Aberdeen graduates reach Converge Challenge final

The University of Aberdeen has finalists in all three categories of this year's Converge Challenge.

Scotland’s leading company creation competition and entrepreneurial development programme for students, graduates and staff from the country’s universities offers a £170,000 prize pot to the winners.

This year’s Aberdeen finalists are all recent PhD graduates from the University and include two Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellows in Rotimi Alabi and Fiona Rudkin, who have been shortlisted in the Converge Challenge category.

The Converge Challenge award categories and nominees are:

  • Converge Challenge (for those with an established idea) – Fiona Rudkin, mycoBiologics; Rotimi Alabi, RAB-Microfluidics
  • KickStart (for early stage ideas) - Liam Mc Morrow, Insulin PenPal
  • Social Enterprise (for ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues) - Rana Abu-Mounes, Al Mushkah

The University has a strong track record in the Converge Challenge in recent years.  Last year’s competition saw Erika Grant win the Social Enterprise category with Project TurnKey, a social enterprise that empowers people to see a life beyond prostitution.

Commenting on the finalists, Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said:

“Every year the Converge Challenge competition gets stronger and this year looks like being the most competitive yet. Participants have put a lot of effort into describing their markets and customer interactions rather than focus on technology development. There is a strong ethical focus in many applications aiming to improve quality of life through innovations targeting nine sectors of the Scottish Economy.”

Dr Ann Lewendon, from the University’s Research & Innovation team, said: “It is encouraging to see the success of four recent PhD students from the University in the Converge Challenge competition.  All of the businesses being developed by our shortlisted entrepreneurs show great promise in their different fields.”

Business descriptions:

Fiona Rudkin - mycoBiologics

Invasive fungal infections (IFIs) kill 1.5 million people every year.  A major problem is the lack of accurate, discriminative diagnostic tests and ineffective treatment options.  mycoBiologics has a platform for generating monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) designed to combat these issues.  Our current portfolio of IP-protected mAbs target Candida - one of the ‘Big Four’ major human fungal pathogens - and have already been validated in early stage diagnostic and preclinical therapeutic settings.  Initially these will be marketed as fungal diagnostic products through partnering with existing companies to incorporate appropriate mAbs into a new generation of single and multiplexed portable, point-of-care diagnostic tests.  There is also significant potential for future development of mAb-based therapeutics using this platform.    

Rotimi Alabi – RAB-Microfluidics

Diagnosing early, potential failure of heavy machinery is critical to operations across many industries. For this reason, industrial businesses in 2016 spent £1.84Bn on state-of-the-art Oil Condition Monitoring (OCM) techniques. These techniques however, are inefficient, expensive and environmentally unfriendly. For example, additional £2.1Bn was spent in 2016 on breakdowns, repairs and costs associated with downtime losses, highlighting inefficiency of current OCM technologies.  RAB-Microfluidics offers cutting-edge microfluidic ‘Lab-on-a-chip’ technology that delivers OCM analysis a 1000x faster and 10x cheaper than the current approaches.  This offers customers real-time continuous monitoring, early problem diagnosis, rapid decision making, enhanced efficiency and cost savings.

Dr Liam McMorrow - Insulin PenPal

Adelie Health is a health technology company which aims to make life easier for people self-managing chronic diseases. We apply insights from behavioural economics to improve individual decision making resulting in better health outcomes. Our initial focus is on type 1 diabetes with the intention to apply our solutions to type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases in the future.  Insulin PenPal, our flagship product, helps users administer more accurate insulin doses solving two existing problems. First, it increases usage of insulin dose calculators which can improve diabetic control. Second, it captures data enhancing healthcare professionals’ ability to remote monitor and deliver patient centred care.

Rana Abu-Mounes - Al-Mushkah

Al-Mushkah will be a social enterprise that provides consultation and training services to public and private sectors to help improve the integration, cultural assimilation and economic development of Muslim and BME women (including refugees of Muslim background) in Scotland. The business organises and delivers workshops and events for supporting Muslim and BME women in general and Syrian refugees in particular to develop better a quality of life for themselves and contribute positively to the local economy and their host community in Scotland.    Al-Mushkah is a joint endeavour between students from the Universities of Aberdeen and Dundee.


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