Edinburgh Innovations clients have been crowned three of the seven winners at the Converge Awards 2021.
Edinburgh’s biggest winner at the online finals was engineering graduate Ross O’Hanlon, founder of BioLiberty, which won the Impact Challenge for sustainable businesses with the potential for significant and long-term social or environmental impact.
BioLiberty is a biotech start-up developing a robotic glove using artificial intelligence that could help millions of people recover muscle grip in their hands. Ross wins £34,900 in equity-free cash and in-kind business support to fund his business venture.
The winner of the KickStart Challenge, an early-stage category sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland with a £10,000 cash prize, went to MSc Artificial Intelligence graduate Thomas Cartwright, with DeepQA, a web application that uses AI to improve the quality, reliability and efficiency of software testing.
The Cisco Future Tech Award, sponsored by technology giant Cisco, went to Informatics PhD student Jonathan Feldstein with bennu.ai, a company using AI to create “the world’s smartest bin”. Designed to sort waste automatically, Jonathan’s innovation will help to address the growing issue of waste contamination which is driving up costs and sending over half a million tonnes of recycling to landfill in the UK alone. Jonathan wins £5,000 in cash plus a package of tailored support from Cisco including technology, advice and mentoring.
‘Resilience’ – Kate Forbes
In a live address to 27 finalists at Converge 2021, Kate Forbes MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy praised this year’s Converge cohort for their resilience in overcoming the recent crisis and remarked on how Converge is now a recognised economic force for Scotland.
All of the finalists and nominees demonstrated outstanding talent, drive and creativity. The ideas and spin-off businesses emerging from Scottish universities are world-class and we want to encourage and support more innovative, entrepreneurial and sustainable economic growth in this area.
Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy
Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, praised the finalists’ ability to progress innovation “despite all the odds” in a difficult year across the university sector.
The sheer ingenuity and creativity of this year’s Converge winners and finalists show just how innovative we can be as a nation which gives me great hope for our post-pandemic recovery.
Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge.
The top prize of the night totalling £74,200 in cash and in-kind business support went to University of Strathclyde graduate Mallikarjun Chityala, who triumphed in the main Converge Challenge category with Fitabeo Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company developing oral thin film medicines for palliative care patients with swallowing difficulties.
Converge, open to university staff, students and recent graduates across Scotland is funded by the Scottish Funding Council, all 18 Scottish universities, Creative Scotland and a roster of partners and sponsors, including Cisco, SSE, Royal Bank of Scotland and CPI Enterprises.