RSE Enterprise, Converge and Scottish EDGE
Collective speak with Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge to find out more about why the collective impact was so important for the success of former scientist at the University of Edinburgh Dr Kate Cameron.
Converge is Scotland’s largest company creation programme for staff, students and recent graduates of all Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. Their mission is to help the new generation of innovators, creators and ground-breakers turn their ideas into commercially viable businesses to help Scotland thrive.
Kate’s journey started when she received the Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship for her highly innovative and scaleable biotechnology business, Cytochroma.
Cytochroma uses state of the art science, expertise and robotics to deliver powerful models for drug discovery and development. Their technology predicts how drugs will react in a diverse population, in both health and disease, reducing the need for animal testing, making drug development more efficient.
She then went on to enter the Converge and EDGE Challenges in 2018. As a result of being shortlisted as a finalist in the 2018 Converge Challenge, she received business development, PR and marketing support from the organisation for a year.
In that same year, she won the HIGGS Edge Award, a specific award for businesses with scientific foundations and the grant funding secured allowed her to take a huge leap, kickstarting her lab work and taking some office space. The following year she was also a finalist in the Accelerator Awards, which us a programme run by investing women.
Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge comments,
Kate is a great example of someone who has used the eco-system in its best form. She has used the right kind of support at the right time so that she can then move on and you can see that she is now growing. It’s brilliant to be able to support people that we believe have the potential to succeed and we all do believe in her.
We are like a family with these other collective organisations and we get on and believe in the same things. We are not competing because we all want our innovators to succeed. We all understand that this is a collective impact. No one organisation could tick all of the boxes but the combination of them, create the perfect recipe for success.
On the flip side, Kate has also been a great ambassador for us and the face of our campaign pre-COVID because she realises that we have all played our part in supporting her journey.”
Converge has measures in place to track the success of each project they work on. They measure the impact of the alumni by looking at when they incorporated the business, what funds they have managed to raise, the jobs that each project has created and the survival rate of each of the businesses they work to support. Every 3-4 years they also commission an independent economic evaluation.
Dr Kate Cameron, founder of Cytochroma comments,
“Working with a collective has been invaluable and their support at each stage of my growth has really helped me to propel my business. The Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship has connected me to so many companies, Converge have supported me with business development and PR and the HIGGS Edge Award winners fund has allowed me to kickstart lab work and take office space.
So far I have managed to raise £330,000 just from grants and competitions and I have also now grown my team to three full-time employees, including myself. We are still in the pre-trading and product development phase of the business but our next step is to go for investment to get a bigger chunk of money that will support us to launch the products and develop services the year after. We will also be looking to put a sales team in place.”
Further to the financial and business success demonstrated by Kate, there are also a great many positive social implications that have resulted from the project. Kate’s business yields a societal health return on investment. Her products will go on to help other businesses as well as doctors and patients lives. Not least, she is also a woman and her success story serves as a hugely inspirational story for women residing across Scotland and beyond.
To find out more about the Converge Challenges, visit https://www.convergechallenge.com/
Converge is Scotland’s largest company creation programme for staff, students and recent graduates of all Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. Our mission is to help the new generation of innovators, creators and ground-breakers turn their ideas into commercially viable businesses to help Scotland thrive.
Converge is the only programme of its kind bringing together academic entrepreneurs from every university in Scotland under one roof. We offer intensive training – tailored specifically to academic entrepreneurs –one-to-one guidance enabling staff, students and graduates to explore the commercial potential of their research, creativity and ideas.
They are funded by the Scottish Funding Council, all 18 Scottish Universities, Creative Scotland and a network of professional partners. They also enjoy close working ties with the wider Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem including investors, accelerators and support agencies.