Converge Challenge is a pan-Scotland company development competition and start-up development programme that brings together the most ambitious, innovative and groundbreaking ideas from students, university staff and recent university graduates.
Four University of Aberdeen business ideas were shortlisted for last year’s competition, which is undoubtedly a big success. Two university academics have been named among the Top 10 finals in Converge Challenge, and two of our social entrepreneurs made it into the Top 5 in the Social Enterprise category:
– Recent law graduate, Erika Grant, with Project TurnKey CIC – promoting social integration.
“Project TurnKey aims to empower people with the confidence to see a life beyond prostitution as achievable. My team of law students and I do this though an ’empowerment programme’ targeting the main barriers that they face. These are; a lack of legal knowledge, limited (if any) previous work experience, and low self-esteem. Through our network of partners we are also able to secure specialist support, training, work experience, or employment for individuals upon their completion of our course.”
– Dr Fiona McIntyre, Greyhope Bay Ltd., promoting eco-tourism in Aberdeen.
“Greyhope Bay Ltd has bold plans to deliver a new, world class visitor and marine education centre for Aberdeen, creating a unique platform to view the city’s most charismatic visitors – dolphins! Dolphins are regularly spotted at the site we have identified making it one of the best places in Europe to see dolphins from the shore. Built at Greyhope Bay, the centre will be transformative for Aberdeen, a signature project acting as a catalyst to establish the city as an international tourist destination promoting its unique coastal location, exciting marine wildlife and status as an international hub for marine research.”
Erika Grant snapped up the £5,000 prize in the Social Enterprise category which helped her with developing her business and widening outreach. We at ABVenture Zone are extremely proud of her hard work and success!
Yesterday we hosted a Converge Challenge information session, lead by Veronica Ferguson – the competition’s Enterprise Outreach Manager. She gave a very engaging and inspiring talk which was well-attended by our incubator occupants.
So why enter Converge Challenge this year? There are numerous reasons. Among them are:
– £150,000+ prize package – mix of cash and business support
– Hands-on mentoring
– Access to fantastic networking opportunities
– Financial planning & IP advice
– Opportunity to enhance your pitching skills
– Free access to business training throughout the process
– Market research
– Building your confidence & business skills
– Constructive feedback all along the way
There are three categories: Converge Challenge (for big, developed ideas), KickStart (for early-stage ideas) and Social Enterprise (for start-up ideas with a social / environmental mission).
Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge said:
“Converge Challenge is becoming a vital opportunity for start-ups to engage with and it’s not only good for them, it’s good for Scotland’s economy. Over 80% of Converge Challenge companies go on to secure follow-on funding with alumni having secured over £34 million of funding and employing over 150 staff since 2011.”
Applying for competitions surely is time-consuming and can, at times, be a daunting process. However, there is a whole host of benefits of applying and it’s a great way of elevating your idea onto a next level, while gaining feedback and advice along the way. With the comprehensive support available from ABVenture Zone, Enterprise Campus, SIE and other organisations, it is certainly worth a shot!
We look forward to the opening of applications on February 7th and we hope to build on last year’s successes. Aberdeen has a robust and exciting base of start-ups, and who knows, perhaps ABVenture Zone is nurturing the next Converge Challenge winner?
Click HERE to access useful advice and sample application documents for the competition.