Academic innovation in Edinburgh is thriving, with a bumper set of finalists shortlisted
for the Converge Awards 2022 hailing from the capital.
12 academic founders from universities within Edinburgh feature in a supreme list of 28 finalists in the awards for Scotland’s largest company creation programme for the university sector.
One project from the early-stage, KickStart Challenge category, is Mude – a female underwear brand catering to insulin pump users. Created by Edinburgh Napier University graduate, Kat Poherecka. Mude integrates insulin pumps into bodysuits offering a much-needed solution for insulin users who need to keep their pumps close at hand at all times.
Projects from the Converge Challenge, a category focused on novel solutions with solid IP and highcommercial potential, include Danu Robotics from the University of Edinburgh. Founded byXiaoyan Ma, the project uses AI to tackle the global issue of contamination in recycling – a problem which results in millions of tonnes of waste being sent to landfill every year.
Also making the Converge Challenge shortlist is Robert Goodfellow from PlusPEP, an Edinburgh Napier University project and future spinout that has created a patent-pending “antiviral, immunity boosting pill” providing natural immunity against Rhinovirus, the main cause of the common cold.
The fledgling businesses have been whittled down from more than 200 initial entries
for the Converge 2022 competition. Finalists come from universities across the length and breadth of Scotland including the Highlands and Islands, the Northeast, Tayside as well as the Central Belt with projects spanning a diverse range of sectors from tech, robotics and sensors, through to the chemical industry, health care and engineering.
Allthe 28 finalists will now compete for over £300,000 of equity-free funding and start-up support at an awards ceremony in Edinburgh in early November. Prizes include equity-free cash awards of up to £50,000 plus in-kind support from Converge’s network of professional partners which includes some of the country’s leading investors, lawyers, and business experts.
The six finalists in the Converge Challenge category will also be invited to pitch their ideas live at an exclusive investors-only event at Scotland House in London next month. Organised in collaboration with Scottish Development International and featuring an address from Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, the event will enable UK wide investors to see the very best innovation and entrepreneurship emerging from Scotland’s universities.
ClaudiaCavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, said:
“Scotland’s world-class universities continueto 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. It is great to see so many of this year’s finalists originate from the capital’s universities as it demonstrates that innovation is alive and well here. 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.”
Three special awards will also be made on the night, including the Future Tech award,
sponsored by Cisco, the Rose Award which recognises ambitious female entrepreneurs, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland and the IBioIC Award. This new award for 2022 is sponsored by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), and offers a package of support to one successful biotech project, including a free membership to IBioIC, a dedicated IBioIC account manager and £20,000 in project funding for the university where the project originated.
More about the 3 finalists from Edinburgh Napier University
PlusPEP; Robert Goodfellow
“No cure for the common cold?”; Two years socially distanced, our exposure to Rhinovirus, the primary cause of the common cold is low and, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic reduces, we will again be challenged by circulating viruses, typically responsible for 26.1Million UK sick days (ONS, 2021).
Patent-pending with in-vitro proof of concept demonstrated against Rhinovirus, PlusPEP®, promises Scotland first “antiviral, immunity boosting pill”. Exported globally,
selling direct online or through pharmacies and supermarkets, future Napier spinout PlusPEP Ltd aims a first product launch into the $29Bn global immune health supplements market in 2025.
Create Change Challenge
LU Innovations Ltd; Erin Reid
LU Innovations Ltd is a mission led start-up company aimed at ensuring a women’s spirit of adventure isn’t hindered by their period. We provide both products and training to ensure good menstrual hygiene is easy and stress free - especially in remote environments. Because nothing should get in the way of adventure.
Mude Underwear; Kat Pohorecka
Mude is a brand of underwear for insulin pump users. It is a range of skin tone matched bodysuits with an integrated pocket to hold a user’s insulin pump. It has been created for female insulin pump users representing all body types, all ages, and all skin tones. Mude allows women to integrate their insulin pumps into any clothing combinations giving them more freedom of choice when choosing their clothes.