Four QMU innovators have sights set on finals of entrepreneurship programme

By Press Office

Four budding innovators from Queen Margaret University (QMU) are among the semi-finalists in a Scotland-wide entrepreneurship programme, each hopeful that their pioneering idea will take them one step closer to the finals and the top prize of £10,000.

The Converge Challenge KickStart programme, sponsored by RBS, is aimed at early-stage projects and offers individually tailored advice to support the first steps of the entrepreneurial journey. It equips participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to develop an idea and get it ‘market ready’.

Among the semi-finalists are QMU’s Martin Craig (MA Arts Festival and Cultural Management), Jaspal Couhan (MSc Physiotherapy), Chee-Wee Tan (Lecturer in Physiotherapy), and Jake Elliott-Hook (BSc Psychology and Sociology). The four applicants have been supported by QMU’s Business Development Manager, as part of QMU’s efforts to foster a culture of entrepreneurship.

Martin Craig’s project is called the ‘Sculpture Placement Programme’. This is an adoption scheme for sculptures with no current future. SAS matches these works with new custodians, saving them from premature destruction and making them available to new audiences many of whom are not, or cannot access contemporary visual art.

Chee-Wee Tan’s entry to the programme is called ‘Vigor Bio’, which is a non-invasive ear-worn electrical stimulator that helps to relieve fatigue for people with long-term illnesses.

Jaspal Chouhan’s idea – ‘SmartStep’ - is an app which helps people with Parkinson’s Disease who suffer from ‘freezing’, a symptom where the individual freezes in the middle of an action such as walking or is unable to initiate a movement.

Jake Elliot Hook’s project – ‘YAIA’ - is for the development of a reusable double-ended water bottle made from wheat fibre.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Interim Director of Converge Challenge, is delighted with the scope and variety of this year’s entrants, commenting that these early stage ideas are a testament to a continuing confidence amongst staff and students across Scotland’s Universities that an entrepreneurial mind-set can turn the ‘kernel’ of an idea into a transformative business.

“Submissions for the 2019 KickStart programme has surpassed all our expectations, not just in the number of applications received, but in the quality and creativity of the ideas,” she said. “We’ve now refined the entries and have selected a cohort of innovators who will undergo entrepreneurial skills training that will help them to develop practical business management and enterprise skills to get their ideas to the next level.

“As KickStart is based around early stage development ideas, entrants may have limited experience of the practicalities of starting or running a business. However, the training they undertake offers them the chance to develop their first business plan, an essential element in the journey of any entrepreneur.”

Claudia continued: “We are delighted that Scotland’s Higher Education sector is strongly committed to developing entrepreneurship, helping to crystallise these early stage business ideas and contributing to Scotland’s economy. We are thrilled with such a strong cohort of projects and look forward to working with them in the months ahead.”

The candidates will now be invited to attend a two-day training programme taking place in Edinburgh next month with the chance to submit their business case in February. The shortlisted KickStart projects will then be assessed by an external judging panel with the winning projects announced at the KickStart Awards in March.

A £10,000 cash prize awaits the winner and £5,000 will go to the runner-up.

Notes to Editor

For further media information please contact Karen Keith (Media Relations and Content Officer) at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: T: 0131 474 0000.

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