Five Strathclyde finalists in Converge company creation programme

View of John Anderson Campus from the north

The University of Strathclyde has secured five places in the final of Converge 2020, Scotland’s leading academic company creation programme - the highest number from any university.

The finalists are spread across each of the competition’s three categories and account for nearly a third of the total of 18 companies.

They will be in contention to win a share of the £230,000 total prize fund of equity-free cash and in-kind business support.

The winners will be announced in an online webcast ceremony on Thursday 24 September, with guest speakers including Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Strathclyde’s finalists are:

  • Stuart Hannah, Microplate Dx, which has developed a rapid, low-cost, antibiotic susceptibility test that provides a summary indication of which antibiotic to use for each patient with bacterial or fungal infections – Converge Challenge
  • Robbie MacIsaac, MacIsaac Ltd, who has created the FLUX Blowpipe, a universal bagpipe blowpipe engineered to solve moisture issues for pipers, and in turn reduce their risk of pipers’ lung disease – Creative Challenge
  • Bartosz Soltowski and Fraser Stewart, Connex Solar, which is developing microgrid technology to transform off-grid electrification in the developing world – Impact Challenge
  • James Swinburne, Metacarpal, who has created an advanced and affordable body-powered prosthetic arm, which through a variation of 3D printing, could be manufactured anywhere at a low cost – Impact Challenge
  • Yanik Adam Nyberg, Seawater Solutions Ltd, an agri-environmental company that pioneers seawater farming for climate change by developing technology and approaches to turn degraded farmland into healthy wetland ecosystems where food is grown with seawater – Impact Challenge.

Paul Atkinson, founder of Par Equity and Chair of the Converge Strategic Advisory Board, said: “This year has unquestionably been a challenge for us all. Despite university campuses being in lockdown, the making of an entrepreneur lies in the unerring ability to overcome any obstacle and push on for success.

“That’s what we are seeing with this year’s exceptional final cohort and is what sets Converge apart as Scotland’s most prestigious company creation programme for our academic community.”

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, said: “For obvious reasons, our approach this year is different and wholeheartedly embraces the message that Scotland is an innovation powerhouse. The beauty of the virtual format is we can expect people joining us from across the globe.

“The last global economic downturn over a decade ago happened to coincide with the launch of some of the most successful start-ups, like WhatsApp, Groupon and Uber, so we should take inspiration from that.”

The final will be hosted from Doha, Qatar by Scottish news presenter Halla Mohieddeen.