£150,000 Converge Challenge competition winners announced

Susanne Mitchske

Converge Challenge, the company creation competition and start up development programme for staff, students, and recent graduates of Scottish Universities announced its winners at its annual awards ceremony.

The first place prize of Converge Challenge 2016 has been jointly awarded to MindMate and MicroSense Technologies Ltd.

The first place prize, valued at £71,000, includes £43,000 in cash and £28,000 worth of business support will be split between the joint winners.

MindMate led by Susanne Mitchske of University of Glasgow is an assistance platform for people with dementia, their caregivers and family members.

MicroSense Technologies Ltd is led by Professor Marc Desmulliez of Heriot-Watt University, a service company based on the patented product called FoodSense, a microwave based sensor system for the Food & Drink industries.

Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said:
“My congratulations to all the winners, the finalists and the participants of Converge Challenge 2016 for raising the bar yet again. This is the first time we have had a joint first place and it is testament to the quality of this year’s finalists.

The second place prize was awarded to Chris Hughes of University of Strathclyde with Estendio, a company aiming to revolutionise the educational development of dyslexics throughout the world by delivering innovative software products and services. They take home a total prize fund of £29,000, including £15,000 in cash and £14,000 in business support.

New for 2016, to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, was a prize valued at £24,500 including £10,000 in cash and £14,000 in business support for Design and Creativity that was awarded to Dr Alexander Enoch of University of Edinburgh with Robotical Ltd, a company that creates robots that inspire and engage the next generation of engineers and scientists.

The KickStart prize, for early stage ideas, was awarded to Dr David Harris-Birtill of University of St Andrews with Beyond Medics Ltd: Automated Remote Pulse Oximetry, a camera-based system that remotely measures patients’ vital signs. He receives a cash prize of £3,000. An additional award for the KickStart finalists was the KickStart Digital Entrepreneur Award, recognising internet entrepreneurialism and the online marketing talent of the finalists’ early-stage ideas. The winner was chosen by an online vote that was open to the public in the weeks leading up to the final and was awarded to Richard McAdam from Edinburgh Napier University with Regenerative Shock Absorber, an innovative shock absorber that generates electricity and reduces fuel consumption and harmful emissions.

In collaboration with Firstport, the Social Enterprise category focused on ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues. The first place prize of £5,000 cash was awarded to Erika Grant of University of Aberdeen with Project TurnKey, a social enterprise that empowers people to see a life beyond prostitution.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award sponsored by Entrepreneurial Scotland recognises the participant that has demonstrated drive, focus and determination. The cash prize of £1,000 was awarded to Anna Renouf of University of the Highlands & Islands with Orrin Equestrian Ltd, a company that is developing a pioneering new saddle, produced from composite materials that will offer enhanced comfort for the horse and rider, allowing them to work to their maximum potential.

The 2016 Converge Challenge programme has been the most successful to date with 17 of Scotland’s universities represented, among 212 applications. This was a record number of applicants and represents 14% growth year on year. Applications were received from undergraduates (30%), postgraduates (40%) and staff (30%) and increased applications for both the KickStart (34%) and the Social Enterprise award categories (14%).

Applications for Converge Challenge 2017 will launch online in February 2017 at: www.convergechallenge.com and can be a product or service, in any industry sector and at any stage.