Programmes for entrepreneurs

Women and ‘tech for good’ pitching for £230k prize

Caudia CavalluzzoAlmost half of the early stage companies through to the next stage of this year’s Converge programme are women while companies engaged in technology for social good also feature prominently.

About 60 aspiring entrepreneurs from Scotland’s universities are chasing a place in the final where a total prize fund of cash and in-kind support worth £230,000 awaits the winner.

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, pictured, director of Converge, said: “Converge thrives on ideas that are genuinely innovative and that have the ability to transform lives and this year our cohort has really pushed the boundaries with some truly ground-breaking projects. 

“Nearly half of our semi-finalists are also women, an encouraging trend particularly in light of the recent Rose Review that has shed light on the huge untapped potential of UK women in business. 

“We are also seeing a growing trend towards ‘tech for social good’ with academic entrepreneurs harnessing the power of technology to create economic wealth while positively impacting our society and the environment.

“These pioneers are addressing some of the biggest global challenges of our time around water security, food production, pollution, climate change and healthcare in an environmentally and economically sustainable way. Dramatic change won’t be driven by traditional thinking so we need to mobilise our most entrepreneurial and creative minds to solve these problems and Converge provides the ideal platform to do this.”

Semi-finalists in the Converge Challenge category will also take part in ‘Ready, Steady, Pitch’ – a live pitching competition attended by investors, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, Converge alumni and members of Scotland’s business community on 12 June at the Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh. 

In the next phase of the programme, semi-finalists will submit a business plan with the very best ideas going forward to the Converge 2019 final at the V&A Dundee on 25 September.

Social enterprise programme

Eighteen social enterprises from around the UK are gathering in Falkirk from 29 to 31 May for the 2019 Social Investment Scotland Retail Academy.

Developed by Social Investment Scotland (SIS), in partnership with Asda and supported by the Scottish Government, the three-day event will provide each of the budding social entrepreneurs with an intensive programme of support and advice to help them propel their products to a wider market of socially-conscious consumers.  

This year’s academy includes workshops from past academy alumni including Brewgooder, which secured a nationwide listing in Asda following participation in the inaugural event back in 2016. Also presenting to this year’s cohort is Shetland Soap Company. Since taking part in the academy, the enterprise has gone on to rebrand the product range and secure new listings throughout Scotland.

Entrants to Scotland Retail Academy

Entrants to Scotland Retail Academy


Former chairman of Scottish Enterprise Bob Kellier will be hosting a session entitled ‘Storytelling for Growth’ aimed at inspiring the enterprises to cultivate and develop their own brand story.

The event will culminate in each social enterprise pitching its products to a panel of eight buyers including Asda and Dobbies Garden Centres. Retailers will provide their expert feedback and help organisations to refine their pitches for future product listing opportunities.

Retailers will also have the opportunity to continue their discussions with individual social enterprises and even offer a product listing in their stores, if desired.

Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland, said: “Ethical products with a social purpose are in much greater demand among today’s consumers. An increasing number of studies are showing that consumers are looking to brands to help them make a difference. So there is a clear business imperative. If your brand isn’t helping consumers improve their environmental and social footprint, then you’re in danger of disappointing them.”

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