Female founders triumph at academic innovation event

Female-led businesses triumphed at Converge’s Inside Innovation pitching event last night.

The event saw 49 Scottish university start-ups and spin-outs participating in a competition at Edinburgh’s Dovecot Studios, sharing their ideas with a room full of investors and business leaders.

Hosted by Converge, the largest technologies, products and ideas emerging from Scottish universities which have the potential to grow into successful businesses.

The semi-finalists from three challenge categories – converge, net zero and create change – had just 60 seconds to secure the vote of more than 100-strong audience.

Winning best pitch in the Converge Challenge was Jodie Sinclair from Theo Health, a healthtech start-up originating out of the University of Dundee.

The challenge of patent-pending smart clothing and app have been created to bridge the gap between physical injury and mental wellness. She was inspired by her own personal journey, following a career-ending sports injury. Theo Health’s compression shorts include muscle sensors and provide real-time feedback, allowing wearers to measure, track and analyze their muscle development, even before progress is physically visible.

Kaia Waxenberg was victorious in the net zero category with her carbon footprint measuring tool, Agrecalc. A spin-out from Scotland Rural College, it has created a evidence-based tool for users across the food supply chain, enabling them to identify the key sources of carbon emissions, monitoring improvements and benchmark key performance indicators.

Finally, in the eco-conscious social enterprise emerging from the University of Stirling, the winner was Alexandra McKenna from Sioda. It provides a wide range of styles for women of all sizes.

Leading entrepreneur and investor Ana Stewart, who was recently named as a chair of the Scottish Government’s Women in Enterprise Review, delivered the keynote address.

In it, it has called the Scottish investment ecosystem open to change – flexing to better include the whole gamut of modern entrepreneurs, rather than expecting them to mold their ideas to fit a narrow environment. She noted that innovative and thriving Scotland needs to be supported by entrepreneurs from all backgrounds.

Stewart, partner at Eos Advisory, said: “Innovation is the lifeblood of every economy, and it is fantastic to see the emerging pipeline of talent and entrepreneurship from Scotland’s academic sector.

“What we have to do now is to reflect our changing world and demographics, diversity is simply good for business and critical to ensure that we are open to new ideas to solve our most pressing challenges as a society. ”

Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, added: “Each idea has a potential to change lives and benefits millions of people – to turn it into a tangible commercial business that takes determination, drive and tons of passion.

“Our three triumphant pitchers are in a position to do so with our flagship awards ceremony later this year when they can compete with the rest of this year.”

All 49 businesses will use last night’s experience to refine their business models in November, with the ultimate winner of Converge’s network of professional partners, which includes investors, lawyers and business experts.

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