, Germany, Ireland and Belgium.

The nominating organisations for this year's event included University College London, Laval Technopole, France; VOKA, East-Flanders' Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Belgium; Somerset City Council, University of Kassel, Germany ; National College of Ireland, Dublin ; IRSEEM/ESIGELEC, Rouen and the Converge Challenge.

The business ideas

The business ideas were equally diverse, including a company addressing a novel and pioneering way of advertising on Facebook, another commercialising a pioneering eye movement test which helps identify specific disease states and a software solution that processes 3D sensor data for stereoscopic Kinect sensors.

In both categories, companies were judged on were judged on Innovation Level, Stage of Development, Market Opportunity and Use of Open Innovation.

Today, there is an incredibly strong entrepreneurial spirit among students and staff, which is apparent in the innovative and commercially minded business ideas that are showcased through Open Innovation across Europe
Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge  

"Today, there is an incredibly strong entrepreneurial spirit among students and staff, which is apparent in the innovative and commercially minded business ideas that are showcased through Open Innovation across Europe," said Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge.

"What is so important is that Open Innovation allows organisations to think way beyond the parameters of their own - often limited - internal resources. If they are looking to develop new products, services and create other new revenue streams, they don't need to be impinged in any way. They can have access to a myriad of other practical solutions which helps them gain a fresh outlook on the way forward", she added.

As stated, Governments at local and national level across Europe are helping to drive the concept of open innovation.

Cllr Frank Ross, Convener of Economy Committee, City of Edinburgh Council, a key supporter of the Open Innovation competition said: "This event provides an exciting opportunity to hear young entrepreneurs from several regions of Europe. To have them competing in Edinburgh for the best Open Innovation idea and business awards is inspiring. We are delighted to be lead partner in the Open Innovation Project."

As we have made clear in our Strategy for Jobs, we must nurture entrepreneurial talent and this event is an exemplar project which complements the incubators projects already set up in the City. "

The Open Innovation Project is funded by the INTERREG IVB North-West Europe Programme.