Converge Challenge 2016 opens with £150,000 prize fund

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Lesley Martin

Scotland’s leading company creation competition and start up development programme for students, graduates and staff from the country’s universities and research institutes has launching its 2016 programme.

This is the biggest Converge Challenge 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 and 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.

The increased total prize of £150,000 includes access to a broad range of expert support and training including legal support from Morton Fraser and patent and trademark expertise from Murgitroyd for successful “Converge Challengers”.

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.

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 said:

“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!”

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 18th 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

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