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Converge Challenge Award

Walker’s Photon picks up £60,000 Converge prize

Richard WalkerRichard Walker of Photon Force (left) picked up the £60,000 first prize as winner of the coveted Converge Challenge Award.

Photon, which emerged from Edinburgh University, beat off competition from five other finalists in the 6th annual award.

Mr Walker received the prize at a gala ceremony attended by 200 guests at The Barony Hall, University of Strathclyde.

The company creation competition is jointly funded by The Scottish Funding Council and Scotland’s eight research-intensive universities.

Mr Walker picks up £35,000 start-up funding, plus a further £25,000 in business support from Converge sponsors – legal firm Morton Fraser, patent attorneys Murgitroyd and accountants, Baker Tilly.

Photon Force will design, build and supply scientific sensors that can precisely detect and measure, single photons – the tiny building blocks of light.

In second place was Caroline Barelle with her company Elasmogen, from the University of Aberdeen. Her company will look to create the next generation of drugs for the treatment of disease.

Bra alarm Rebecca PickThird was Rebecca Pick (left)from the University of Strathclyde whose business Personal Guardian, a revolutionary personal attack alarm was exclusively revealed in Daily Business in June.

Tonight’s event produced four further winners: Salman Tahir from University of Edinburgh winning the KickStart Award with his company Xi software for protein cross-linking analysis.

Mr Tahir has identified a market opportunity for a specialist software that studies the cross-linking interactions in proteins to perform crucial data analysis of interest to molecular and structural biologists.

James McIlroy, from the University of Aberdeen picked up the Social Enterprise Award for his company EuroBiotix, a social enterprise company that aims to make a specialist alternative treatment for Clostridium difficile (C.diff), a common hospital-acquired infection, more accessible.

Hannah Dimsdale from the University of Edinburgh won the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award for her business idea, Teadough – a doughnut ‘recipe’ kit directly inspired by that one of her ancestors, Elizabeth Dimsdale, who invented the doughnut, back in 1803.

Susan Mitschke from the University of Glasgow won the KickStart Digital Entrepreneur Award for her business, MindMate, a fun and interactive app developed to ease life for those with dementia. MindMate has been designed and optimised specifically for elderly people and is based around world leading university research and consultation by Glasgow University’s Geriatric Medicine department.

Overall, this year, the prize fund extends well beyond £100,000 which includes a comprehensive support, mentoring and training package available to the winners.

To give an indication of scale and the exponential growth of Converge Challenge since its inception on 2010, the competition this year engaged with 17 of Scotland’s Universities and Research Institutes with entries up 68% on last year – the total amount of applicants standing at 186, up from 111 in 2014.

Since it was established in 2010, Converge Challenge has received more than 450 applicants covering all sectors, product and service-based businesses, commercial and social enterprises.

John SwinneyAddressing guests tonight, Deputy First Minister John Swinney (left) said: “Scotland’s schools, colleges and universities have a crucial role in helping our young people to realise their entrepreneurial potential.

“Converge is a great supporter of our Scotland CAN DO initiative. Investing in entrepreneurial education will mean that Scotland will be fostering the next generation of Scottish entrepreneurs and help the Higher Education sector fulfil its vision for Scotland to be a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation –  a CAN DO place for business.”

Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said: “Converge Challenge remains a great motivator to help encourage more academic staff and students to exploit the commercial potential of their inventions and continue our remarkable quest for technological innovation.

“This year has been quite exceptional. The diversity of applications from a wide geographical spread across Scotland universities and research institutes has shown our campuses remain full of inspirational innovators.

“They want to adopt Converge Challenge’s array of bespoke learning and business mentoring support programmes that forearm these budding entrepreneurs with the appropriate skill-sets to get their business idea off the ground.  I congratulate all our winners this year.”

Guest speaker, Professor David Lane, Founder of SeeByte, and director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, added his praise for the high calibre of Converge entrants.

“Scotland’s universities are fortunate to have academic competitions such as Converge Challenge. The business ideas seen at this year’s Converge event can help shape society in one way or another.

“From dynamic healthcare innovation, through wearable technology and a raft of ideas which, given the opportunity, have the ability to transform lives, we must heartily congratulate the calibre of innovation which makes Scotland a ‘can do’ country when it comes to cutting edge entrepreneurship.”

The judging panel was once again headed by Converge Challenge Chairman, Mervyn Jones, together with Anton Ziolkowski, Professor of Petroleum Geoscience at the University of Edinburgh, Gillian MacAulay, who established the Strathclyde University Incubator Limited (SUI) ) as one of the leading environments for young companies looking to develop and grow, Douglas Anderson, a healthcare technology product design and product commercialisation process specialist, Professor David Milne, founder of Wolfson Microelectronics and Mary Jane Brouwers, an Investment Executive at Archangels.

Converge Challenge attracts a growing number of applicants year-on-year. As well as the largest cash prize of its type available, it gives students and members of staff of any Scottish university and research institute access to training and support to develop their entrepreneurial skills and explore commercial potential of their inventions.

The six projects which made it through to the final stage for the Converge Challenge Award were:

Name

Title of the Project

University name

Caroline Barelle

Elasmogen Ltd – next generation drugs for the treatment of disease

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University of Aberdeen

Rebecca Pick

Personal Guardian – a revolutionary personal attack and lone worker alarm

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University of Strathclyde

Richard Walker

Photon Force Ltd – will design, build and supply scientific sensors that can very precisely detect and measure single photons, the tiny building blocks of light.

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University of Edinburgh

Alasdair Mort

MIME – Managing Information In Medical Emergencies

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University of Aberdeen

Steven Hammer

Palpation Diagnostics – diagnosing prostate disease

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Heriot-Watt University

William Whelan-Curtin

CONALTRA – will provide data centre optical transceivers that are both low power consumption and low cost.

University of St Andrews

 

The short-list for the Converge KickStart and Social Enterprise Awards were;

Name

Title of the Project

University name

Category Entered

Alexander Enoch

Red Robotics – Ultra low cost walking robots for education and hobbyists

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University of Edinburgh

KickStart

Angelos Spanos

Flexi-Scope – Debugging software solution for microchips

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University of Edinburgh

KickStart

Chris Hughes

Palm Present – Apps aimed to revolutionise the educational development of dyslexics

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University of Strathclyde

KickStart

Ganga Chinna Rao Devarapu

Smart Open Syringe Pump – A syringe pump that is compact, affordable, programmable, reusable and can be controlled with a smart phone

@Smartsyringpump

University of St Andrews

KickStart

Jordan Smith

PKT Jordan Smith Designs – Reliable and efficient packaging solution

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Glasgow School of Art

KickStart

Michael Harkins

Turtle Pack – A flotation device that helps children learning to swim

Learn More

Heriot-Watt University

KickStart

Susanne Mitschke

MindMate – An interactive app developed to ease life for those with dementia

Learn More

University of Glasgow

KickStart

Salman Tahir

Xi: cross-linking analysis software – Protein cross-linking analysis software

@salmantahir1

University of Edinburgh

KickStart

Scott Kennedy

Revive – An eco-friendly and sustainable solution for coffee shop waste

Learn More

University of Strathclyde

Social Enterprise

Joy Leckie

reallysmallscience – Interactive science and engineering workshops for children and adults

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University of Strathclyde

Social Enterprise

James McIlroy

EuroBiotix – A social enterprise that aims to make Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) more accessible in Europe

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University of Aberdeen

Social Enterprise

Mark Munro

The UK Change Charity – A UK digital charity box, collecting change from moneyless payment methods

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University of the West of Scotland

Social Enterprise

Robbie Norval

Lingo Flamingo – A language outreach project to assist in postponing the effects of dementia

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University of Stirling

Social Enterprise

Felix Schaeffler

Fitvoice – An affordable, smartphone-assisted voice  care service

Learn More

Queen Margaret University

Social Enterprise

Olga Szewczyk

Smoove – A GPS based app to help mobility impaired users navigate their surroundings

Learn More

University of Strathclyde

Social Enterprise

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