UK (University of Dundee) Dundee’s top academic innovators recognised at Converge Awards

An entrepreneurial professor and recent graduate from the University of Dundee have found success in Scotland’s top enterprise awards.

Professor Emanuele Trucco was named runner-up of the Converge Challenge 2022, scooping a total of £29,000 for ‘Eye to the Future’, a spin-out company developing innovative software for the early detection of eye diseases.

Nick Fitzpatrick, who graduated from the University in 2021, received a prize of £5,000 under the Converge KickStart Wellbeing award to develop his business ‘Inclu’, creating inclusively designed kitchen products.

The pair are among 15 of Scotland’s top academic entrepreneurs who were recognised at the awards ceremony in Edinburgh on Thursday 3 November.

Eye to the Future is a planned spin-off from the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh and was co-founded by Dundee’s Professor Trucco, Edinburgh’s Dr Tom MacGillivray, and David Bowie (CEO). It builds on 20 years of joint research and expertise on retinal image and data analysis.

The developed software enables the early detection of glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, from a simple eye exam.

“This award is another fantastic recognition of the work done so far by the Eye to the Future team,” said Professor Trucco, from the University’s School of Science and Engineering.

“We have identified a clear, precise market need for optometrists globally to be able to more efficiently diagnosis and refer patients with eye conditions to secondary care or manage them in a community setting. Our software product addresses this need.

“The Converge process has already created much visibility for the company and provided excellent training and support. The award will contribute to employing part-time our technical team, as we work on achieving the seed round of investment.”

Inclu builds on work previously done by Nick as part of his final-year studies at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. The business creates inclusively designed kitchen products that allows users of various abilities to comfortably and independently operate the products without any stigma.

Nick, who is passionate about inclusive design, created the stylish products in the hope they remove barriers of separation and stigmas that are attached with other assistive technologies.

“The prize will be hugely useful as we continue to work on the design of our inclusive products,” said Nick.

“We have recently expanded the team to allow us to develop our fully functional prototypes, and the funding gives us access to more manufacturing methods and materials to experiment with. It’s great to have this financial backing to let us explore more innovative options that will allow us to make a big impact on how people of all abilities can live independently.

“I’m delighted to have won this award. It offers me some great reassurance that I’m on a good path, and I’m more motivated than ever to keep pushing forward.”