University innovators in running for share of £300k prize in business creation competition

University of Aberdeen student and alumni entrepreneurs are set to go head-to-head with other innovators for a share of a £300k prize in a prestigious company start-up programme.

Wine company Two Raccoons and early-stage Green-Tech Zephyrus Aerolabs Ltd are two of 28 businesses shortlisted from 200 applicants for Converge, the largest company creation initiative for staff, students and recent graduates of Scottish Universities and Research Institutes.

Joint founders of Aberdeen-based Two Raccoons Lasse Rasmussen and Elliott Martens are finalists in the Create Challenge. Their business uses soft fruit waste from the hospitality sector across the north-east to make different flavours of wine including strawberry, pear, mango and orange. 

Christopher Solomon is representing Zephyrus Aerolabs Ltd in the Net Zero Challenge. The start-up aims to develop technology for remote real-time emission monitoring of uncontrolled emissions of harmful gasses to the atmosphere. 

Converge’s mission is to help the next generation of innovators, creators and groundbreakers 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 ten professional partners, the programme is designed to springboard new businesses through intensive training, networking, 1-2-1 support, generous equity-free cash prizes and expert advice from a roster of industry partners. 

The finalists are competing for individual equity-free cash awards of up to £50,000, and business support from Converge’s network of professional partners which includes some of the country’s leading investors, lawyers, and business experts.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, said: “Scotland’s world-class universities continue to be brilliant hotbeds of innovation and creativity, as exemplified by this year’s Converge finalist cohort.

“The judges who reviewed this year’s cohort’s business plans believe that these emerging entrepreneurs are leading projects with real market potential and the power to strengthen our economy while creating a fairer future for all. The promise for all these 28 fledgling companies is huge, and the Converge team will be right behind them in championing their ground-breaking ideas.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Edinburgh in November.