Are you up for the 2015 Converge Challenge?



L-R: Mervyn Jones, Andrea Nolan, Fergus Ewing MSP and Veronica Ferguson

Converge Challenge, Scotland’s premier company-creation competition, has expanded its award categories for 2015, giving research staff and students, including those from Heriot-Watt University an even greater opportunity to challenge for the £100,000 prize fund including a comprehensive support and training package.

As well as expanding its categories, Converge Challenge is, for the first time, broadening its reach to embrace all university staff, undergraduates, postgraduates, as well as recent graduates (qualified in the past 12 months). Even if a fledgling business has been started and it has been trading for less than six months with sales of less than £50,000, then Converge Challenge is open to applications.

Aspirational entrepreneurs can participate in three main categories: Converge Challenge Award, KickStart Award and Social Enterprise Award. For the first time this year the Organisers have also added a fourth category, the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, a special award given to an entrant who possesses all the attributes of traditional entrepreneurs, creates value and has the willingness to take risk.

The Launch

Launched at the Royal Society of Edinburgh where Fergus Ewing MSP, The Business, Energy and Tourism Minister gave the keynote speech, the Converge Challenge seeks, therefore, to create entrepreneurs and develop the entrepreneurial mind-set.

Supporting the endeavours of Heriot-Watt University and Scotland’s other Higher Education Institutes involved in this year’s Converge Challenge, Mr Ewing said that Scotland has an education system with entrepreneurship and innovation at its core, based on ‘world leading strength from our universities’.

“Our young people are our greatest asset and it is crucial, perhaps more now than ever, that we see their economic potential unleashed.

“The Converge Challenge is a focal point within the Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem and makes clear our ambition with the vision of Scotland as a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation.

“The Scotland CAN DO framework was developed with public, private and third sector partners to further sharpen our focus on creating sustainable economic growth. We are determined to see more young people starting their own businesses in Scotland.”

Fergus Ewing MSP, The Business, Energy and Tourism Minister

The Benefits

Converge Challenge has engaged with 120 projects from 14 universities, from which around 30% went on to create companies, employing 73 individuals. Four out of five of these businesses have secured follow-on funding which currently stands at £10 million. The competition has attracted 260 applications, amongst them, Chris Leburn from Heriot-Watt, who participated in the 2012 Converge Challenge.

I can honestly say it was the best preparation anyone could have in wanting to ‘hit the ground running’ with their business idea.
Chris Leburn from Heriot-Watt and participant in the 2012 Converge Challenge

Chris comments, "The experience we gained from the Converge Challenge was invaluable and allowed us to genuinely believe we could take our research ideas into the commercial sector. It was the springboard that launched Chromacity out of the research labs and into a company that has now been developing and growing for over two years. There is a huge amount of enthusiasm, business experience, expertise and mentoring support that goes with being part of the Converge Challenge process. I can honestly say it was the best preparation anyone could have in wanting to ‘hit the ground running’ with their business idea. "

Professor Julian Jones, Vice-Principal of Heriot-Watt University added, “Converge Challenge originated here at Heriot-Watt University and to watch it develop into a flagship national initiative has been inspirational. It brings a fresh perspective to all who participate in it, and helps them to achieve and maintain the highest level of business know-how.

"I believe that within the Schools of our University you will find some of the brightest and best academic entrepreneurs in Scotland. I therefore predict that we’ll see a rise in applications from Heriot-Watt and a very good chance that one of the University’s applications will be crowned Converge Challenge Champion in September."

The Converge Challenge 2015 opens 26 February. Full details and how to enter can be found at

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