There are more female Converge semi-finalists this year than ever before, with technology, engineering and creative industries some of the most represented sectors.
Converge is a company creation programme for staff, students and recent graduates of all Scottish universities and research institutes.
Female entrepreneurs account for 49.1% of this year’s successful entries and will embark on a three-day intensive, hands-on business training course that has been specifically designed to prepare academic entrepreneurs in startups and spin-outs.
In addition to business training, this year’s cohort will receive one-to-one pitch coaching to help them master their ’60-second pitch’.
Semi-finalists in the Converge Challenge category will also take part in ‘Ready, Steady, Pitch’ in June – a live pitching competition attended by investors, Converge alumni and members of Scotland’s business community.
Some of the innovative ideas to emerge from this year’s pool of semi-finalists include an interactive map to help blind and visually impaired people to safely navigate train stations, a flat-pack solar collector offering affordable clean energy for developing countries and a human skin culture system that mimics human skin and replaces animal testing.
This next phase of the Converge programme will see semi-finalists submit a business plan with the very best ideas going forward to the Converge 2019 final at the V&A Dundee on the 25th of September. A total prize fund of cash and in-kind support awaits the Converge winner in September.
Tech for social good is an emerging trend this year, with a large portion of semi-finalists using technology to help solve some of the world’s greatest social, economic and environmental challenges.
This includes Dr Ali Abbassi Monjezi of Waterwhelm from the University of Edinburgh. Waterwhelm is tackling the growing issue of global water scarcity with a patent-pending technology which turns wastewater into fresh water – all while simultaneously generating electricity.
Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, director of Converge, commented: “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.”
Dr Cavalluzzo added: “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.”