A technology business looking to turn wastewater into fresh water has won the top prize of £10,000 at this year’s Converge Challenge KickStart Awards.

Waterwhelm, founded by Dr Ali Abbassi Monjezi, a former research associate in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, aims to address a worldwide lack of clean water

His concept is to commercialise an innovative self-powered technology to produce fresh water from wastewater whilst simultaneously generating electricity.

Dr Monjezi has been working for several years on a solution to this problem, which according to UNICEF, leaves 2.5 billion people worldwide lacking access to clean water. Moreover, given the rate of expected population growth, this will become even more challenging in the years ahead.

Dr Monjezi beat the strong competition from a variety of high potential projects whose quality was the highest recorded for this category.

Runner up, winning £5,000, was Ms Saskia Goeres from Designed for Life, a collaboration between the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow.  Her first product, Sofa for Life, is a portable, washable and easily repaired sofa. Designed for life’s line of products will aim to dramatically reduce landfill waste caused by low value furniture.

Speaking at the KickStart Awards, Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director of Converge, said;

“Submissions for the 2019 KickStart programme have surpassed all our expectations, not just in the number of applications received, but in their quality and creativity. The diversity of ideas is simply wonderful. The finalists came up with brilliant concepts in circular economy, sensor technology, life science, gender equality in opera and so much more. These ideas uphold this country’s proud tradition for exceptional invention and creativity.

“Through the KickStart programme, we aim to identify and support ideas that show great growth potential, innovation and creativity.  This year’s winners embody our vision and make us proud to work for such a worthy organisation.

“Scotland’s Higher Education is strongly committed to developing entrepreneurship across a wide and diverse range of disciplines. It helps to see a much bigger picture that sets our people on a path of business creation which contributes to Scotland’s burgeoning enterprise economy.”

I heartily congratulate both Dr Monjezi from the University of Edinburgh and Ms Saskia Goeres from the Glasgow School of Art on their achievements today and look forward to hearing how they will flourish in the months ahead.”

Converge KickStart Award is the early stage ideas platform that forms part of Converge, Scotland’s leading company creation programme which acts as a springboard for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The 2019 Converge KickStart event was held at The Open Experience, RBS, Gogarburn.

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