Nineteen 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 entrepreneurship start-up programme funded by eight Scottish Universities and the Scottish Funding Council.
A record number of entries
In total, a record number of 111 entries, almost double from the last year, has been received from across Scotland's university community this year and the quest to reach the Converge Challenge final which takes place later in the year, promises to be the most intense yet.
This year Converge Challenge is bigger than ever with dedicated training provided to over 50 budding entrepreneurs and record total funding pot of £68k in cash and £56k worth of business support.
Entries from Heriot-Watt University include a raft of business propositions to develop a variety of ideas. These include a non-invasive medical device to aid screening and diagnosis of prostate cancer, an app to manage hay fever, and a start-up which provides dairy products to students in Ghana.
Submissions for this year's Converge Challenge have increased by 83% on last year's total, which delights Converge Challenge Director, Olga Kozlova.
"This is the fifth year for the Converge Challenge programme and I am delighted to see more and more projects coming forward as the competition acts as a beacon for entrepreneurship among our scientists and students. This year Converge Challenge is bigger than ever with dedicated training provided to over 50 budding entrepreneurs and record total funding pot of £68k in cash and £56k worth of business support.
"As our economy continues on its road to recovery, it is crucial that we can keep the pipeline of innovative ideas coming forward from our university-based flowing and do our best to help the individuals develop them into successful profitable businesses."
Elevator Pitch stage
For the participants there is now an anxious wait to see if they made it into the Elevator Pitch stage which will take place on 3 June at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, when they have to deliver a 60 second pitch to a panel of judges, a hundred-strong audience and a ticking clock. And this would be just a small part of the tasks they have to complete before the winners are announced on 30 September at the awards dinner held at Heriot-Watt University.
Since its first launch in 2010 Converge Challenge has grown every year attracting more and more of university-based entrepreneurs and enabling them to develop their entrepreneurial skills and explore commercial potential of their inventions. The programme delivers nearly 30% incorporation rate and 4 out of 5 of these businesses has gone on to secure follow-on funding. The organisers are looking forward to see what this record year is going to bring.