By Press Office 08 February 2016

Scotland’s leading company creation competition and start up development programme for students, graduates and staff from the country’s universities and research institutes is today (Monday 8 February) launching its 2016 programme – its biggest to date with new partnerships and a new award to attract a wider range of applicants.

In celebration of Scotland's Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, Converge Challenge is dedicating a £10,000 cash prize to a new Converge Challenge Design and Creativity Award. The debut of the award is aimed at encouraging ideas in digital media, textiles, architecture and design which could be a product, process or a service.

In addition, Converge Challenge announces new partnerships in 2016 with RBS, Mazars, Badenoch & Clark that will see the total prize fund and training increase to £150,000. RBS will be a key partner, providing support across all areas of Converge Challenge as well as business mentoring. Mazars, one of Europe’s largest accounting firms will provide finance and accounting business support and Badenoch & Clark will support the winners with recruitment solutions. BQ Live, a leading business publication that celebrates entrepreneurship, will be a media partner in 2016 providing ongoing profile of Converge Challenge .

Converge Challenge is now recognised as the leading opportunity for students, recent graduates and academic staff across the Higher Education sector. During the last four years, Converge Challenge has trained more than 120 entrepreneurs and formed 51 companies that have secured £15 million of funding and are employing 139 staff, making an important contribution to Scotland’s economy.

In 2015 Queen Margaret University had two alumni that were shortlisted into award categories, one of which was a finalist for the Social Enterprise award: Felix Schaeffler, Fitvoice.

Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said:

“This an exciting year for Converge Challenge with our biggest prize fund to date and an ambitious development programme . We are delighted to welcome our new partners on board; they each bring a wealth of experience from their respective sectors that will equip our next generation of entrepreneurs to create companies that will have an impact for Scotland .

“At Converge we work with any industry sector, product or service-based idea and we are thrilled to announce the Design and Creativity award, to celebrate the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. We are confident the new award will encourage a wide range of applications that will uncover yet more great examples of Scottish innovation among our Higher Education population.”

Successful Converge Challenge applicants participate in entrepreneurial development throughout the competition. Through intensive training, mentoring, pitching experience, business surgeries and ongoing support, participants can ultimately develop a comprehensive business plan for their company, product and/or service. An expert panel of judges made up of industry experts, leading entrepreneurs and investors from across the business community will then assess the projects and select the winners of the prestigious Converge Challenge awards.

Converge Challenge 2016 winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in September.


Richard Walker, Photon Force Ltd, Converge Challenge Winner 2015 – University of Edinburgh

“Converge Challenge has provided an immense opportunity for Photon Force. From the application process, which made us understand what was involved in operating a business in our field to developing a business plan that would achieve results. On top of this, access to an extensive suite of training and mentoring. Converge Challenge has helped put us on the path to entrepreneurial success!”

Rebecca Pick, Personal Guardian, Converge Challenge Third Prize 2015 – University of Strathclyde

"Being part of Converge 2015 was a fantastic experience. So much is on offer from meeting fantastic people, developing your business skills and ultimately gaining a package of financial and non-financial support to help grow your business. I cannot thank Converge enough for what it has done for my business Pick Protection."

Susan Fouquier , Regional Managing Director Business Banking Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland said:

“The Royal Bank of Scotland is delighted to partner this year’s Converge Challenge. Enterprise and entrepreneurship are key drivers of the Scottish economy and it offers an opportunity to bring together the very best of our commercial, Higher Education and research sectors to create further opportunity in Scotland. We look forward to working with this year’s Converge Challengers and wish everyone the greatest success.”

Converge Challenge is now open for applications and closes on Monday 18 th April at 5pm GMT. To enter visit www.convergechallenge.com

Converge Challenge will be hosting information events throughout Scotland:

Tuesday 9 February – Elevator, Aberdeen
Wednesday 10 February – Royal Society of Edinburgh, Edinburgh

Thursday 11 February – Royal Bank of Scotland, Glasgow

To register for any of these events, visit the Eventbrite page:

http://convergechallenge.com/en/content/converge-challenge-2016-launches-early-february

Notes to Editor

Further enquiries

Julie Griffin 0141 548 5191 / 07736 298669 / julie@sprengandco.com

Spreng & Co

Notes:

Website: www.convergechallenge.com

Twitter: @ConvergeC

Launched in 2010 by Dr Olga Kozlova, Converge Challenge is a high profile pan-Scotland company creation competition and entrepreneurship development programme for staff, students, and recent graduates of Scottish Universities and Research Institutes aimed at creating a new generation of entrepreneurs in Scotland.

Converge Challenge has three core categories:

  • Converge Challenge
  • KickStart: for early stage ideas
  • Social Enterprise : positive impact on social and environmental issues

Applications can be for a product or service, from any industry sector and at any stage of the development.

Converge Challenge is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and eight research-intensive universities (Heriot-Watt University, University of Strathclyde, University of Glasgow, University of Stirling, University of Edinburgh, University of St Andrews, University of Aberdeen and University of Dundee).

Sponsor and partners

  • RBS
  • Mazars
  • Badenoch & Clark
  • Murgitroyd
  • BQ Live
  • Informatics Ventures
  • Morton Fraser
  • Mortonward
  • Fearsome
  • Entrepreneurial Scotland

Queen Margaret University Converge Challenge alumni include:

  • 2015: 2 QMU alumni made it onto the shortlist award categories.
  • 2015 Social Enterprise finalist: Felix Schaeffler, Fitvoice - an affordable, smartphone-assisted voice care service.

Converge Challenge 2015

Winner

Photon Force – Richard Walker, University of Edinburgh

 

2nd place

Elasmogen – Caroline Barelle, University of Aberdeen

 

3rd place

Personal Guardian – Rebecca Pick, University of Strathclyde

 

KickStart Winner

Xi software – Salman Tahir, University of Edinburgh

 

Social Enterprise Winner

EuroBiotix – James McIlroy, University of Aberdeen

 

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award Winner

Hannah Dimsdale, Teadough, University of Edinburgh.

 

KickStart Digital Entrepreneur Award

MindMate – Susanne Mitschke, University of Glasgow

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