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Converge Challenge brings together top academic and business leaders

Posted: 21st November 2016



Scotland’s leading company creation competition and entrepreneurship development programme for students, graduates and staff from the country’s universities and research institutes announces its new Strategic Advisory Board (SAB).

Comprising some of the country’s most respected and influential academics and business leaders, the members of the SAB will be ambassadors for Converge Challenge, advise on future funding opportunities and work to ensure the long term sustainability of the programme. In addition they will input to the strategic direction of Converge Challenge through offering their advice and expertise.

The new SAB will help build on the Converge Challenge ambition to ignite, nurture and grow the entrepreneurial mindset amongst universities and the academic community. With leading lights of academia and business on board, the SAB will identify the emerging challenges and opportunities to enhance the Scottish entrepreneurial community.

Launched in 2010 by Dr Olga Kozlova, Converge Challenge is a high profile pan-Scotland company creation competition and entrepreneurship development programme. The inaugural SAB meeting took place on 16th Nov 2016 during Global Entrepreneur Week.

The SAB members are:


  • Paul Atkinson, Founder & Partner, Par Equity LLP
  • Conrad Chin, CTO at Netthings Ltd and Chairman (non-executive), Blackford Analysis Ltd
  • Professor Sir Pete Downes, Principal & Vice-Chancellor, University of Dundee
  • Dr Stuart Fancey, Director, Research & Innovation, Scottish Funding Council
  • Susan Fouquier, Regional Managing Director Business Banking Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Adrian Gillespie, Managing Director of Operations, Growth Companies, Innovation and Infrastructure, Scottish Enterprise
  • Dr Roddy Macdonald, Head of Higher Education and Science Division, Scottish Government Advanced Learning and Science Directorate
  • Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal & Vice-Chancellor, University of Strathclyde
  • Professor David Sigsworth OBE, Chairman, Sigma Capital Group plc
  • Professor Richard Williams, Principal and Vice Chancellor, Heriot-Watt University
  • Professor Lesley Yellowlees CBE, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Science & Engineering, The University of Edinburgh
  • Sandy Finlayson, Chair, Converge Challenge
  • Dr Olga Kozlova, Director, Converge Challenge

Sandy Finlayson Chair of Converge Challenge, said:

Formation of the Strategic Advisory Board represents a big new step for Converge Challenge and I am delighted to see such an impressive group of leaders from academia and business come together to advise us on strategy and ensure that Converge keeps developing and delivering best value to our participants and stakeholders. We live in times of rapid change both in terms of technological development and societal shift and it is important that Converge stays ahead of the game. The Board members will bring new, diverse ideas and will enable the team to reach for new heights.”

Susan Fouquier Regional Managing Director, Business Banking Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland said:

I am delighted to be joining the Converge Challenge Strategic Advisory Board and look forward to working with the other members on the strategic development of the programme. Converge routes are firmly based within higher education but it is important that the programme receives input from investment and the wider business community, to ensure that our budding entrepreneurs receive the best possible support. Working with SMEs is one of the key targets for Royal Bank of Scotland and it is great to be offered another opportunity to contribute to Scotland Can Do agenda.”

Converge Challenge is recognised as the leading opportunity for students, recent graduates and academic staff across the Higher Education sector. Jointly the companies formed within Converge Challenge have raised over £37 million of funding through grants, investment and sales, and they employ 158 staff. The Converge Challenge programme is instrumental in the creation of world leading products and services which are already making an invaluable contribution towards Scotland becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial nation.<span “=””> Former Converge participants have jointly formed 62 companies with 41% incorporation rate and over 80% surviving beyond three years. Two thirds of the companies formed are technology companies with high growth potential for global trading. The sectors cover Life Sciences, Energy and Renewables, ICT, Financial Services, Construction, Fashion and others.


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