The event, which featured a keynote speech delivered by Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee, was put together to ensure the success of the start-ups could be celebrated and to offer them an opportunity to win additional seed funding.
Staff, students and alumni from the accelerator program all took part in the event, with finalists pitching for four awards of ￡5000 using pre-recorded videos that were streamed on YouTube.
Mr. McKee said, “During these difficult times it is great to share some positive stories. Nurture and growth of young innovative companies matters and Scotland's academic institutes play a vital role in supporting and building confidence in our new entrepreneurs. That is just what we need as we navigate our way out of lockdown and towards recovery”
Attendr took home the Most Innovative Idea Award for demonstrating a significantly innovative and unique idea which would have the maximum impact on industry. The team developed a platform for low-cost, real-time tracking solution for further and higher education to record student attendance, reducing the time and human error of traditional attendance systems.
The award for Best Pitch was given to Storical for delivering the best pitch video on the day. Storical is an online digital platform that provides a simple tool for anyone to create compelling location-based story experiences.
KnitIt was awarded the Most Improved Award for demonstrating the most progress and development with their idea over the course of the start-up accelerator process. The team designed platform to reinvent knitting patterns and use interactive tools to help users learn from tutorials, find and share patterns, and track their progress.
The event which was broadcast live to the public allowed the audience to influence the outcome of the event as they had the opportunity to vote for the Audience Choice Award. The team that had the most votes from the public was Kairos which provides a critical solution to reducing household waste and save money while doing so.
The videos were judged based on a variety of criteria by a distinguished panel comprising Jo Macsween, RGU alumnus, former CEO of Macsween Haggis and Chair at Vistage, Jared Owen, Director of Digital and Entrepreneurship at Opportunity North East and RGU alumnus, Fiona Godsman, CEO of Scottish Institute for Enterprise, Mike Wilson, Chairman of Ecosse IP and RGIT alumnus and Duncan Reoch, Associate Partner at Ernst & Young.
Sir Ian Wood, Chairman of The Wood Foundation, commented “As the chancellor of RGU, I am proud to see the significant progress and achievements of the university and the impact it has made on the North East of Scotland, not the least of which is the business world. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, these successful start-up teams provide an indication of how enterprise can succeed. The quality of the ideas from the start up teams is incredibly high and the imagination and entrepreneurship of these people bode very well for the future.”
The event was also used to launch the COVID-19 Student Innovation Challenge, funded by the RGU Foundation, which seeks to reward those RGU students who have used their ingenuity and creativity to selflessly make a positive impact on those in need during the pandemic. The competition will run through June and five winners will be announced in July 2020.
The Startup Accelerator has seen a surge in popularity in its second year, with more than 180 entrepreneurial teams competing for the mentorship, development opportunity, and seed funding. The Startup Accelerator is the first funded programme of its kind in the North East of Scotland which aims to support the diversification of the regional economy through the yearly creation of new businesses.
The accelerator is part of the university’s innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives and supports entrepreneurial teams of students, staff and alumni from RGU and North East Scotland College (NESCol), with the aim of helping the region’s entrepreneurs and innovators create new scalable businesses.
On top of business creation through the Startup Accelerator, which is funded by The Wood Foundation, RGU has introduced a number of other programmes for staff, students, alumni and other organisations to help drive the innovation agenda. These include Innovation Skills sessions, the Aberdeen Innovation Mentors (AIM), in-class micro-lectures, Innovation Masterclasses, the Entrepreneurship Advancement Program, Innovation Works for Industry, and secondary school outreach on the ‘Future of Work’.
In 2019, RGU has won the 2019 Herald Education Award for its development of ‘Innovation@RGU’, which is embedding entrepreneurship and innovation across the university and supporting the economic growth and diversifications of the region.