Vet shortlisted in virtual pitch competition with gadget to identify heart disease in animals

A Scottish veterinary investigations officer has beaten strong competition from around the country with a virtual pitch for a gadget to provide a unique, cost-effective diagnostic test to identify heart disease in animals.

Eve Hanks, who works at SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College), impressed judges in the semi-finals of this year’s Converge Challenge.

The competition, which offers a £1,000 top prize, showcases the latest innovations from Scotland’s higher education sector.

Hank’s new company, MI:RNA, was formed as a result of an Innovation Hub Orchard project that started in 2019.

She said: “Winning the judges’ vote helps to really confirm for me that the business is moving in the right direction and that our product is being presented correctly.

“The judges found the pitch credible, clear and they recognised the fantastic market opportunity that lies ahead. I hope this is the start of a really exciting period of growth for MI:RNA Ltd.”

The prize also includes a mentoring session with investment guru and serial angel investor Paul Atkinson.

Hosted by Scottish news presenter Halla Mohieddeen, and billed as an evening with Scotland’s leading and future innovators, the Converge semi-final showcased 29 aspiring academic entrepreneurs from across Scotland.

Around 320 attendees from across Scotland, the UK and overseas including Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, India, Germany and the USA, tuned in to watch them deliver a 60-second elevator pitch.

The investor-led panel of judges included: Fraser Lusty of Equity Gap; Gillian Fleming of Mint Ventures; and Steven Morris of ESM Investments.

Claudia Cavalluzzo, director of Converge, said: “Pitching your business is one of the most important skills to harness as an entrepreneur.

“Whether it’s raising investment or gaining new customers, pitching is an essential skill, which is why it is such a key part of our business training programme.

“Pitching doesn’t always come naturally, however, which is why I’ve been blown away by the standard of our semi-finalists this year. Huge congratulations to everyone for taking part.”

In the next phase of the programme, semi-finalists will submit a business plan, with the very best ideas going forward to the Converge Awards final on September 24.