Kickstart winners announced
Converge marks anniversary with new initiatives
Claudia Cavalluzzo: ‘never enough women apply’ (pic: Terry Murden)
Converge, which helps turn university-led developments into new companies, has marked its tenth anniversary with the launch of two initiatives – one aimed at encouraging more women to apply.
Director Claudia Cavalluzzo announced that a Woman’s Award will be added to the programme and that a Converge Club will be created to encourage alumni to share their ideas and experiences.
The Rose Award for women is named after Alison Rose, CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland which is a key supporter of the programme and hosted the Kickstart 2020 Awards.
Kickstart drew 121 applications from 18 universities across Scotland but Ms Cavulluzzo said there had been a dip in the number of female applicants from about half last year to just 20% this year.
“There are never enough women applying but we hope the added award will encourage more women to come forward,” she said, speaking after the presentation of the 2020 Awards.
Ross Gillanders: validation (pic: Terry Murden)
The winner, who receives a £10,000 package, was Ross Gillanders of F-Sense which is developing a low-cost clean water sensor at St Andrews University school of physics.
He said: “Even getting into the top 10 finalists has been great. It gives the work I’m doing credibility and will help establish the spin-out.”
Runner-up, and receiving a £5,000 prize, was Bartosz Soltowski whose Connex Solar venture based at Strathclyde University has developed a peer-to-peer electricity sharing system.
Ali Abbassi Monjezi: go for it (pic: Terry Murden)
The best pitch was won by Howard Moshtael of SmartScroll, developed at Edinburgh University.
He is working on a reading experience which makes text mimic how our eyes read in order to improve comfort and speed of reading on screen.
Last year’s winner Ali Abbassi Monjezi of Edinburgh University desalination spin-out Waterwhelm, addressed the gathering by saying the award had helped validate his business.
“I would encourage anyone with an idea to apply,” he said.