Academic innovation shines through in Converge 2022 shortlist

Academic innovation shines through in Converge 2022 shortlist

Four University of Aberdeen projects have made it onto the Converge 2022 shortlist which organisers say this year reflects an increase in innovation projects focused on sustainability, AI and healthcare.

Scotland’s largest company creation and enterprise programme for the university sector, over 200 applications have been whittled down to 101 shortlisted projects across four ‘challenge’ categories – Converge, Create Change, Net Zero and KickStart, with all 18 Scottish universities represented in the final cut.

Across the board, organisers say the 2022 cohort is the most diverse in Converge’s 11-year history, with 24% of projects from the black, Asian and minority ethnic community. In addition 10% of participants identify as disabled and 42% are non-British.

The University of Aberdeen shortlisted projects are:

Converge Challenge

Project: B05Lab - Thasshwin Mathanlal, Research Associate/Fellow

B05Lab is an environmental instrumentation company that designs and manufactures innovative environmental sensing products with focus on quality, modularity, affordability and accessibility.

The goal of the company is to make environmental sensing solutions accessible to all in the current race to protect the environment and promote a healthy ecosystem. B05Lab sensors are designed with highest quality and scientific maturity and uses modular design to enable application to a wide field of environmental study. Its products are designed to disseminate quality data to understand and help make a positive change to our environment. 

Create Challenge

Project: Two Raccoons - Lasse Rasmussen, Undergraduate Student

Two Raccoons makes wine from fruits that would have otherwise gone to waste. Since June 2021, it has rescued over five tonnes of fruit surplus and created 10,000 litres of wine, including banana, mango, strawberry and blackcurrant wine.

As an Aberdeen-based urban winery, it collaborates with food businesses across north-east Scotland to reduce their food waste while providing a sustainable alternative to imported wine. It aims to become the first fully circular winery in the world by repurposing its own winery by-products, such as fermented fruit pulp and lees, to grow gourmet mushrooms and for worm composting.

KickStart Challenge

Project: Royal Helix - Gizela Banana, Graduate

Royal Helix is an agricultural business idea introducing commercial snail farming in Scotland. Snails as a source of food are a good pick for gourmet restaurants and hotels. The slime extracted from the snails is also used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

Royal Helix aims to be a profitable business by enhancing the agricultural sector in Scotland and creating new jobs. Also, striving to be a green business respecting the Net Zero programme. For example, water will be harvested using rain collectors and electricity will be generated from solar panels making the project a carbon-neutral business.

Net Zero Challenge

Project: Zephyrus Aerolabs Ltd - Christopher Solomon, Graduate

Over several decades, uncontrolled release of harmful gas emissions from burning fossil fuels have been degrading the condition of the atmosphere leading to climate change. Reducing these emissions would need accurate and reliable measurements for climate mitigation efforts to be successful. This is one of the biggest challenges as we don't know what is actually being released because the emissions data is largely self-reported and unreliable, making it difficult to hold violators accountable.

Zephyrus Aerolabs solves this problem with innovative drone monitoring technology that simplifies the process by directly measuring end-of-pipe emissions, making it transparent, accurate and highly efficient. 

Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, said: “I am continually amazed by the high quality of innovation emerging from Scottish universities, and this year is no different. I believe that this will be one of the most competitive years to date. The diversity and inclusivity of this year’s shortlist is particularly encouraging, with more participants from the BAME community and those with disabilities making it into the cohort. While parity across all areas remains some way off from being achieved, our efforts to extend the appeal of Converge to a broader and more diverse audience is working.

“I am also particularly 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.”

Semi-finalists will now move on to attend in-depth training sessions over the coming months, culminating in an award ceremony on 3 November 2022, where the cream of this year’s projects vie for a slice of the £300,000+ prize pot to advance their businesses.

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