Four entries from the University of Strathclyde have been named as finalists in academic company creation programme Converge which aims to uncover emerging spinouts and start-ups, acting as a catalyst to accelerate the creation of innovative products and services that will improve lives and safeguard our planet.

Finalists are spread across three of the competition’s four categories and are in contention to win a slice of this year’s prize pot which stands at £300,000 along with post-programme support and five days of bespoke business training.

The winners will be announced at the Converge awards ceremony on 30 September.

The companies have received support from Strathclyde Inspire, the University’s flagship entrepreneurship programme, which offers entrepreneurial training and opportunities to every student, staff member and alumnus.

Fiona Ireland, Head of Enterprise at Strathclyde said, “We have great pleasure in seeing Strathclyde well-represented in the final of the Converge programme. As a university, we actively promote and encourage entrepreneurship through a long-standing entrepreneurial culture and through the institution-wide Strathclyde Inspire strategy.

“These finalists are the latest examples of our extensive track record of producing successful spinouts, start-ups and other businesses. We wish them all well in the final.”

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, said: “If you had any doubts about the strength of university-led innovation in Scotland, particularly given the setbacks of the last 18 months, then this year’s Converge finalists quickly dispel those. Despite all the odds, the quality, creativity and sheer ingenuity of their business ideas is nothing short of exceptional and should give us great hope – not just for our economy but for people and planet too.

“Turning problems into opportunities is what entrepreneurs do best – even seemingly insurmountable problems like climate change. With COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, just around the corner, it’s great to see that Scotland’s university sector is rising to the challenge and creating a new generation of solutions that will one day turn the tide on the growing climate crisis”

The Strathclyde finalists are:

Converge Challenge

Dr Mallikarjun Chityala, graduate, Fitabeo Therapeutics Ltd – Fitabeo (FTx), a Strathclyde spinout company, was incorporated in April 2021. It is a speciality pharmaceutical company developing new medicine platforms for patients with advanced incurable diseases. FTx will use novel, patented technology to focus on the development of immediate and controlled release oral thin films for palliative care.

Dr Stuart Hannah, Research Associate, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Microplate – current antibiotic susceptibility testing is expensive and time-consuming, taking more than two days. Meanwhile, the wrong antibiotic may be prescribed which can be detrimental to patient health and can drive antibiotic resistance. Microplate has developed a rapid – taking less than an hour – low-cost, sensor-based, antibiotic susceptibility test, which provides a summary indication of which antibiotic to use for each patient with bacterial or fungal infections at the point of care.

Impact Challenge

Ruth Crozier, Business School graduate, Silver Lion Innovations – the company is a Scottish family start-up which focuses on digital health solutions, to allow people with immobility to self-manage their condition and promote their independence. It was founded after Ruth’s experience in caring for a parent managing their Parkinson’s Disease for the past 14 years. The first product, EasyOver, is a ‘smart’ mattress topper powered by technology that safely turns people with mobility issues over in bed, facilitating uninterrupted sleep for the person and those who care for them.

KickStart Challenge

Joe Gibson, graduate, Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Gibson Robotics – founded by the 2017 winner of the UK-wide Telegraph STEM Award, Gibson Robotics sets out to truly ensure safe airspace. Disruption to airports by drones costs the industry hundreds of millions every year but, more importantly, puts hundreds of lives at risk and with drones becoming cheaper and more common, these flying plastic problems will only get worse. Gibson Robotics has developed a rapidly responding fixed wing platform capable of safely capturing an aerial threat and handing it over to the relevant authorities – guaranteeing airspace safety to airports, prisons, public spaces and other critical infrastructure.

Converge is funded by the Scottish Funding Council, all 18 Scottish universities, Creative Scotland and a roster of partners and sponsors