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ECCI start-ups sweep the leaderboard at Converge Challenge 2018

ECCI start-ups have scooped five of the ten prizes and more than half of total prize money at Converge Challenge - the awards which celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship in Scottish academia.

The centre's Climate-KIC Accelerator start-up Carbogenics won the top prize of £75,000, seeing off the other six innovative finalists in the Converge Challenge category. The University of Edinburgh spin-out, originally supported through ECCI's Ideas Lab, has invented a process that turns fibre-rich waste material like paper cups into a new material that can be used in anaerobic digestion and horticulture. (Picture courtesy of Lloyd Smith photography: Converge Challenge winners Jan Mumme (left) and Lidia Krzynowek of Carbogenics).

Recent Scottish ClimateLaunchpad finalist Crover won the The KickStart Award - a £5,000 prize for bringing to the market the first robotic device able to move within stored grains and measure conditions, enabling grain owners to minimise losses.

And ECCI ClimateLaunchpad alumni One Cherry won the Social Enterprise Award for their development of an online marketplace for second hand shops.

Climate-KIC Accelerator resident Martina Zupan and ClimateLaunchpad finalist Saskia Goeres were among three entrepreneurs selected by their peers and the Converge team to win the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and a cash prize of £1,000. Martina’s company Alterwaste creates eco-friendly products out of industrial waste by-products and Saskia's Sofa for Life service offers a customisable, washable and portable design extends the lifetime of sofas and enables reuse and recycling.

In total more than £160,000 worth of prizes was awarded to 10 entrepreneurs from universities and research institutes at the gala dinner attended by more than 200 representatives from higher education and the investment and entrepreneurial communities.

Lidia Krzynowek, Business Development Manager at Carbogenics, said: "Jan and I are over the moon - winning Converge Challenge represents a huge step in our company’s growth.

“The financial and business support provided by Converge Challenge will enable us to test the production of CreChar on a large scale, raise our profile and make Carbogenics investment-ready.”

Lorenzo Conti, founder of Crover, said: "Walking onto such an important stage was an incredible adrenaline rush! The award gives us a huge motivation to keep progressing and improving.

"Having five Converge winners linked to the centre further proves that ECCI is the natural place for the most innovative and talented climate-focused start-ups."

Martina Zupan, Founder and CEO of Alterwaste, said: “Running a start-up means a lot of ups and downs - and to make it through the downs, having an entrepreneurial spirit is vital.

"I'm delighted that through the Converge Challenge competition my determination and passion for making a positive environmental change didn't go unnoticed.

"I'm proud to be one of the Converge Challenge winners closely supported by ECCI, who clearly created a powerful community of game-changers that are needed to run a positive change.”

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