A record-breaking number of entrepreneurs from across Scotland will benefit from the Converge Challenge KickStart programme in 2019, with a £10,000 cash prize up for grabs.
The two-day practical business training initiative aims to help entrepreneurs and bright talents in Scotland’s digital technology sector fine-tune their pitching.
The high volume of entries for the 2019 challenge, organisers said, showcases the “vibrant academic entrepreneurial eco-system”, which continues to flourish in Scotland, with 33 early-stage business ideas potentially reaching the final.
This year saw the creative industries provide the highest surge in applicants for KickStart, marking a 59% increase on the previous year. Engineering and Technology, Life Sciences, Tourism and Textile industries are also well represented.
The diversity of this year’s ideas have also been “outstanding”, Converge highlighted. From innovators looking to build affordable 3D printed prosthetic arms, through to touch screens powered by solar energy.
Among the entries for this year’s challenge is Robert Gordon University’s Rajesh Kumar Plamthottathil, who is working on a blockchain-based, AI-powered software platform for the food and drink industry.
Plamthottathil’s project, named TrackGenesis, aims to revolutionise the tracking of physical assets by enabling organisations to fully digitise and track them from the production phase right through to the delivery process – thus increasing supply chain transparency.
Another innovative project showcased by the challenge is Wet Blue, created by Lucy Kerr at the Glasgow School of Art.
This recycling project explores ways in which waste produce from leather production can be re-used and turned into a sustainable alternative to paper.
A record number of female applicants across a broad range of sectors submitted applications for the 2019 challenge – an increase of 71% on 2018.
Overall, the Glasgow School of Art provided the greatest number of submissions. However, the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are all heavily represented.
Claudia Cavalluzzo, interim director of Converge Challenge, said she is delighted with the broad variety of this year’s entrants, highlighting the need for a platform through which early-stage ideas can flourish.
“Submissions for the 2019 KickStart programme has surpassed all our expectations,” she said. “Not just in the number of applications received but in the quality and the creativity of the ideas.
“We’ve now refined the entries and have selected a cohort of innovators who will undergo entrepreneurial skills training that will help them to develop practical business management and enterprise skills.”
Cavalluzzo added: “We are delighted that Scotland’s Higher Education sector is strongly committed to developing entrepreneurship, helping to crystallise these early-stage business ideas and contributing to Scotland’s economy.”
Candidates will now be invited to attend a two-day training programme, hosted in Edinburgh in January. Shortlisted KickStart projects will be assessed by an independent judging panel, with the winning projects announced at an awards ceremonies in March.