16 Academic Entrepreneurs apply to Converge Challenge

Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation programme for the Higher Education sector, has received record numbers of applications to its 2020 programme, despite concerns about the impact of Covid-19.

Applications, which have been growing incrementally year-on-year, are up by 17% compared to the same round in 2019, with all 18 of Scotland’s universities represented. This brings the total number of applications to Converge 2020 to 260. Converge Challenge, the oldest category of the Converge programme and its crown jewel, has seen the highest increase with 27% more applications compared to 2019.

There were 16 applicants from the University, and you can read the bios below.


Creative Challenge

Name: Akash Angral; Business: ArchiPal-Rent an Architect; Position: Postgraduate Student

ArchiPal is a two-sided digital marketplace for architects, consultants & clients seeking affordable & accessible building-related advice for new-built, remodelling and DIY projects. Operating as an e-commerce platform, professionals and their services will be consolidated into the ArchiPal system, in turn, creating jobs and exciting opportunities by removing quotation-based fees. Platform members will benefit from an equal playing field to gain additional income, increase portfolios and further enhance their careers by providing mentorship to emerging architects. With fixed-price products, increased transparency and enhanced accountability, it will become easier for prospective clients to seek, compare and access affordable architectural advice locally.


Impact Challenge

Name: Omotigho Shalomi; Business: AfroBlossom; Position: Graduate  

A brief summary of my project is to develop a one-stop product and services platform that serves the needs of women and men with textured within the Afro-Caribbean community. AfroBlossom will also be providing its services and products to women and men that suffer from Alopecia within Scotland with the aim of expanding its services to other parts of the UK. This platform aims to provide convenience, bridge the gap, and build self-esteem for our customers with the personalised service we will be providing. I intend to digitally transform the hair industry for women and men within these two markets.


Name: Amol Deshmukh; Business: Amol; Position: Research Associate/Fellow

Globally over half million children die every year due to improper hand hygiene. Our business proposes a novel and exciting solution to teach, encourage, and monitor handwashing for school children in a fun and engaging way. A wall-mounted social robot endowed with artificial intelligence that can boost hand hygiene compliance by more than 40%, which in return can reduce germ transmission, save public health costs, and save lives. With recent outbreaks of COVID-19, handwashing is considered as the most effective measure to prevent spread of the virus. We have identified a gap in the market which no other solution offers.


Name: Melanie van de Velde; Business: Butterfly Adventures; Position: Postgraduate Student

700 million people live on less than $2 a day. Worldwide, the poverty rate in rural areas is more than three times higher than in urban areas. Leisure travel turned over $4.5 trillion in 2018 and is expected to create 25 percent of all new future jobs globally. Sadly, rural areas that need this opportunity most are often left aside by tourism. Butterfly Adventures provides expert curation data to travel companies promoting authentic, remote experiences, certifying ethics standard (aligned with the UN SDG Framework) to safeguard impact. The scalable model empowers communities to tackle the root cause of poverty sustainably.


Name: Ana Isabel Bacallado Almandoz; Business: I Speak Mental Health; Position: Undergraduate Student

UK universities face a mental health crisis. Academic environments prove detrimental to the mental health of students, while counselling services don’t have capacity to cope with excess service demands. Our mission is to make mental healthcare an accessible right to students, providing an evidence-based mental health first aid kit. Kit items are modelled on psychological interventions used in research and clinical practices, each evidenced to improve well-being. Examples include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Flashcards, a Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise Ball and an Active Listening Role-playing Game. Similarly to first aid kits, it acts as a first responder as symptoms come up.


Name: Lynn Wilson; Business: Lynn Wilson; Position: Postgraduate Student

Circular Economy Wardrobe (CEW) is an online and onsite training service to support low income households to manage their clothing consumption, care practices and to ensure that clothing is kept circulating for as long as possible. Key training services include; clothing choice for longevity, economic laundry practices and reducing the stigma attached to clothing reuse and sharing. The service offers training and support via housing associations, local authorities and community organisations. Products include information cards with clothing purchasing, laundry, care and disposal tips.


Name: Gandit Pichatwatana; Business: Mendet Eco Micro; Position: Postgraduate Student

We are a biotechnology company that uses waste residues (such as brewery wastewater) to produce oil spill clean-up product called biosurfactant to achieve net negative pollution. We help food industries to upcycle their waste and reduce the cost of waste management. Our product is especially good for oil spill clean-up as biosurfactant is widely known to be non-toxic, biodegradable and more effective than the currently used synthetic counterpart. Our product is also multifunctional and many industry including agricultural and food industry can benefit from its versatile non-toxic properties, which opens other markets in the future.


Name: Alexandra Kangas; Business: SEME Ltd; Position: Undergraduate Student

Since 2010 rough sleeping estimates have increased by 165%. This, as well as the issue of our growing cashless society leaving these people behind, is addressed by our pathway and digital donation system. SEME works to make sure that the homeless community receives increased support through methods which promote self-empowerment and autonomy, while also enhancing transparency for those wishing to support and donate. Due to new Covid-19-related challenges and society’s increased reliance on digital tools and communication, SEME has also recently adapted its outreach model and is introducing a new feature -a unique platform which digitally aids those experiencing homelessness.


Name: Shushu Li; Business: Shushu Li Dingming Yu; Position: Postgraduate Student

We two founders are PhD candidate from the University of Glasgow. One is in the Children Literature and Literacy Programme and the other works at a local Chinese Language school as a tutor. In China, there are many language institutions using English pictures books to teach Chinese children English. Based on the unique function of picture books, our service also chooses picture books to teach children Chinese in Glasgow. Utilize teaching methods that conform to children's cognitive models to achieve the best language learning results. The National Centre for Children's book in the UK also inspires us.


Name: Catherine Aitken; Business: Virtual Writing Retreat; Position: Postgraduate Student

Virtual Writing Retreat (VWR) was created in response to the poor mental health of postgraduate researchers. VWR connects scholars globally to a community working on a shared working schedule. This creates structure, support and accountability. For this reason, we assist the PhD process and help to maintain the wellbeing of researchers. This service has been vital during COVID-19, creating 140+ connections a week: we are sold out most days!


Name: Samuel Horsch; Business: Zercular; Position: Undergraduate Student

At Zercular, we are driven to bridge the gap between zero waste markets, local produce, and online grocery delivery shopping. To overcome the consequences of living a disposable life, while maintaining its virtues of ease and affordability, we provide a customisable online food shopping subscription service in reusable containers and totes. Upon consumption, these are picked up, cleaned, and reused in one of our consecutive deliveries. Our service aims to drastically cut down on the waste produced by traditional supermarkets by establishing a circular economy model, which minimises negative environmental costs and creates a service for the future.



Converge Challenge


Name: Serban Buliga; Business: Armila; Position: Undergraduate Student

Metal and plastic manufacturers don’t meet their productivity potential and are under a high risk of uninformed decision making due to lack of factory machine performance indicators. In other words, money is lost due to inefficiencies and uninformed decisions while precious hours are spent on trying to get the right machine insights. We developed a hardware module that, installed on manufacturing machines, lets manufacturers collect and analyse data but also identifies working patterns, detects anomalies and maintenance requirements. This module is complemented by our web application and together will enable manufacturers to seamlessly recreate their factories in the virtual space.


Name: Leonardo Zussner; Business: bobbll; Position: Undergraduate Student

Bobbll is a mobile app that connects employers with a student looking for part-time jobs on a zero-hour contract basis. We aim to provide a flexible solution for many businesses after COVID-19 and simultaneously satisfy the needs of generation-‘Z’. Similar to the 2008 financial crisis, we believe that COVID-19 will cause a long-lasting economic turmoil. It will require businesses to reduce and control their operational costs more carefully. We aim to help businesses do exactly that, by reducing their HR-costs and allowing to scale/shrink their work size instantly. Bobbll will provide an affordable and agile solution for demand sensitive businesses.


Name: Anji Sandhu; Business: Empowered Earth; Position: Postgraduate Student

One in 10 women globally have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  Women with PCOS experience a wide range of symptoms including hirsutism, infertility, obesity, low self-esteem and depression.  Women with PCOS are more likely to develop endometrial cancer, cardiovascular issues and seven times more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes.  There is no pharmaceutical cure.  Using medical research, I have developed a management tool for PCOS called ‘PCOS Buddy™’ to help women manage the range of symptoms.  Using cutting-edge innovation, the app helps women to track their symptoms daily and safeguard their future health.


Name: Hannah Bialic; Business: HerpAlert; Position: Postgraduate Student

 This product would serve as a rapid lateral flow assay, similar in design to a pregnancy test, which would allow diagnosed patients with HSV-1 and/or HSV-2 to determine if they are contagious without the presence of lesions (commonly known as cold sores) at their areas of infection. Currently, there is no method of detection of viral shedding for sub-clinical patients even though patients are still highly contagious without the presence of the lesions associated with herpes-virus infection. HerpAlert would act as a simple to use and painless at home option for managing herpes-virus infections and limiting their spread.


Name: Zahin Razeen; Business: Quantum Polychemics; Position: Undergraduate Student

Quantum Polychemics biotechnology produces all-natural, non-toxic organic biopolymer. It was formed with UN SDG 9 and 14 with the mission of eradicating plastic pollution and paving the way for circular economic movement. Our team of experts led by Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Director General of Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission has developed the world’s first biopolymer out of jute cellulose after 18 years of extensive research that is 100% biodegradable.


First published: 4 June 2020

<< 2020