University of Aberdeen showcases talent as Converge Challenge shortlist is announced

University of Aberdeen showcases talent as Converge Challenge shortlist is announced

The University of Aberdeen is leading the way in this year's Converge Challenge which offers up a £150,000 prize to the winner.

Scotland’s leading company creation competition and start up development programme for students, graduates and staff from the country’s universities announced its shortlist of nominees for 2016 this week.

From 212 applicants this year, the judging process has now shortlisted the top 10 nominees for each of the competition’s three categories:

  • Converge Challenge: for those with an established idea
  • KickStart: for early stage ideas
  • Social Enterprise: for ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues

Two University of Aberdeen academics have been named among the Top 10 finalists for the Converge Challenge:

  • Dr Alasdair Mort with MIME Technologies Ltd, a medical first responder app that was also a top 10 finalist in 2015
  • Dr Leigh Cassidy with ENREN, a process that can convert biogas into fertilizer - a new entrant in 2016

Aberdeen dominate the Social Enterprise awardcategory with two of the top 5 places:

  • Graduate Erika Grant with Project TurnKey promoting social integration
  • Dr Fiona McIntyre Greyhope Bay Ltd promoting eco-tourism in Aberdeen

Representing universities from across Scotland the shortlist of nominees represents a diverse mix of sectors including: renewables, food & drink, educational, construction, apps, beauty, healthcare software, security, digital retail and medical device digital healthcare.

A panel of expert judges made up of industry experts, leading entrepreneurs and investors from across the business community will now assess the projects and select the winners of the prestigious Converge Challenge awards. This year, Converge Challenge has increased its total prize fund to £150,000 through cash prizes and a broad range of expert support and training that has been provided through partners and sponsors.

The winner of each of the three categories will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, on 22 September.

Project descriptions:

Dr Alasdair Mort - MIME Technologies Ltd

Helping at a medical emergency is tough. Furthermore, there is ever-increasing pressure on non-medical professionals to be ‘first responders’. While basic training equips them, in the heat of the moment will they remember how to save a life? We have developed our innovative MIME® Pro app, connected to the latest medical sensors, to help them do just that. The global advanced patient monitoring market is estimated to be worth $31.4 billion. Our business model is to sell MIME® Pro kits and software licenses to key industries where professional medical care may be hours away (e.g. off-shore, shipping, and nuclear).

Dr Leigh Cassidy – ENREN

ENREN  (Energy Neutral Recovery of Elements and Nutrients) has identified the  potential to combine technologies to develop a truly circular solution to a key  problem in the production of biogas.  The  AD (Anaerobic Digestion) processes used to produce biogas also produces liquid  waste, known as digestate, which is problematic as large volumes of this liquid  can quickly accumulate.  ENREN was  designed to address this problem by remediating the digestate as it is produced  by turning it into high quality NPK fertiliser “in situ”.

Erika Grant – Project Turnkey

Project TurnKey aims to empower people with the confidence to see a life beyond prostitution as achievable. My team of law students and I do this though an 'empowerment programme' targeting the main barriers that they face. These are; a lack of legal knowledge, limited (if any) previous work experience, and low self-esteem. Through our network of partners we are also able to secure specialist support, training, work experience, or employment for individuals upon their completion of our course. We are currently piloting an 8 week programme through HMP & YOI Grampian, working with female prisoners.

Dr Fiona McIntyre – Greyhope Bay Ltd

Greyhope Bay Ltd has bold plans to deliver a new, world class visitor and marine education centre for Aberdeen, creating a unique platform to view the city’s most charismatic visitors – dolphins! Dolphins are regularly spotted at the site we have identified making it one of the best places in Europe to see dolphins from the shore. Built at Greyhope Bay, the centre will be transformative for Aberdeen, a signature project acting as a catalyst to establish the city as an international tourist destination promoting its unique coastal location, exciting marine wildlife and status as an international hub for marine research.

Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said: “It’s always tough to shortlist nominees and this year’s top 10 are the best yet. We’re especially pleased to see previous applicants back in 2016 with stronger business plans and that Scotland’s dynamic and diverse economy is well represented in the range of businesses included. In addition, our 2016 KickStart and Social Enterprise finalists are, I’m pleased to say, all new names to us, which shows a growing appetite in academia for start-ups.

“Converge Challenge is becoming a vital opportunity for start-ups to engage with and it’s not only good for them, it’s good for Scotland’s economy. Over 80% of Converge Challenge companies go on to secure follow-on funding with alumni having secured over £34 million of funding and employing over 150 staff since 2011.”