Corien steals the show at Converge Challenge Awards

Corien steals the show at Converge Challenge Awards

Issued: Tue, 10 Oct 2017 14:52:00 BST

Nicola Sturgeon and Corien Staels at awards ceremony

An airflow cushion that keeps wheelchair users comfortable and cool has won this year’s Converge Challenge Design and Creativity award.

The innovation, by Business School alumna Corien Staels of Staels Design, was created to meet a recognised need in rehabilitation product design. WheelAir is a battery powered airflow backrest cushion designed to be supportive and increase comfort whilst keeping the user cool. It fits all active lightweight wheelchair users.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon presented Corien with the award for her product at the Converge Challenge award ceremony in the Glasgow Science Centre on 28 September.

Converge brings together the most ambitious and creative thinkers from academia, research and business, across all sectors and industries. The awards were set up to champion innovative ideas in digital media, textiles, architecture and design. The design and creativity award is valued at £31,500 including £15,000 in cash and £16,500 in business support.

Enterprising Corien, set up Staels Design, a company that aims to meet the needs in rehabilitation product design while studying for an MSc in International Business and Entrepreneurship at the Adam Smith Business School. WheelAir is her first invention.

Corien said: “Winning the Design and Creativity Award means a lot because of the specific recognition we received for our innovative design, and because of the validation of the more academic orientation of the judges who gave us a good grilling.”

More than 200 of Scotland’s most successful and respected business and entrepreneurial leaders attended the event and speakers on the night included Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP; Bob Keiller CBE; Professor Sally Mapstone; and David Sibbald OBE.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: “Well done to all of the winners and finalists of this year’s Converge Challenge. Awards like Converge are a fantastic way of developing the talents of Scotland’s many young entrepreneurs and innovators. But they’re also an opportunity to showcase one of Scotland’s great traditional strengths – generating new ideas, products and technologies, supported by our world-class educational institutions. I want to see a ‘can do’ culture define us as a country on every level, and the talent and determination of these finalists shows that we are well on the way to fulfilling that vision.”

Converge Challenge is a high profile pan-Scotland competition and entrepreneurship development programme for staff, students, and recent graduates of Scottish Universities and Research Institutes, aimed at creating a new generation of entrepreneurs in Scotland. The awards recognise the entrepreneurs behind Scotland’s best and brightest ideas. / 0141 330 5463