Strathclyde start-up wins Net Zero pitch prize at innovation showcase

Airspection Technical Director Chris Fowler (centre) at Inside Innovation with Converge Executive Director Claudia Cavalluzzo (right) and Deputy Director Adam Kosterka. Photo by Anna Moffat

A start-up drone company from the University of Strathclyde is among the winners of a Scotland-wide pitching competition.

Airspection, which provides reliable and safe drone services for offshore infrastructure, was named as winner in the Net Zero Challenge at Inside Innovation, a showcase hosted by Converge, Scotland’s springboard for university innovators.

Technical Director Chris Fowler accepted the £500 prize on behalf of the company at a ceremony at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.

In the next phase of the programme, semi-finalists will submit a business plan, with the best ideas going forward to the Converge Awards final on 3 October.

Airspection’s drones are launched from safe, accessible locations, fly to the remote infrastructure and hover to provide inspections, eye in the sky and last-minute logistics. They improve safety and reliability, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by removing the need to mobilise vessels for conducting offshore wind turbine inspections. Benefits include: efficient, fast and low carbon inspections; empowerment of predictive maintenance with frequent and consistent inspections; reliable access in tough weather, and rapid post-storm or fault analysis.

Chris Fowler, Technical Director of Airspection, said: "We are thrilled to showcase our impact in the Net Zero Challenge. Converge has provided us with exceptional support, training, and industry opportunities, which will accelerate Airspection's ability to deliver low-carbon inspections even sooner."

Designed to give emerging entrepreneurs the opportunity to distil and articulate their business proposition in front of a live audience, the Inside Innovation event featured quick-fire pitches from 50 semi-finalists in the Converge, Create Change and Net Zero Challenge categories. They were judged by a panel of business experts from Converge’s partner network including Gianna Huhn, Head of Academic Partnerships at SSE, Siobhan Moore, Senior Investment Manager at SIS Ventures, and Ian Smith, Head of Investor Partnerships at CPI Enterprises.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Executive Director of Converge, said: “Pitching is a crucial skill for entrepreneurs, especially those seeking funding to grow their businesses. That’s why our training programme incorporates pitching as a core element, and why Inside Innovation – our annual event dedicated to the art of the pitch – remains a firm fixture in the Converge calendar.

“But there’s more to this event than just mastering the pitch. It’s an incredible opportunity and indeed, a privilege, to be surrounded by ground-breaking ideas and discoveries with the potential to reshape our world. Witnessing such innovation first hand is a testament to the vibrancy of our Scottish university sector, a fact we should all celebrate.”

Airspection has received support from Strathclyde Inspire, the University’s flagship entrepreneurship programme, which supports and encourages entrepreneurship in all its forms, offering entrepreneurial opportunities and training to all students, staff and alumni.