AI ideas to help people and the planet as Converge unveils 100-strong cohort 

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge

STUDENTS, staff, and graduates at Scotland’s universities are harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) as a force for good for both people and the planet, the national springboard for university innovators, Converge, has revealed.

Converge has today unveiled the 100 start-ups and spinouts that will receive support to turn their ideas for products and services into reality as part of its 2023 programme. This includes people from all 19 Scottish higher education institutions, with a growing number of companies using AI to help tackle challenges including the climate emergency, health conditions, and childhood literacy.

As conversations gather pace around how AI should be regulated and applied in various industries and sectors, this year’s cohort demonstrates the power and potential of AI for good. Examples include Books2Life, created by Aisha Kasim from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, which uses AI to create illustrations based on the text of any book, bringing stories to life for children with dyslexia.

Scott Black, from Claymore Surgical at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, is using AI to speed up the diagnosis of paediatric obstructive sleep apnoea, one of the most common respiratory disorders in children.

Darius Roman’s yaiLab at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh helps companies to optimise their use of large batteries connected to the electricity grid through the use of AI.

Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Executive Director at Converge, said: “This year’s cohort proves that ideas and innovations are thriving in Scotland’s universities, with AI at the heart of many of these new companies. 

“Turning ideas into impact is at the core of Converge’s mission to unlock the potential of innovators, creatives, and aspiring business founders across Scotland’s universities.”

Data released last week [4 May] by Beauhurst showed that Edinburgh is the top start-up hub outside London, with 12.3% of companies working in AI, digital security, and financial technology. 

Dr Cavalluzzo added: “We are proud to be supporting ambitious people from right across Scotland who demonstrate that university students, staff, and graduates are rising to the challenge of delivering sustainable and inclusive economic growth in every region.

“At Converge, we continue to become more diverse and inclusive, with a 28% increase in applicants from ethnically diverse backgrounds, and an 8% rise in applications from women. Broadening diversity and inclusion is part of our aim to change the narrative around the word ‘entrepreneur’, which has negative connotations for lots of people, particularly women and impact-driven individuals.

“Call them creatives, call them innovators, call them founders – these are the people who have the potential to change the world for the better.”

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