The Converge KickStart Challenge is an early-stage entrepreneurial development programme for university staff, students and recent graduates across Scotland.
Among them is Nadimul Faisal with d-Finger Ltd who has developed a sensor-based scanner that risk-assesses runway surface conditions during high speed approaches. With 40% of all accidents occurring during the flight approach and landing, Nadimul’s novel solution will reduce near-miss landings, avoid diversion of aircraft and prevent delays, cancellations and aborted landings.
Also in the mix from RGU is Luis Toral with Foxshyre Analytics, an emergent start-up company using data analytics and artificial intelligence to provide facilities inspection solutions for the Oil and Gas industry. Unlike conventional monitoring that relies on costly and labour-intensive physical inspections, Foxshyre Analytics is a platform technology that can be deployed quickly and cost-effectively to analyse the structural integrity of equipment and assets. This could save the industry millions as operators look to extend the productive life of their assets.
A third semi-finalist, also originally from RGU’s accelerator, is Peter Atorough with Swype Global Ltd. The company created Swypatune, an app-based music contest that exposes millions of upcoming artists to a wider audience by removing the geographic constraints of organised music competitions. The app allows free, fair and remote entry into the competition. Users vote for the artists who will go on to win a packaged prize and recording contract. Voting is swipe based, with the app being described as ‘X-Factor meets Tinder’. Users are rewarded for engaging in the competition with ‘swypapoints’ which can be redeemed from partner vendors in the app.
The Director of Converge, Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, is delighted with the range and diversity of this year’s projects, and comments: “Every year we wait for the KickStart application deadline with trepidation, not knowing how many or what type of projects will come through. However, the breadth and creativity of applications that the challenge attracts never fail to disappoint and this year is no exception.
“We look forward to working with our KickStart cohort in the months ahead and helping them refine and validate their early-stage business ideas through customer discovery training, pitch coaching and the wrap-around support offered by our team and partners”
The semi-finalists are invited to take part in two days of intensive business training designed specifically for academic entrepreneurs. They will then be asked to submit a business case, with the very best asked to pitch at an Awards Final in February. One lucky winner will take home a £10,000 cash prize. A runner-up will also receive £5,000 in cash.
There are 32 entrepreneurs from across Scotland’s universities in the semi-finals, including the three teams that previously took part in RGU’s Startup Accelerator. RGU’s Accelerator programme is part of a suite of initiatives launched by the university, designed to embed entrepreneurship and innovation across RGU and promote entrepreneurship as a career choice to stimulate economic development.
Converge is funded by the Scottish Funding Council, all 18 of Scotland’s Universities and a network of nine professional partners to capitalise on the intellectual assets and expertise emerging from Scotland’s world-class Higher-Education system to help create the next generation of sustainable, high-impact businesses.
Pictured is Claudia with Enterprise Executive Adam Kosterka from Converge.