Competitions, awards and prizes

Especially in the earliest stages of a business, competitions can provide not only some funding, but also business advice and support, and publicity which can help as the business develops.

bioQuarter Innovation Competition

Sector: Medical
Aim: To support ideas for medical products or services (human or animal).
Open to: Researchers and post graduate students from the University of Edinburgh, and employees of NHS Lothian.
Prizes: £20k cash (first prize £10k) plus business support
Frequency: Annual competition – closes April, awards ceremony June

Converge Challenge

Aim: To provide the commercial skills that will enable participants to bring to market new companies, novel products and services. Works with any idea, at any stage of the development process.
Open to: Academic or research members of staff, postgraduate and final year students of all Scottish universities and research institutes.
Prizes: Prize fund £50k, with business support and mentoring
Further categories:
• KickStart Competition for early stage ideas, prize fund £5k
• Social Enterprise Award, prize fund £11k
• Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, first prize £1k
Frequency: Annual competition, closing date around end April, final judging September

Dare to be Digital

Sector: Video games
Aim: To develop a diverse range of original, innovative games for all platforms.
Open to: Teams of five, must be postgraduate and / or undergraduate students at a Scottish university or art college.
Prizes: three prizes of £2.5k, and opportunity to compete at BAFTA for the Ones To Watch Award
Frequency: Annual competition, closes in May - teams have nine weeks during June to August to develop a prototype video game.

Design Council Spark

A 20-week accelerator programme for product development and commercialisation.
Prizes: Initial funding of £15k for successful applicants, and £50k investment for each of three overall winners.
Frequency: annual

Innovate UK

Innovate UK funds, supports and connects innovative businesses to accelerate sustainable economic growth. Companies can apply for R&D funding in specific priority areas, as well as non-themed ‘always open’ competitions such as Smart. Funding amounts range from £5,000 to £10 million. Innovate UK runs funding competitions which are open to all UK based companies; some are also open to research organisations working with business. There are different funding competitions depending on the size of the company and the type of industry it is in.

Longitude Prize

Run by Nesta, and supported by Innovate UK, the Longitude Prize is a challenge with a £10 million prize fund to help solve the problem of global antibiotic resistance.

Scottish EDGE

Aim: Scottish EDGE is a funding competition aimed at identifying Scotland’s top young, early stage and high growth potential entrepreneurs.
Open to: Businesses in operation for no more than 5 years
Prizes: Up to £100k, 50% as repayable loan
Further categories:
• Higgs EDGE, a special technology award aimed at entrepreneurs who have an engineering, science or technology based business and have a product, or product under development, which is scalable and capable of globalisation. Top prize £125k
• Young EDGE, for companies whose directors are all 18-30 years old, up to £10k grant
• Wild Card EDGE, for companies which are pre-trading, up to £10k grant
Frequency: More than one round per year

Shell Springboard

Aim: To find business ideas that aim to reduce carbon emissions.
Open to: Anyone with a business established for more than three months
Prizes: Nine awards of up to £40k for regional winners, plus entry into national competition with £110k first prize
Frequency: Annual competition, closes December, regional awards in February/March

Shell LiveWIRE

Aim: To help young entrepreneurs to start businesses
Open to: age limit 16-30, companies pre-trading or trading for less than 12 months
Prizes: Smarter Future Awards, £5k; Young Entrepreneur of the Year (£25k award)
Frequency: Smarter Future Awards monthly; Young Entrepreneur of the Year annual

Scottish Institute for Enterprise

SIE runs a number of competitions for students in higher education and in national training programmes, to help them take a business idea to reality.
• Young Innovators Challenge, an annual social innovation themed competition for students, top prize £5k.
• Fresh Ideas Competition, monthly competition for pre-startups, top prize £1k
• New Ventures Competition, annual competition for early stage businesses, top prize £10k
• Get Enterprising, entry-level fun competition