Entrepreneur organisations collaborate to bring together innovative event

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John Swinney

A collaborative event between Converge Challenge, Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) and Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) will take place next week (Thursday 2nd June) at RBS Gogarburn, Edinburgh.

The keynote speech of ‘Educational Journey of An Entrepreneur’ will be delivered by John Swinney, Deputy First Minister for Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills building on the ScotlandCanDo agenda.

The innovative event is the first of its kind aimed at universities, colleges, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, investors and, of course, entrepreneurs.

The event will provide a response to the call from the Scottish Government to deliver a step change in entrepreneurial support within tertiary education.

The morning event, hosted by Mark Easton, BBC News home editor, will investigate how those in tertiary (post-secondary) education in Scotland can work together to support the next generation of entrepreneurs at every stage of their educational journey whether at college or university.. Each of the collaborative organisations will demonstrate how they support enterprising education and expand beyond the concept of starting a business and encouraging students in Scotland to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

Speakers will also include Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of the Converge Challenge; Fiona Godsman, CEO of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise; Geoff Leask, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Scotland; James McIlroy, CEO of EuroBiotix, an award winning social enterprise tackling unmet clinical needs in microbiota therapy and a final high profile keynote speaker is still to be announced.

The event will feature inspirational stories from successful entrepreneurs who have “been there and done it” as well as early stage projects. These inspiring journeys will feature: Tom Walkinshaw, PocketQube Shop (Alba Orbital Ltd) – lowering the cost of launching satellites; Rebecca Pick, Personal Guardian a lone detection worker and personal alarm; Steliana Radu, early idea stage college student; Dr Christopher Leburn, Chromacity Ltd – the laser company that will provide biologists with a radical new light source for laser-scanning microscopy; and Siobhan Mackenzie, Bespoke Kilts – Bringing Scottish Dress into the 21st century by breaking the rules of tradition with innovation within design.

The afternoon will begin with the Young Enterprise Scotland Innovator Challenge showcasing the start of an entrepreneurial journey. Primary 6 & 7 pupils from local schools will create a futuristic invention and present this on the main stage in the form of an advert and jingle.

The day will culminate with the annual Converge Challenge Elevator pitch competition showcasing the final top 30 Converge Challengers of 2016 who will take to the stage in front of a live audience of around 300 attendees. Participants will have just one minute each to convince the judging panel of industry experts that the idea presented has the potential to transform lives and kick start a business reality.

Last year’s winner, Daniel Good, Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, together with Steven Hammer, a post-doctoral researcher at Heriot-Watt University won with The E-Finger, a probe which can measure the stiffness of the prostate gland in men which determines diseased areas of the prostate and aid screening and diagnosis of prostate cancer and benign growth.

This is a thrilling opportunity to see the best projects developed by students, graduates and staff from the country’s universities and research institutes in action. It is all to “pitch” for as this year Converge Challenge has an increased total prize of £150,000. Guest speakers will include: Susan Fouquier, Regional Managing Director, Business Banking Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Dr Deborah Buckley-Golder, Head of Research Engagement, Innovate UK.

There will also be an exhibition on the day featuring the top 30 finalists and many of the support organisations offering great networking opportunities.

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