Heriot-Watt academics bid to become Scotland's leading entrepreneurs

Thirteen potential businesses from Heriot-Watt University are each aiming to land the £60,000 first prize of cash and pledged support package on offer in this year's Converge Challenge, the annual programme funded by eight Scottish Universities and the Scottish Funding Council to give students and staff from all Scottish universities and research institutes the chance to exploit the commercial potential of their inventions.

Record number of entries

A record number of 60 entries have been received from across Scotland's university community this year and the Heriot-Watt University entrants face stiff competition to win this highly regarded award. A number of Heriot-Watt entries are business propositions in the field of green technologies including recovering high value waste from the food and drink industry, new materials for water monitoring and treatment, coloured solar panels, low cost energy converter and household devices for reducing energy consumption.

The importance of the Converge Challenge has been acknowledged by John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, who will be the keynote speaker at the final to be held on 24th September.

""The Converge Challenge programme represents an opportunity for Scotland's students and researchers to develop their knowledge and commercial skills, while providing them with the validation and confidence they require to encourage their entrepreneurial spirit. The growth that Converge Challenge has enjoyed over the past four years is testament to how important competitions like this have become in university circles."

Submissions for this year's Converge Challenge have increased by 20% on last year's total, which delights Converge Challenge Director, Olga Kozlova.

"The number of entrants reached this year has surpassed our expectations as Scotland's universities and research community continue to unearth some fantastic business ideas, innovations and inventions amongst its students and staff.

"For such a small country, we can be proud of our ability to continuously create and innovate. It appears to be something embedded within our higher education population that we manage to produce so many budding entrepreneurs looking to further crystallise their ideas into proper businesses. Entries have been received from a variety of disciplines right across the higher education landscape. We now have the task of whittling these entries down to a short-list of 30, before the Elevator Pitch stage on 6th June at the Royal Society of Edinburgh."

Elevator Pitch

At the Elevator Pitch stage, a panel of judges - highly respected figures from the Scottish business community - will review each entrant as they participate in a 60 second pitch. From there 30 participants will go through a further two stages to battle it out to be crowned Converge Challenge winners at a gala dinner being held in September.

About Converge Challenge

Converge Challenge is only in its fourth year but is attracting a growing number of applicants year-on-year. As well as the largest cash prize of its type available, it gives students and members of staff of any Scottish university and research institute access to training and support to develop their entrepreneurial skills and explore commercial potential of their inventions. This year's entries cover a wide range of innovative businesses, from consumer products and novel drugs, to renewable energy devices, web applications and service based businesses.

Supported by the SFC and  eight research universities

The Scottish Funding Council has pledged £525,000 of funding over the next three years, in addition to Scotland's eight research universities pledging financial support to the tune of £360,000 over the same period, as Scotland's flagship entrepreneurial business competition continues to flourish.

Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, St Andrews, Stirling and Strathclyde universities are all jointly funding the training and prizes for Converge Challenge which is open to all Scottish Universities and Research Institutes.