Two Edinburgh Napier university projects now through to the 2020 KickStart challenge

December 16, 2019

Large increase in projects looking to tackle the climate emergency

Technology and Engineering, Life Sciences and the Creative Industries most represented sectors

Claudia Cavalluzzo and Adam Kosterka from Converge

Semi-finalists now chase a place in the KickStart Awards final with a prize package of £15,000 to accelerate the commercialisation of their ideas

A biodegradable coffee cup made from coffee waste; a sensor that checks if runway conditions are safe during aircraft approach and landing; a patent pending solution for the diagnosis and therapy of ‘lazy eye’, a condition affecting 230 million children worldwide – these are just some of the ground-breaking ideas emerging from this year’s pool of KickStart semi-finalists.

32 trail-blazing entrepreneurs from across Scotland’s world-class universities are now through to the next stage of the Converge KickStart Challenge, an early-stage entrepreneurial development programme for university staff, students and recent graduates across Scotland.  This includes two innovative projects from Edinburgh Napier University.

Among them is Llogari Casas Cambra with 3finery, an augmented reality software solution that morphs the appearance of real-world objects with realistic, physically based appearance and shadows.  With applications across mobile apps, entertainment and interactive toys, 3finery enables inanimate objects to interact, play and receive messages remotely as though they were magically coming to life.

Aimed at innovative projects embarking on the first steps of the commercialisation journey, KickStart helps academic entrepreneurs, from all sectors, test and validate their business ideas with the aim of establishing commercial viability. Technology and Engineering, Life Sciences and the Creative Industries are the most represented sectors this year with a significant proportion of projects focused on solving critical environmental problems such as pollution, climate change and waste reduction.

This includes Mark Dorris from Edinburgh Napier University with Mercel, a project producing sustainable alternatives to the petrochemical-derived ingredients found in many personal care products. Using nanomaterials derived from a sustainable seaweed source, Mark’s formulations are fully biodegradable, ingestible and free of harsh chemicals.

From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks and what starts with an idea, with a lightbulb moment, can in time turn out to be a major business success story. This week for instance, 2014 KickStart winner, Chris McCann, CEO of Current Health announced a $11.5m investment round.  2020 shows all the signs of being just as prolific a year with incredibly innovative and impactful projects being shortlisted for the 2020 KickStart programme

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, is delighted with the range and diversity of this year’s projects and comments:

Every year we wait for the KickStart application deadline with trepidation, not knowing how many or what type of projects will come through. However, the breadth and creativity of applications that the challenge attracts never fail to disappoint and this year is no exception.


It’s also heartening to see so many Universities responding to the climate emergency by supporting many incredible ideas and innovations that have the power to change lives.  It’s great to see a new generation of entrepreneurs in Scotland joining the fight to keep our planet not only surviving but thriving

We look forward to working with our KickStart cohort in the months ahead and helping them refine and validate their early-stage business ideas through customer discovery training, pitch coaching and the wrap-around support offered by our team and partners”


Semi-finalists will now be invited to take part in two days of intensive business training designed specifically for academic entrepreneurs.  They will then be asked to submit a business case with the very best asked to pitch at an Awards Final in February with one lucky winner taking home a £10,000 cash prize.  A runner-up will also receive £5,000 in cash.

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