Kaia Waxenberg, Research Associate at SRUC and the member of the Agrecalc team, has won 'Best Pitch’ in the Net Zero Category at prestigious Converge Challenge.
She was one of three up-and-coming female academic entrepreneurs who impressed investors and business leaders with their innovative solutions in health tech, agri-tech and eco-conscious fashion. Kaia's work on scientific and technical development of Agrecalc is instrumental for the evolution of Agrecalc into a fully-fledged software-as-a-service platform.
The occasion saw 49 of Scotland’s most exciting university start-ups and spinouts participate in a fast-paced pitching competition at Edinburgh’s Dovecot Studios, sharing their ideas with a room packed full of the country’s top investors and business leaders.
Kaia was victorious in the Net Zero category with the carbon footprint measuring tool, Agrecalc. A spinout from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Kaia has created an independent, evidence-based tool for users across the food supply chain, enabling them to identify and measure the main sources of carbon emissions, monitor improvements, and benchmark key performance indicators in their business operations.
Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director at Converge, said: “The innovation coming out of Scotland’s universities is astounding. Each idea presented last night has the potential to change lives and benefit millions of people. To turn an idea like that into a tangible commercial business takes determination, drive and tons of passion – and the Converge cohort delivered that, in spades.
“I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part in the speed pitching – it is no easy task to summarise your passion project in less than a minute. Our three triumphant pitchers are in pole position to do well at our flagship awards ceremony later this year when they will compete with the rest of this year’s cohort for the main cash prize.”
The two other winners are Jodie Sinclair from Theo Health, who won in the Converge Challenge category for her patent-pending smart clothing and app that have been created to bridge the gap between physical injury and mental wellness, and Alexandra McKenna from Sioda, an eco-conscious social enterprise that provides UK-wide online clothes hire service, offering a wide range of styles for women of all sizes, winning in the Create Change category.
Noting that diversity is ‘good for business’, entrepreneur, investor, and chair of the Women in Enterprise Review, Ana Stewart, called for flex in the Scottish investment ecosystem to better support a wider range of entrepreneurs.
She said: “Innovation is the lifeblood of every economy, and it is fantastic to see the pipeline of talent and entrepreneurialism emerging from Scotland’s academic sector. What’s also great to see is future business leaders from a variety of nationalities, races and genders coming forward. As well as reflecting our changing world and demographics, diversity is simply good for business and critical to ensure that we’re open to new ideas to solve our most pressing challenges as a society.”
All 49 business will use this experience to refine their business models ahead of this year’s finals in November, with the ultimate winners across the three categories receiving an equity-free cash prize of up to £50,000 and in-kind business support from Converge’s network of professional partners, which includes investors, lawyers and business experts.
Converge has created a digital showcase featuring summaries of all who pitched at the event last night. For more information, please visit: https://www.convergechallenge.com/inside-innovation/ .