Edinburgh entrepreneurs win prestigious awards

An Edinburgh researcher and a recent graduate have won top prizes in Converge, the prestigious entrepreneurial programme for Scottish universities and research institutes.

Genevieve Patenaude Converge 2020
Dr Genevieve Patenaude, Converge Challenge 2020 winner

Dr Genevieve Patenaude, Senior Lecturer at the School of Geosciences, won the awards’ biggest prize, the Converge Challenge, for her start-up, Earth Blox. Dr Patenaude receives £50,000 in funding and £21,000 in in-kind business support.

Elena Höge, a recent graduate in Design and Digital Media from Edinburgh College of Art, took the second-biggest prize of the competition, the Creative Challenge, with her start-up Yaldi Games. Ms Höge receives £20,000 in funding and £21,000 as in-kind support.

This year’s Converge final was hosted from Doha, Qatar, by Scottish journalist and broadcaster Halla Mohieddeen, with a keynote address by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Satellite technology

Earth Blox aims to provide access to planetary-scale satellite intelligence without the need for specialist software or expertise.

Applications include the better understanding of the global impact of deforestation and large-scale disasters, and the teaching of Earth-observation skills. Its users include the UN Environment Programme and numerous universities wishing to conduct planetary-scale analyses with ease.

Dr Patenaude has been a client of Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, since January 2019, receiving guidance and support with several successful funding applications.

She gained a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship in May 2019, which funded her to develop her venture and was hosted by Edinburgh Innovations.

Winning the Converge Challenge will allow us to fast track our vision of democratising planetary scale satellite intelligence, so it becomes accessible to a whole suite of organisations dealing with humanitarian and disaster relief, and to universities for online Earth-observation learning.

Edinburgh Innovations has been wonderfully helpful in creating connections, making introductions to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Scotland, generating awareness of funding routes for bringing innovative ideas to market, and providing countless opportunities for learning from experts in entrepreneurship.

Dr Genevieve Patenaude

Educational games

Ms Höge’s startup, Yaldi Games, aims to become a leading educational game developer with social and cultural impact, with the mission to create meaningful entertainment. Its first title, Wholesome, will inspire interest in nature and teach skills such as foraging and healthy cooking.

She recently completed Edinburgh Innovations’ 12-week Start-up Summer Accelerator programme.

Continued success

Now in their tenth year, the 2020 awards mark the third occasion in which the Converge top prize has been won by University staff or students.

In total, the University has had 16 winners and multiple runners-up in several award categories over the past decade.

Congratulations to Genevieve and Elena, Edinburgh’s latest worthy Converge winners. We’re proud to help our inspiring staff, student and recent graduates turn their ideas and entrepreneurism into products and services with real-world impact.

Dr George BaxterCEO, Edinburgh Innovations

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