Four of the six potential businesses from the University of Dundee aiming to land the £60,000 prize of this year’s Converge Challenge are from the Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression.

The annual programme funded by eight Scottish Universities and the Scottish Funding Council aims to give students and staff from all Scottish universities and research institutes the chance to exploit the commercial potential of their inventions.

A record number of 60 entries have been received from across Scotland’s university community this year and the University of Dundee entrants face stiff competition to win this highly regarded award. The University of Dundee entries are business propositions to develop a variety of ideas for data handling in hospital wards and laboratories, a cooking club, energy efficient devices and unmanned vehicles.

The entrants from the Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression are: Triantafyllos Gkikopoulos, Vijender Singh, Ramasubramanian Sundaramoorthy, and John Biddlestone.

Sonia Rocha, Deputy Director of the Centre said, “I’m delighted that so many of our researchers have entrepreneurial aspirations. The Centre has always promoted the importance of the social and economic impact of our research on the wider community; innovation is at the heart of everything we do.”

John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth said, “The Converge Challenge programme represents an opportunity for Scotland’s students and researchers to develop their knowledge and commercial skills, while providing them with the validation and confidence they require to encourage their entrepreneurial spirit. The growth that Converge Challenge has enjoyed over the past four years is testament to how important competitions like this have become in university circles.”

Converge Challenge Director, Olga Kozlova commented, “The number of entrants reached this year has surpassed our expectations as Scotland’s universities and research community continue to unearth some fantastic business ideas, innovations and inventions amongst its students and staff.

“For such a small country, we can be proud of our ability to continuously create and innovate. It appears to be something embedded within our higher education population that we manage to produce so many budding entrepreneurs looking to further crystallise their ideas into proper businesses. Entries have been received from a variety of disciplines right across the higher education landscape. We now have the task of whittling these entries down to a short-list of 30, before the Elevator Pitch stage on 6th June at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.”

At the Elevator Pitch stage, a panel of judges – highly respected figures from the Scottish business community – will review each entrant as they participate in a 60 second pitch. From there 30 participants will go through a further two stages to battle it out to be crowned Converge Challenge winners at a gala dinner being held in September.

Converge Challenge is only in its fourth year but is attracting a growing number of applicants year-on-year. As well as the largest cash prize of its type available, it gives students and members of staff of any Scottish university and research institute access to training and support to develop their entrepreneurial skills and explore commercial potential of their inventions. This year’s entries cover a wide range of innovative businesses, from consumer products and novel drugs, to renewable energy devices, web applications and service based businesses.

The Scottish Funding Council has pledged £525,000 of funding over the next three years, in addition to Scotland’s eight research universities pledging financial support to the tune of £360,000 over the same period, as Scotland’s flagship entrepreneurial business competition continues to flourish.

Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, St Andrews, Stirling and Strathclyde universities are all jointly funding the training and prizes for Converge Challenge which is open to all Scottish Universities and Research Institutes.