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Winning pitch for Strathclyde students’ microgrid technology

View of John Anderson Campus from the north

A company founded by University of Strathclyde students has won a Scotland-wide award for its microgrid technology.

Fraser Stewart contested the Converge Pitch to your Peers competition for Connex Solar, who produce a smart controller that connects households to form community microgrids in developing countries.

He was joint winner of the £1000 prize in the competition’s Impact Challenge category with Sara Mair Bellshaw from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The competition was a virtual event with an audience including university principals, senior academic staff, entrepreneurs, investors, Converge funders and partners and media. Winners were chosen by an audience vote.

Fraser Stewart. Photo by Converge

Fraser said: “The Converge challenge is a really exciting initiative that provides a wealth of guidance for new start-ups across the country. The pitching competition in particular is a really practically useful event; the Converge team provide training and advice on pitching business ideas, which is a priceless skill for any business or academic group to have.

“The pitching competition itself was also a great opportunity to meet virtually with peers and experts alike, to hear about a host of exciting, bleeding-edge innovation currently happening across Scotland. Needless to say, this was a very motivating event and one we are exceptionally proud to be a part of, let alone to win!”

Contestants in the challenge are semi-finalists in the Converge Challenge, run by Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation programme for the Higher Education sector. The semi-finalists, including nine teams from Strathclyde, are now to submit business plans for a place in the overall final, to be held on 24 September.

Connex Solar comprises an interdisciplinary team developing microgrid technology to transform off-grid electrification in the developing world. The company’s Energy Box smart controller connects households to form community microgrids, allowing people to share electricity to generate income.

Converge Director Claudia Cavalluzzo said: “Pitching your business is one of the most important skills to harness as an entrepreneur. Whether it’s raising investment or gaining new customers, pitching is an essential skill which is why it is such a key part of our business training programme. Pitching doesn’t always come naturally, however, which is why I’ve been blown away by the standard of our semi-finalists this year.”