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Ten Strathclyde applications shortlisted for Converge

Ten applications from the University of Strathclyde have been shortlisted for Converge, Scotland’s largest business and venture creation program for the university sector.

Strathclyde is represented in three of the event’s four categories: Converge Challenge; Create Change and KickStart.

The University produced the overall winner of the 2021 Converge Challenge, pre-spinout pharmaceutical company Fitabeo Therapeutics, and had three finalists in the event.

Converge’s mission is to help the next generation of innovators, creators and trailblazers turn their ideas into commercially viable businesses to improve lives, protect our planet and help Scotland’s economy thrive.

Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Creative Scotland, Scotland’s 18 universities and a network of 10 business partners, the program is designed to launch new ventures through intensive training, networking, one-on-one support, generous capital-free cash from pricing and expert advice from a list of industry partners. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on November 3.

Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement at Strathclyde, said: “In what has undoubtedly been a difficult time for anyone starting a business, it is heartening to see ten applications of Strathclyde entrepreneurs selected for the next round of Converge.

“This year’s competition was particularly strong, with over 200 entries received, so being shortlisted and advancing to the semi-finals goes some way to showing the high quality of ideas coming from our entrepreneurs. The Strathclyde Inspire team and I look forward to helping these ten people develop their ideas and hopefully make it to the Converge Finals.

The Strathclyde finalists are:

Convergence Challenge

  • Dr. Daniele Marini (Research Associate, Digital Factory, Advanced Forming Research Center), Kaiba: the first technology company to quantify and digitize industrial behavior. Kaiba develops AI and data-driven strategies to network businesses and increase the sustainability of industrial supply chains
  • Dr. Araceli Venegas-Gomez (Graduate, Physics), QURECA: The first company to provide the necessary resources in the quantum technologies ecosystem to build a stronger network of stakeholders. In 2019, the Royal Society described QURECA as the company that “bridges the gaps in the existing quantum community, creating a quantum-ready society through a common language”.

Create a change

  • Dr Clare Daly (Senior Lecturer, Psychological Sciences & Health), I Am Dynamic: The project aims to develop the learning potential of all children and young people by creating a digital learning platform of psychologically approved games directly related to each user profile (users’ have a unique avatar). It is a tool for change that can be used at home and at school. Parents, educators and local authorities can trust the content and mediation approaches on the platform thanks to the rigorous accreditation process we undertake
  • Fergal Mackie, (Graduate, Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management), Metacarpal: Up to 46% of hand amputees stop using prostheses altogether, which not only limits function, but leads to the development of debilitating diseases like arthritis. Metacarpal has updated technology loved by users for its simple and fast operation, but long forgotten by prosthetic development. This has been combined with the most sought after features in electronic hands to ensure that amputees get a device that looks good that boosts their confidence and adds utility to their lives and most importantly at an accessible price.
  • Cameron Campbell (Graduate, International Trade) STAT SALUS CIC: This company produces the MHK Public Toilet Survival Pack, for people who prefer not to use the toilet away from home and seek protection from poor hygiene. To do this, MHK offers its customers an innovative, high quality and discreet black bag, the size of a smartphone, which contains mini toilet hygiene products. It also helps people with bowel disorders living in poor hygiene conditions by providing free take-out toilet hygiene products.

kick start

  • Matthew McLean (student, mechanical and aerospace engineering), Airspection: An inspection service for wind turbine operators who want to improve the reliability and safety of their wind turbines while reducing operating costs. Unlike current solutions that use manned vessels to navigate to each individual turbine and then launch drones for inspection (which can take up to a month to scan an entire wind farm), Airspection uses high-endurance drones that launch from shore and scan multiple turbines in a single day
  • Jonathan Brady (Graduate, Business), CherryPIQ: A new digital hospitality metasearch engine that will consolidate and connect existing digital hospitality platforms, venues and consumers into one platform. At your fingertips, CherryPiQ allows you to instantly book or spontaneously hang out at restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs, knowing there is availability for exactly what you want, when you want it. By enabling simplified, unbiased, collaborative and fully personalized research on a single platform, CherryPiQ aims to change the way people go out.
  • Marvin Wright (PhD student, Naval Architecture, Ocean & Marine Engineering), Criterion Robotics: this company develops and builds a bio-inspired underwater vehicle for inspection and surveillance tasks. The autonomously operating robot can reside at a work site for long periods of time, exchange information and recharge at a dock and is designed to mimic highly efficient and maneuverable fish swimming techniques. The modular design allows flexible adaptation of the robot structure for different tasks, making it a very versatile sensor carrier platform for a wide range of underwater tasks. The robot was designed for application in the offshore industry, to inspect floating and fixed structures of offshore wind turbines, its key market.
  • Iain Quinn (student, Science), Plant Informer – this company produces a plant mood light, which can be placed in the soil of a houseplant. Its soft, brilliant colors reveal what plants need and when they need it
  • Nikolas Coles (Graduate, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), Hidden Energy Solutions: The Wall Wind Turbine is a hybrid power generation unit designed to be a minimalist addition to homes and small industrial units. The wind turbine is designed in such a way that it increases the operating time during low wind speeds. Unlike many other products, this unit will be easy to maintain, inexpensive to manufacture, 99% recyclable and almost imperceptible. The goal of this product is to create the first fully sustainable micro-energy generating unit that can be returned to the manufacturer for recycling, reuse, and recommissioning.

Additionally, Converge announced a new partnership with the Strathclyde-based Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Center (IBioIC), one of Scotland’s seven Innovation Centres, which will provide a package of support for a successful biotech project. This includes free IBioIC membership, a dedicated IBioIC account manager and £20,000 project funding for the university where the project originated.

Sustainability, AI and engineering are key themes emerging from this year’s shortlist, along with several health-related projects that could directly benefit social care, mobility and chronic disease management.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Executive Director of Converge, said, “I am inspired to see more of today’s university population coming up with interesting and new concepts and projects to make a difference in the world we live in. Collaboration and ideation within higher education has been undeniably challenged over the past few years, however, as we welcome a high proportion of student submissions this year, this trend has reversed and is stronger than never.

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