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Record entries for a £60,000 entrepreneurial prize fund

THE director of a major entrepreneurial prize for academics and students in Scotland has said it is on course to attract a record number of entries.

Olga Kozlova said entrants to the Converge Challenge have formed more than 20 companies, created 60 jobs and secured around £4 million funding.

Ms Kozlova expects this year's competition, the fifth to be run, to have somewhere between 70 and 80 entries, which would build on the 60 submitted in 2013.

She indicated the incorporation rate among shortlisted entrants is running at around 30% and said: "That is actually quite high. Some people go through the training with us and decide they want to stay doing academic research but we hope we encourage them all to think more entrepreneurially.

"If you want to build sustainable companies then you have to get sales and to do that you have to get to customers.

Ms Kozlova said she has been impressed by the volume of entries from women and academics who are immigrants to Scotland. Shortlisted companies go through a selection process before winners are announced in September.

The value of the top prize is £60,000. Previous winners include life sciences companies BryoActives and Arxbio, software business Bellrock Technology and medical equipment firm Saccade Diagnostics.

The competition has the Entrepreneurial Exchange as one of its backers for this year and is also operating a category for social enterprise for the first time.

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