Female entrepreneurs have won the three main Challenge categories at the 2020 Converge Awards for the first time.

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, praised this year’s Converge cohort as having “the very qualities and the mindset that the Scottish Government will continue to encourage and support”.

Ms Sturgeon made the comments in a virtual keynote address which sharply threw the spotlight on 18 emerging businesses who reached this year’s Converge global final, the annual celebration of academic innovation and entrepreneurship.

READ MORE: Female-led businesses in Scotland have been 'hit harder' by Covid-19

Earth Blox, which is a University of Edinburgh start-up run by Dr Genevieve Patenaude, a senior lecturer from the school of geosciences, won the flagship Converge Challenge Award.

The Impact Challenge, sponsored by Social Investment Scotland, was won by Leia Kennedy of Aquaponics Garden from the Fife-based Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Elena Höge, a design and digital media Masters graduate from the University of Edinburgh, secured the top prize for the Creative Challenge thanks to her newly founded start up, Yaldi Games, an interactive and educational nature experience game production company.