Converge Challenge 2017 launches



The search begins to discover inspiring entrepreneurs from Heriot-Watt University.

The quest to find the next generation of entrepreneurs from Scotland's thriving academic entrepreneur community is underway once again. Converge Challenge today launched the 2017 programme challenging every Scottish university to uncover the next big idea.

Between 2011-2015, the initiative has trained 240 emerging entrepreneurs that have formed 62 Converge companies and secured over £39 million of follow-on funding. Converge Challenge cements its position as the leading opportunity for Scotland's university based entrepreneurs as 4 out of 5 Converge companies have secured follow-on funding and 80% are still trading after three years. Businesses established through Converge Challenge have, to date, created 175 new jobs. 

In 2016, Heriot-Watt's Professor Marc Desmulliez was announced as joint winner of the main Converge Challenge prize with MicroSense Technologies Ltd, a sensor system aimed at reducing waste and improving process monitoring in food processing lines for the Food and Drinks industries. The prize included £30,000 in cash and £19,000 in-kind business support.  

“The Converge Challenge allowed MicroSense Technologies Ltd to benefit from a vast range of experts in entrepreneurship and commercialisation. The advice and training we received was of the highest quality.”

Professor Marc Desmulliez

In 2017, the total prize fund is valued at over £150,000. In addition to a cash prize, winning projects receive a comprehensive business support package from selected partner organisations including: 
- automatic eligibility to pitch to investors at EIE 2018.
- Royal Bank of Scotland remains a key partner for a second year and will provide winners with a money can't buy package that includes their Innovation Gateway programme, access to the Open Innovation Centre in Edinburgh, a range of free cloud services and access to their global technology partner network.
- continued support from Firstport, Scotland's development agency for start-up social entrepreneurs and social enterprise, providing ongoing business support and mentoring to the Social Enterprise category.

Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said:

“This year every Scottish university is tasked with uncovering the next big idea and as a female entrepreneur I would like to personally encourage more women to apply in 2017. Following an increase in applicants for both the KickStart and Social Enterprise award categories both prize funds have been increased to £10,000 encouraging entrepreneurship at every stage.

“Converge Challenge remains committed to developing ambitious entrepreneurs and helping them build a valuable network of contacts that helps them to grow their business on a global stage."

Converge Challenge offers three award categories. Converge Challenge: for those with an established idea; KickStart: for early stage ideas; and Social Enterprise: for ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues. It is open to staff, students and recent graduates and ideas can be for a product, process or a service, at any stage of development and from any industry sector. 

Converge Challenge is now open for applications and closes on Monday 10th April at 5pm GMT. To enter visit 

More Heriot-Watt highlights:

  • In 2016, Heriot-Watt University had an impressive six top 30 finalists of the main Converge Challenge award and one top 30 finalist in the KickStart category.
  • Converge Challenge finalists included: Professor Marc Desmulliez, MicroSense Technologies Ltd; Alistair McConnell, ExoMotion; Dr Gabriela Medero, KENOTEQ; Dr Helen Hastie, RobotAssure; Michael Harkins, Turtle Pack; and Dr Brian Miller, uFraction8
  • KickStart top 30 finalist: Gilan Booker, Benedict & Hott
  • Heriot-Watt University has a strong track record winning Converge Challenge prizes in 2011, 2012 and 2016.