Heriot-Watt lecturer wins Converge Challenge

A lecturer from Heriot-Watt University has been awarded a £16,500 prize after winning a major competition aimed at entrepreneurial excellence.

Dr Paul Henderson from the university’s school of engineering and physical sciences, department of chemistry, won the Converge Challenge competition after seeing off 27 other staff and student applicants from universities across Scotland.

The competition involved a series of knockout rounds, which included a 30-minute investor pitch to an expert panel made up of established Scottish entrepreneurs, investors and IP specialists.

Henderson’s winning idea was to develop a saliva-based test for drug testing at the roadside and in the workplace.

The prize will allow Henderson to spin out his company DrugCo to produce its first product, a device for the presumptive testing of narcotics in saliva for use at the roadside. This will be followed by devices for workplace drug testing and, in the longer term, for point-of-care diagnostic testing.

The prize package includes a £5,000 start-up fund to help Henderson turn his plans into reality, free office accommodation as well as mentorship and support in legal matters, finance and business development from well-established businesses in the Edinburgh area.