The finalists for Converge 2020, Scotland’s leading academic company creation programme, have been announced with representation from the School included on the list with Dr Robyn Hickerson, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Ten Bio.
Ten Bio have created a next generation skin testing platform. It is a patented, human skin culture system that mimics living skin. This real human skin system will allow pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies to fill the unmet need for systems that mimic intact, living skin, providing an alternative for many experiments currently only performed on animals.
18 fledgling businesses and a wide range of exceptional innovation from across the nation’s universities will participate at this year’s virtual Converge final on Thursday 24 September. The finalists across three of the four established Converge ‘Challenges’ – Impact, Creative and the flagship Converge category, will vie for a chance to win part of the £230,000 total prize fund of equity free cash and in-kind business support.
Ten Bio made the final eight of the main Converge Challenge category. Competitiors include the analysis of satellite data, assessing fish health across Scotland’s salmon farming sector and diagnostic techniques to identify heart disease in companion animals using a single blood sample.
In spite of the pandemic, applications to Scotland’s premier academic company creation programme have been exceptional high this year with a record number of initial submissions up 17% on 2019.
In June, 60 semi-finalists presented their ideas via two virtual pitch events that reached a global audience, where more than 300 people logged in from the likes of the US and India.
This year’s Converge final will welcome guest speakers including Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon; multi-award-winning environmental entrepreneur, Kresse Wesling MBE, co-founder of sustainable British fashion brand, Elvis & Kresse and Professor Andrea Nolan OBE, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University.
Susan Fouquier, Managing Director, Business Banking, Royal Bank of Scotland will also announce the winner of the ‘Rose Award’, a brand-new award presented to an aspiring, ambitious female entrepreneur from this year’s Converge cohort, named after Alison Rose, CEO, The Royal Bank of Scotland.
Renowned venture capitalist and serial investor, Paul Atkinson, founder of Par Equity and Chair of the Converge Strategic Advisory Board, believes that, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the high calibre of entries this year is testament to Scotland’s Higher Education Institutions’ continued support of innovative projects and ideas. “This year has unquestionably been a challenge for us all. Despite university campuses being in lockdown, the making of an entrepreneur lies in the unerring ability to overcome any obstacle and push on for success. That’s what we are seeing with this year’s exceptional final cohort and is what sets Converge apart as Scotland’s most prestigious company creation programme for our academic community.”
This year, the 10th anniversary of Converge, will have all attendees including university principals, senior academic staff, entrepreneurs, investors, Converge funders and partners, and the media, logging in from the comfort of their own homes to ‘attend’ this year’s event. As Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, notes, the unusual circumstances this year, presents an opportunity for Scotland’s academic community to throw open its arms to the rest of the world. She comments; “For obvious reasons, our approach this year is different and wholeheartedly embraces the message that Scotland is an innovation powerhouse. The beauty of the virtual format is we can expect people joining us from across the globe. The last global economic downturn over a decade ago happened to coincide with the launch of some of the most successful start-ups like WhatsApp, Groupon and Uber, so we should take inspiration from that.”