Creative Converge Challenge
2018 finalists – Sam Chapman from Kenoteq

Heriot Watt has three projects shortlisted for the Impact Challenge and Converge Challenge categories. 

Around 60 aspiring entrepreneurs from across Scotland’s universities are now through to the next stage of Converge, Scotland’s leading academic enterprise programme. Semi-finalists will now be invited to attend three days of intensive, hands-on, business training which has been designed specifically to best prepare academic entrepreneurs in both start-up and spin-out companies.

In the Impact Challenge category is Research Associate, Faisal Ghani, with SolarisKit, an affordable, clean energy, solar collector that can be easily deployed and installed in developing countries due to it’s flat-pack design.

In the Converge Challenge category is Natantis, a project led by Associate Professor, Dr MaiWenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas that is aiming to become a world leader in sample preparation for liquid biopsy. Natantis’ lead product, CNASafe is a world-first as it automates and standardises the way in which samples are prepared for use in a variety of liquid biopsies.

Joining Dr Kersaudy-Kerhoas in the Converge Challenge category is Professor, Helen Hastie, with MIRIAM, an intelligent interface that enables remote robots to communicate more effectively with their human handlers about their goals, decisions and behaviour. This is important as a lack of trust and transparency is a key barrier to adoption and will be essential if robots are to take over critical tasks like driving, childcare and even military operations.

Nearly half of all semi-finalists this year are women entrepreneurs with Technology and Engineering and the Creative Industries some of the most represented sectors.

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge said:

“Converge thrives on ideas that are genuinely innovative and that have the ability to transform lives and this year our cohort has really pushed the boundaries with some truly ground-breaking projects. Nearly half of our semi-finalists are also women, an encouraging trend particularly in light of the recent Rose Review that has shed light on the huge untapped potential of UK women in business.

We are also seeing a growing trend towards ‘tech for social good’ with academic entrepreneurs harnessing the power of technology to create economic wealth while positively impacting our society and the environment. These pioneers are addressing some of the biggest global challenges of our time around water security, food production, pollution, climate change and healthcare in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. Dramatic change won’t be driven by traditional thinking so we need to mobilise our most entrepreneurial and creative minds to solve these problems and Converge provides the ideal platform to do this”.

In the next phase of the programme, semi-finalists will submit a business plan with the very best ideas going forward to the Converge 2019 final at the V&A Dundee on 25 September.

Image: Converge Challenge 2019