Entrepreneurial success at latest Startup Showcase as future funding secured

20/05/2024

ENTREPRENEURS have been rewarded at Robert Gordon University (RGU) for their innovations following the University’s latest Startup Accelerator Showcase on Thursday 16th of May.

Hosted on campus for the first time, the Showcase saw eight of the 16-strong start-up cohort pitch in front of a live in-person and online audience to compete for a series of awards that could propel their ideas into reality.

Big winners on the night included Cardio Intel who won £10k having scooped both the Innovation Impact Award and the Audience Choice Award for their digital twin technology aimed to reduce heart disease mortality.

Carnie Bees, an Aberdeenshire-based firm that offers bee-based solutions to modern health challenges, were also double award winners having won both Community Impact Award (£5k) and Best Exhibition Stand (£1k)

Olugbenga Abejirin, Chief Executive Officer, Cardio Intel said: “We are really honoured to be award recipients at the 2024 RGU Startup Accelerator. The programme was intense, the content robust, and the cohort founders were super amazing.

“Special thanks to the entirety of RGU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group team – if anyone understood our pitch at all, it was because Aisha Kasim (Startup Manager), our mentor, worked tirelessly with us to smooth out all the rough edges. And if we sounded innovative, it was because Chris Moule (Head of Entrepreneurship & Innovation) showed us how to focus our pitch towards a desired goal.”

In what is major news for the programme’s future, it was announced on the night that next year’s Accelerator will be funded by Aberdeen City Council through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), part of UK Government’s Levelling Up programme.

First launched in 2018 with support from the Wood Foundation, the Startup Accelerator is the flagship programme of RGU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group (EIG) and involves five months of collaboration, idea development, and training workshops for participants. It has supported over 130 businesses across the region and significantly contributed towards the social, cultural and economic development of the North East.

Donella Beaton, Vice Principal for Economic Development at RGU, said: “It was my honour to once again judge at an Accelerator Showcase, made even more special this year with RGU staff taking part again.

“The sustained commitment and efforts in embedding entrepreneurialism at the University is sector leading and a vital component of our strategic mission to transform people and communities.

“News that we have secured funding for next year’s programme is fantastic! We’re really grateful to Aberdeen City Council and to the UK Government for their support of the Programme which we can now take to the wider City. The funding is recognition of the innovative work being done by the University and its dedicated entrepreneurship team, and of course to the continuing success of our many start-ups.”

Another significant winner was Revive Geoscience Services who received the Felix Chung Sustainability Award in addition to £5,000. Professor Felix Chung, entrepreneur and RGU alumni of Quantity Surveying in 1986, made the donation to reflect his combined passion for sustainability and for entrepreneurship. He and his wife travelled from Hong Kong to present the award with Revive Geoscience Services winning for their AI-assisted energy transition technology.

The theme for this year’s programme was ‘back to the future’ as it opened itself to applications from RGU staff, students and alumni, just like the very first cohort six years ago, and to once again showcase innovations and display visions of the future. To mark the occasion, the famous DeLorean car greeted attendees at the University’s Sir Ian Wood Building.

Aisha Kasim, Startup Manager at RGU’s EIG, said: “Every year the Accelerator Showcase audience is taken ‘back to the future’ as our innovative RGU start-ups pitch what could be the future of business, healthcare, sport, the third sector and more.

“In addition to taking positives from the wide-ranging benefits of our Accelerator programme, each of this year’s cohort has demonstrated an amazing spirit of comradery. This is exemplified by the distance some have covered to attend both the Showcase and workshops, from as far as Ethiopia and London, and it will certainly support their future entrepreneurial endeavours. Congratulations to each of them for making it this far.”  

Keynote speaker on the night was Sheli McCoy, more commonly known to many this year as Sabre following her starring role in returning hit BBC show Gladiators. The RGU alumni, who studied at the School of Health Sciences, spoke about her education and entrepreneurial journey exclaiming that “RGU does not follow, it leads”.

The University is successfully embedding entrepreneurialism throughout its courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level by introducing specific modules and university wide student programmes and competitions through the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group.

Its commitment mirrors the governmental ambition in Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation to establish Scotland as a world-class entrepreneurial nation with a pipeline of scaling businesses.

Past entrepreneurial success stories from RGU include start-up firms who have gone on to generate revenue and create significant employment in Scotland and across the world.

In addition to Donella Beaton, award winners were judged by Dr Yekemi Otaru, Chief Growth Officer and Co-founder of Doqaru and Chancellor of the University of the West of Scotland, and Edward Pollock, TechX Acceleration Manager at the Net Zero Technology Centre.

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