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Kickstart 2019

Record applications for innovation competition

Olga Kozlova and Claudia Cavalluzzo

Claudia Cavalluzzo (right) with now-departed director Olga Kozlova at this year’s ceremony (pic: Terry Murden)


Scotland’s academic entrepreneurial eco-system has produced 33 early stage business ideas within sight of reaching the final of the Converge Challenge KickStart 2019 programme next March.

KickStart is part of Converge Challenge, the company creation programme for staff, students and recent graduates of Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. A £10,000 cash prize awaits the winner and £5,000 will go to the runner up.  

The creative Industries provide the highest increase in applicants for KickStart, up 59% on last year, with the engineering and technology, life sciences, tourism and textiles industries also well represented.

Ideas range from innovators looking to build affordable, 3D printed prosthetic arms through to touch screens powered by solar energy.

Amongst them, Rajesh Kumar Plamthottathil from The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, working on his project TrackGenesis, a Blockchain based, AI powered software platform for the food and drink industry. This will enable organisations to fully digitize physical assets and track them from production to delivery to increase supply chain transparency.

Lucy Kerr from Glasgow School of Art has created Wet Blue – a recycling project that investigates ways that waste produce from leather production can be re-used and turned into a sustainable alternative to paper made from wet blue hide shavings. Wet Blue is sparking a movement towards the future of design materiality being centred around utilising the world’s waste.

iOembedded, a venture created by Heriot-Watt University student Alexander Bowen, has developed a sensor technology ‘IOsight’ set to  transform the smart home by using  gesture control and environmental imaging rather than cameras, lenses and lasers. The idea is to make the smart home secure from hacking.

A record number of female applicants across all sectors submitted applications, up 71% on 2018, whilst, overall, Glasgow School of Art provide the greatest number of submissions, followed by the University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the University of Glasgow. 

Claudia Cavalluzzo, interim director of Converge Challenge, said the 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.

The candidates will 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.

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