Staff Services Student Enterprise

Edinburgh companies through to Converge semi-finals

Excellio Labs' Kamila Malysz (left) and Kasia Ma
10 May 2024

Thirteen University of Edinburgh companies have made it through to the semi-finals of this year’s Converge Challenge.

Featuring emerging technologies that could change the way we eat, live, and safeguard our planet, these companies will now compete for funding and business support from Converge, which nurtures university innovation.

Converge Challenge

In the main Converge Challenge category are student startup Excellio Labs and staff project IDXSense.

Vet School PhD students Kamila Malysz and Kasia Ma founded precision medicine company Excellio Labs to develop cellular rejuvenation techniques for the cosmetic industry. Their technology leverages tissue-specific exosomes to reach previously unaddressed targets.

And chemistry platform IDxSense is set to spin out this autumn, under the leadership of Professor Marc Vendrell of the Institute for Regeneration and Repair, dedicated to creating in vitro diagnostic tests for a range of severe inflammatory conditions.

Create Change Challenge

In the Create Change category are startups SymphoMe, Ujamaa Spice and Gradatim. SymphoMe is a music education app offering a gamified, tailored tool to learn and teach music, founded by Edinburgh College of Art student Ifeanyichukwu Ezinmadu.

Ujamaa Spice was a winner at EI’s Inspire Launch Grow student enterprise awards 2023. Founded by molecular biology PhD student Rist Van de Weyer and CEO Jawahir Al-Mauly, it aims to decolonise the spice trade, working with smallholders in Zanzibar.

Psychology graduate Lizzie Smith founded Gradatim, which creates children’s picture books, to help parents, caregivers and health professionals deliver healthcare and illness-related news to young children.

Alexander Speakman of E.V.A. Biosystems

Net Zero Challenge

E.V.A. Biosystems, Raygonal and SolarSub are all semi-finalists working to tackle climate change. Alexander Speakman, a PHD student in the Institute of Bioengineering, founded E.V.A. Biosystems to produce biomaterials for packaging that will only degrade in landfill or seawater.

Winner of Edinburgh Innovations’ Summer Accelerator Demo Day 2023, Raygonal deploys deep tech to tackle food production in the world’s poorest regions, currently piloting an aquaculture system in Nigeria. Raygonal is led by founder and PhD graduate Dr Aliyu Dala (Electrical and Electronics Engineering, 2022).

And SolarSub, founded by Sebastiaan Schalkwijk from the School of Engineering, is designing passive cooling solutions for floating solar arrays.

Kickstart Challenge

Five student startups are in the Kickstart category.

With approximately 1 in 4 teenagers and 33 per cent of adults experiencing loneliness worldwide, Med School student Jessica Miller designed the Cubble app to change how people connect, date and make friends online, using a conversation-first approach, with matchmaking supported by AI.

Health-tech platform Djarapharma, founded by Business School postgrad student Ahmed Konneh, increases patients' access to affordable and quality medication in emerging economies by leveraging digital technology and AI.

EcoHeat Solution, founded by ECA Architecture postgrad student Aamir Wani, offers sustainable heating solutions for heritage buildings, using wood pellet as net zero carbon emission fuel.

SimPat Innovations is an AI-powered online medical education platform providing simulated patient experiences with personalised feedback. It was founded by David Bourne of Edinburgh Medical School.

And finally, SeaSat, founded by Solomon White of the School of Engineering, uses satellite images to monitor ocean health, assessing biological productivity, ecosystem development and carbon sequestration, predicting how these will respond to increases in temperature from global warming.

Dr John Lonsdale, Head of Enterprise at Edinburgh Innovations, said:

It’s fantastic to see our diverse companies so well represented at Converge again this year. Our Student and Staff Enterprise teams work hard to support students and staff on what can be a sometimes challenging, but always rewarding, journey through company formation to getting their ideas out into the world.
We wish them all the very best of luck at the finals in November. ”

Excellio Labs, SymphoMe, SimPat and E.V.A. Biosystems have also received Launch 20 pre-seed investment from Old College Capital, the University's in-house venture investment team.

Founders from ethnically diverse backgrounds make up 39% of the 2024 Converge cohort with nearly 50% coming from outside of the UK.

Commenting on this year’s cohort announcement, Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director of Converge said:

Innovation thrives on the intersection of creativity, curiosity and market needs and nowhere is this more apparent than in our 2024 cohort. Representing the very best academic innovators from across our world-beating university sector, their ideas have the potential to fundamentally change life as we know it. ”

All 100 semi-finalists will now be invited to attend in-depth business training, with the most advanced projects invited to pitch their ideas live to an invited audience of investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders on June 5 in Edinburgh.