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Trains, planes, rockets and skincare – Scotland’s innovative students lead the way

Scotland’s status as a hotbed for innovative new ideas has been underlined as the winners of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise Catalyst Award are announced today (17 June 2020).

Four students from Scottish universities have been awarded an equal share of a £16,000 cash prize and will now go on to receive two years of dedicated support from leading advisors as they accelerate their business start-ups.

More than 70 students from University of Edinburgh, University of Abertay, University of Dundee, University of Strathclyde, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Glasgow and Robert Gordon University entered this year’s Catalyst Award programme which recognises the very best of early stage ventures.

A shortlist of 16 students pitched online on to a panel of judges on 11 and 12 June and included a range of innovative business ideas across the architecture, transport, technology, tourism, beauty, education, and fashion industries.

The successful students and their business ideas are:

  • Marwa Ebrahim, a graduate of the University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art with Atypical Cosmetics – skincare products uniquely tailored to the needs of each customer through AI powered customisation.

  • Joe Gibson, a University of Strathclyde student with Gibson Robotics which is developing a kinetic counter-drone solution controlled by AI to maintain safe airspace around national infrastructure.

  • Hamish Geddes, a University of Edinburgh graduate with Lenz ‘Traction Hub’ – a solution for improving traction on railway lines, combating the problem of icy weather or leaves on the line disrupting travel through the use of electromagnetism.

  • David Robertson, a University of Edinburgh graduate with Thistle Rocketry Ltd – a single payload rocketry designed for deploying cube satellites without the logistical difficulties of piggybacking on a larger, multi-payload launch.

Fiona Godsman, chief executive of Scottish Institute for Enterprise, said: “The SIE Catalyst Award recognises talented students in Scotland that are developing technologies that have the potential to create global impact.

“Now more than ever, our students and budding entrepreneurs need reassurance that they have the support they need to develop their innovation and leadership abilities as we live through unpredictable times.

“As we all adapt to new models of working, SIE is committed to working with universities and colleges to enhance their offering through dedicated training, workshops and online learning opportunities for students who want to start their own business or social enterprises. Scotland has a vibrant network of innovators and future leaders that we have a responsibility to champion.”

SIE will continue to support all shortlisted finalists to help take their start-up ventures to the next level.

The Catalyst Award 2020 finalists in full:

Student University Idea
Jodie Sinclair University of Dundee
(graduate)

Theo – ACL Smartband’ – a tech wearable that allows you to visualise and track your muscle development, even when progress is not visible. 
Jamie Bankhead University of Abertay
(student)

Archipelayo – a video game aimed at children living with Cystic Fibrosis, improving health outcomes by gamifying and tracking progress in commonly neglected vital breathing exercises
Joe Gibson University of Strathclyde
(student)

Gibson Robotics – developing a new AI driven anti-drone technology to protect airspaces.
Matt Dunn        University of Strathclyde
(graduate)

A unique idea for improving urban air quality
Siri Price University of Strathclyde
(graduate)

Camping rucksack with integrated weatherproof sleeping bag, designed for rough sleepers and disaster relief, with secondary marketing to campers and festival-goers
Daniel Jack University of Strathclyde
(student)

‘alt stays Scotland’ – repurposing used shipping containers to create offbeat, eco-friendly accommodations for travellers seeking unique experiences
Iain Mackie University of Glasgow
(student)

Datasaur – AI powered e-commerce data analytics, giving small e-commerce businesses access to predictive financial and marketing modelling
Marwa Ebrahim University of Glasgow &
Glasgow School of Art (graduate)

Atypical Cosmetics – skincare products uniquely tailored to the needs of each customer through AI powered customisation
James Marshall Edinburgh Napier University
(graduate)

10T – a sustainable fashion label, upcycling abandoned festival tents into style-conscious streetwear
Ross O’Hanlon University of Edinburgh
(student)

Grip Assist glove – health tech wearable that uses robotics paired with user software to both enhance and develop grip strength over time  
David Robertson University of Edinburgh
(graduate)

Single payload rocketry designed for deploying cube satellites without the logistical difficulties of ‘piggybacking’ on a larger, multi-payload launch 
Hamish Geddes University of Edinburgh
(graduate)

Lenz ‘Traction Hub’ – a solution for improving traction on railway lines, combating the problem of icy weather or leaves on the line disrupting travel through the use of electromagnetism
Collin Powers   University of Edinburgh
(student)

Ellyra – VR technology allowing tennis players to connect with coaches in real time from anywhere in the world, as well as tracking performance data and analytics
Jack Noble       University of Edinburgh
(student)

Vennle – Data analytics platform designed to measure and manage transportation efficiency & outcomes in large cities
Elena Höge      Edinburgh College of Art
(graduate)

Wholesome – a video game aimed at children and families, marrying foraging, crafting, and cooking mechanics with real-world educational content to encourage engagement with nature
Alistair Lea & Shehan Heguragamage Robert Gordon University
(students)

Archilink – an online database that connects people with a new project to a range of architects based on their skills and specialisms.

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