Ten entries from the University of Strathclyde have been shortlisted for Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation and enterprise programme for the university sector.
Strathclyde is represented in three of the event’s four categories: Converge Challenge; Create Change and KickStart.
The University produced the overall winner of the 2021 Converge Challenge, pre-spinout pharmaceutical company Fitabeo Therapeutics, and had three-runners up in the event.
Converge’s mission is to help the next generation of innovators, creators and ground breakers turn their ideas into commercially viable businesses to improve lives, safeguard our planet and help Scotland’s economy thrive.
Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Creative Scotland, all 18 of Scotland’s universities, and a network of 10 professional partners, the programme is designed to springboard new businesses through intensive training, networking, one-to-one support, generous equity-free cash prizes and expert advice from a roster of industry partners. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 3 November.
Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Innovation & Industry Engagement at Strathclyde, said: “In what has undoubtedly been a difficult time for anyone starting a business, it is heartening to see ten entries from Strathclyde entrepreneurs be selected for the next round of Converge.
“This year’s competition was particularly strong, with over 200 applications received, so to be shortlisted and progress to semi-finals, goes some way to show the high quality of the ideas coming from our entrepreneurs. Myself and the team at Strathclyde Inspire look forward to helping these ten individuals develop their ideas, and hopefully make it all the way to the Converge Finals.”
The Strathclyde finalists are:
- Dr Daniele Marini (Research Associate, Digital Factory, Advanced Forming Research Centre), Kaiba: the first tech company to quantify and digitalise industrial behaviour. Kaiba develops AI and data-driven strategies to network companies and increase industrial supply chains’ sustainability
- Dr Araceli Venegas-Gomez (Graduate, Physics), QURECA: the first company to provide the resources needed in the quantum technologies ecosystem to build a stronger network of stakeholders. In 2019, the Royal Society described QURECA as the company that “fills the gaps in the existing quantum community, creating a society ready for quantum through a common language”
- Dr Clare Daly (Senior Lecturer, Psychological Sciences & Health), I Am Dynamic: the project’s mission is to develop the learning potential of all children and young people by creating a digital learning platform of psychologically approved games directly linked to each user profile (users’ have a unique avatar). This is a tool for change that can be used at home and at school. Parents, educators, and local authorities can trust the content and mediation approaches on the platform due to the rigorous accreditation process we undertake
- Fergal Mackie, (Graduate, DMEM), Metacarpal: Up to 46% of hand amputees stop using prosthetics altogether which does not just limit function but leads to the development of debilitating ailments like arthritis. Metacarpal has updated a technology that is loved by users for its quick and simple operation, yet long-forgotten by prosthetic development. This has been combined with the most desired features in electronic hands to ensure that amputees get a device that has an appearance that boosts their confidence and adds utility to their lives and crucially, at a price that is accessible
- Cameron Campbell (graduate, International Business) STAT SALUS CIC: this company produces the MHK Public Toilet Survival Pack, for people who prefer not to use toilets away from home and who seek protection from lack of hygiene. MHK does this by providing customers with an innovative, premium quality and discreet black bag, the size of a smartphone, which contains mini toilet hygiene essentials. It also helps bowel condition sufferers living in hygiene poverty by providing them with free on-the-go toilet hygiene products.
- Matthew McLean (student, MAE), Airspection: An inspection service for wind turbine operators who want to improve the reliability and safety of their turbines while reducing operation costs. Unlike current solutions which use crewed vessels to sail to each individual turbine then launch drones for inspection (which can take up to a month to scan a full wind farm), Airspection utilises high endurance drones which launch from shore and scan multiple turbines in a single day
- Jonathan Brady (graduate, Business), CherryPIQ: A new digital hospitality metasearch engine that will aggregate and connect existing digital hospitality platforms, venues and consumers on one platform. At the tip of your fingers, CherryPiQ allows you to instantly book or spontaneously go out to restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs, knowing that there is availability for exactly what you want, when you want. By allowing for a simplified, unbiased, collaborative and entirely personalised search on one platform, CherryPiQ aims to change the way people go out.
- Marvin Wright (PhD student, NAOME), Criterion Robotics: this company develops and builds a bio-inspired underwater vehicle for inspection and monitoring tasks. The autonomous operating robot can reside at an intervention location for long periods of time, exchange information and charge at a dock and is designed to mimic highly efficient and manoeuvrable fish swimming techniques. The modular design allows for flexible adaptation of the robot structure for different tasks which makes it a highly versatile sensor carrier platform for a wide range of underwater tasks. The robot was designed for application in the offshore industry, to inspect floating and fixed offshore wind turbines structures, as its key market.
- Iain Quinn (student, Science), Plant Informer – this company produces a plant mood light, which can be placed in the soil of a house plant. Its soft glowing colours reveal what plants need, and when they need it
- Nikolas Coles (graduate, MAE), Hidden Energy Solutions: The wall mounted wind turbine is a hybrid energy generation unit that is designed to be a minimalistic addition to homes and small industrial units. The wind turbine is designed in such a way that it increases the running time during low wind speeds. Unlike many other products, this unit will be easy to maintain, cheap to manufacture, 99% recyclable, and almost unnoticeable. The objective of this product is to create the first fully sustainable micro energy generation unit that can be returned to the manufacturer for recycling, reusing, and recommissioning.
In addition, Converge has announced a new partnership with the Strathclyde-based Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), one of Scotland’s seven innovation centres, which will award a package of support to one successful Biotech project. This includes free membership to IBioIC, a dedicated IBioIC account manager and £20,000 in project funding for the university where the project originated.
Sustainability, AI, and engineering are key themes emerging from this year’s shortlist, as well as several health-related projects that could directly benefit social care, mobility, and chronic disease management.
Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director of Converge, said: “I am inspired to see more of the current university population coming forward with interesting and new concepts and projects to make a difference in the world that we live in. Collaboration and ideation within higher education have been undeniably challenged over recent years, however, as we welcome a high proportion of submissions from students this year, this trend has been bucked and is stronger than ever.”