NINE NEW businesses have won part of an £80,000 funding pot at the final showcase event for Robert Gordon University’s (RGU’s) Regional Startup Accelerator on 12 May.
Across the past three years, the Accelerator programme has supported more than 56 early-stage ventures, which have gone on to hire staff, win national awards, and generate more than £1.6 million worth of economic impact.
The top winning start-ups—each receiving a total of £25,000 in funding—were Alexandra Spencer and Ashley Barr for their Kitchen Integrated Fire Suppression System (KIFSS) business, and Lasse and Elliott Martens for Two Raccoons Winery.
Alexandra from KIFSS said: “We are still reeling, shell-shocked, and incredibly grateful for the honour. We aim to do RGU, the Innovation team, and the North East proud!
“Our ambition and what we want our company to achieve is to bring people peace of mind by providing them with safety in their own homes. We hope this will lift the regional economy in the North East of Scotland by working with local suppliers as well as reduce strain on the fire services.”
Elliott from Two Racoons Winery said: “We are still in disbelief! Seeing Two Raccoons being recognized at this level by both the judges and the audience was an incredibly gratifying moment. This accelerator had already given us so much: mentorship, network, and priceless business guidance. So, winning both the regional impact and audience award that night felt absolutely bananas!”
“Aside from preventing tonnes of good fruit surplus from being thrown away, we believe our wine is the ideal way to open up the conversation around food waste and break down the massive taboo that surrounds this topic.”
It was the fourth year of the programme’s existence; however, it was the first year in which RGU’s Accelerator was open to anyone from across the wider North East region—beyond RGU’s community of staff, students, and alumni—with more than 190 teams applying to take part.
36 teams were selected to take part in the main Accelerator programme, who gained access to seed funding, mentorship, and five months of training, culminating in the final Startup Showcase. This year’s start-up ideas ranged from climate-friendly drink products to innovative AI technology platforms and Virtual Reality edtech, all of which aim to transform industries while positively impacting local communities.
During the final showcase, the live audience took an active role and voted for their favourite business ideas—as well as awarded cash prizes. Those participating online also gained first-hand insights into the most innovative ideas of various industries, while also having the opportunity to share their opinions. The full showcase is available to view via YouTube.
Chris Moule, Head of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at RGU says: “The annual showcase was a unique opportunity for the audience to celebrate entrepreneurship and be inspired by the innovation taking place across our region and to network with experts in areas, such as clean tech and food and drink.”
“The Regional Startup Accelerator programme advances RGU’s vision of being an innovative and impactful university that can drive economic growth and contribute to the social and cultural fabric of the region.”
The regional accelerator and showcase event are funded by the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council, and Opportunity North East through the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NEERSF).
RGU’s Startup Accelerator is delivered by the award-winning Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group, a dedicated team of practitioners that the University has funded to support RGU’s aims of economic, social, and cultural development.