University of St Andrews student team wins award in business competition

Friday 7 October 2011

Business competition - Main feature

A collaboration between an astrophysicist and a biologist has led to an innovative business idea which aims to encourage collaboration between scientific researchers and the general public.

University of St Andrews students Alex Gibberd, who is undertaking an MA in Astrophysics, and Tom Oliver who is studying Evolutionary Biology, developed their concept, ShareSci, into a comprehensive business plan for entry into the 2011 Converge Challenge. ShareSci was awarded a Principal’s Enterprise Award, worth £1,000, during a ceremony at Heriot-Watt University recently. The money can be used to develop their website, attend conferences or undertake research and development.

ShareSci is a social enterprise internet service for the public to view articles written by researchers themselves. This would allow not only an interaction between scientists, but a much needed open communication between them and the public.

The Converge Challenge offered a first prize of £45,000 of cash and business support, which this year was won by Bellrock Technology from Strathclyde University. Second place was SOFANT Technologies from Edinburgh University, and third was AccuFluidics from Heriot-Watt University.

From 2012, the Converge Challenge will be open to all research-led business plan applications from any Higher Education Institution in Scotland.

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Converge Challenge aims to support the next generation of Scottish research entrepreneurs in business and technology and offers the first prize winner a business start up package worth over £45,000 to help make their business idea a reality.

From 2012, the competition will be open to all Higher Education Institutions in Scotland, allowing for an even greater breadth and diversity of budding entrepreneurs.

More than 40 applications were received in what was only the second year the competition has run. More people from more universities than before applied to take part and be in with a chance of winning £25,000 in cash and around £20,000 of in kind support.

John Anderson, Chief Executive of Entrepreneurial Exchange, welcomed the news. He said: “The success of Converge Challenge in attracting a high number of entries is testament to the hard work of the Heriot-Watt team and the aspiration of researchers from all over Scotland to explore ways of creating a business from their work. This is yet another example of the reality of what is happening every day in Scotland – there is no “lost generation” of entrepreneurs here!”

Eleanor Mitchell, commercialisation director at Scottish Enterprise, which supported the competition said: ”The Converge Challenge programme is a fantastic experience for research entrepreneurs, providing support and advice to build their confidence and skills and enabling them to work on turning their innovative ideas into an exciting business. The commercialisation of technologies which have developed from the truly innovative research in our universities is central to Scottish Enterprise’s Commercialisation Team activities and we’ll be providing continuing support to Adam and Bellrock a he grows his company in Scotland.”

Converge Challenge 2011 came to a grand finale at a prestigious dinner held on 27 September, hosted by Steve Chapman, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University.

For more information please contact:

Harry Loney
Communications Officer
Heriot-Watt University
0131 451 3703/8333

[email protected]

Category Business

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