Guest blog by Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, Converge
At the end of last month, the 11th Converge programme – Scotland’s largest company creation programme for our academic community – came to an end and its best projects were awarded a total of £300,000 in prizes. The newly announced prize winners will be joining the ranks of a very esteemed group of successful entrepreneurs, many of whom have recently made the news.
The latest announcement was made by the microbiome therapeutics company, EnteroBiotix - the 2015 Impact Challenge winner from the University of Aberdeen, who raised over $21m Series A financing. The company’s vision is to transform the standard of care for patients suffering from cancer and other deadly diseases through microbiome regulating therapeutics and in doing so, create a sustainable pharmaceutical company.
Current Health, winner of the 2014 KickStart Challenge from the University of Dundee, specialising in ‘remote’ healthcare delivery outside the hospital environment, raised £31million this year and created 100 new jobs both in Scotland and the United States.
Elasmogen, a spin-out from the University of Aberdeen, and 2015 Converge Challenge runner up is developing therapeutics for auto-inflammatory diseases that have recently been proven to stop COVID-19 infections. It’s worth noting that Elasmogen has raised a total of £4.5m in grants and £5.2m in equity investment over the last 6 years.
Every one of these companies, and those who are just beginning their start-up journey and raising their first seed round, are a true credit to Scotland’s ambition to be an entrepreneurial nation that builds its economy on innovative, resilient and sustainable businesses.
It is further proof that Converge plays a key role within the academic community and is seen as a force for good for the Scottish Economy – facts which were recognised in an independent economic evaluation report published in 2020. 12 months on, the figures contained in that report have been greatly exceeded, because some of our alumni have moved so fast in securing millions in investment, both at home and overseas.
Converge’s own record shows that the programme has, to date, supported around 300 new companies who have collectively raised around £190m with approximately £150m being in equity investment.
This is a big success for Scotland and the Scottish economy – more so when you consider these companies have been responsible for creating new jobs, 500+ and growing, and are developing products and services that are improving people’s lives. With 40% of Converge alumni companies being 3 years’ old or younger, we can expect the economic and social impact to grow exponentially in the coming years.
It is no surprise that all Scottish Universities have pledged support to Converge going forward, given that the programme has made such a difference in the Scottish entrepreneurial eco-system.
It is clearly too early to say what level of investment awaits this year’s Converge cohort, but when we see the development of emerging businesses in areas such as med-tech, AI, renewables, and Net Zero, we know that the future for forging an entrepreneurial and innovation pathway for Scotland’s academic community remains as prosperous as ever.