News & Blog

Read the latest business news, blogs and thought leadership articles from our members, as well as updates on the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce's work in the city.

News & Blog

Converge Challenge Top 30 Showcase To Business Leaders

Posted: 1st June 2018

The Converge Challenge 2018 best of the best Top 30 came together after three days of comprehensive business training to showcase the most innovative ideas emerging from Scottish Universities. They had just 60 seconds to present their innovative ideas to a panel of experts and esteemed industry professionals.

Peter Orrell from the James Hutton Institute has just won the Converge Challenge ‘Ready Steady Pitch’ award with MycoNourish which uses fungi to act as a secondary root system, to improve plant health.

  • Winner: Peter Orrell, James Hutton Institute with MycoNourish
  • Runner up: Richard McAdam, Edinburgh Napier University with RS McAdam Technology
  • Third place: Tayyaba Nafees, Abertay University with @CyberShellSol

Converge Challenge harnesses and supports Scotland’s emerging entrepreneurial leaders from academia. It provides them with the skills and confidence to develop their commercial propositions to meet societal challenges and become key drivers of the economy.

Following the intensive three day training, the Converge cohort is equipped with a robust business skills set to further develop their ventures with the aspiration of replicating the global success of Scotland’s giants Skyscanner and BrewDog.

Last year’s Converge Challenge 2017 elevator pitch winner went to Dr Holly Butler of University of Strathclyde with ClinSpec Dx, a blood test-based diagnostics that can provide early detection of brain tumours, which result in the early death of more patients than any other cancer.

Following this success, ClinSpec Dx went on to become the runner up of the Converge Challenge and secure a total prize fund of £42,000, including £25,000 in cash and £17,000 in business support.

Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge said:

“The calibre of the pitches last night was exceptional and I want to praise each and every one of the cohort involved.

“I am encouraged by the development of the participants who each year become more polished and more ambitious to deliver outstanding projects and companies!  

“The impact of being shortlisted within our programme results in honing pitching and influencing skills and is another step for the participants on their own journey in becoming the next generation of Scotland’s entrepreneurs.”

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, said:

“Our universities are world class and it is heartening to see that this group of the shortlisted finalists in the Converge Challenge includes a trend toward technology, health and robotics.  

“This reflects how we are at the cutting edge of these themes both in the scientific research and at applied development for economic growth and betterment of Scotland’s society and economy.” 

Peter Orrell, winner of last night’s elevator pitch, said:

“I am so excited and proud to have been chosen as the winner from the 30 Converge Challenge pitches. The training and support we received in the three days leading up to Ready Steady Pitch was immense. The confidence and abilities of everyone who participated has grown enormously and I am looking forward to applying these skills not just throughout the rest of the competition but beyond.”

On Thursday 31 May, as the concluding part of the Converge Challenge Entrepreneurial Training Programme, there is the popular Converge event called "Ready, Steady, Pitch!" which will also include an exhibition of the top 30 Converge participants. The winners of The Converge Challenge 2018, is Peter Orrell from the James Hutton Institute with MycoNourish . The Top 30 Converge Challenge participants were each asked to pitch their business idea to the audience and judges in just 60-seconds!  No notes allowed.  Just one very big countdown clock! The judging panel will carefully evaluate the pitches and a winner will be chosen.  This event is one of the highlights of the Converge calendar and will provide you with an opportunity to see the best projects developed by students and staff from Scotland’s universities and research institutes in action.

The winners of each of the three Converge Challenge categories will be announced at a gala awards ceremony at the Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh on 20 September 2018.


  •  Converge Challenge Business Surgeries – 27 & 28 June 2018
  • Business Plan Submission – 27 July 2018
  • Converge Challenge Top 10 Selection – 17 August 2018
  • KickStart and Social Enterprise top 15 Selection –20 August 2018
  • Top 6 Selection – Wednesday 30  August 2018
  • KickStart and Social Enterprise winners Selection 03 September 2018
  • Awards –20 September 2018

The Converge Challenge 2018 categories are:

  • Converge: a developed idea
  • KickStart: for early stage ideas
  • Social Enterprise : positive impact on social and environmental issues

A full list of all finalists can be found on the Converge Challenge website:


Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
Read more here