Pioneering Glasgow social enterprise recognised at Converge Challenge Awards

September 29, 2017

An online physiotherapy service has scooped the top award for businesses with a social impact in Scotland’s leading university company creation competition.

Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, Social Enterprise Award winner Lorna Paul and Firstport's Kirstie Penman (L - R) Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, Social Enterprise Award winner Lorna Paul and Firstport's Kirstie Penman (L - R)

Converge Challenge is Scotland’s leading company creation competition and entrepreneurial development programme for Scottish universities. The Converge Challenge Social Enterprise Award category presented in collaboration with Firstport, Scotland’s social enterprise development agency, focuses on ideas that will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues.

The winners were announced at a glittering awards ceremony attended by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland, at the Glasgow Science Centre last night (Thursday, 28th September 2017).

Glasgow Caledonian University professor Lorna Paul was awarded the top prize for her innovative social enterprise, Web-based Physiotherapy. Many people find it difficult to access physiotherapy for a number of reasons. Web-based Physiotherapy allows for the remote delivery and monitoring of personalised physiotherapy exercise programmes for people with long-term conditions.

Lorna wins a £5000 award provided by Firstport, as well as in-kind business support from Spreng Thomson and Morton Ward.

Runner up Callum MacKinnon, who recently graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University in occupational therapy, was awarded £3500 by Converge Challenge. His social enterprise, Forth Valley Rebound Therapy Service CIC, is the first and only ‘open’ referral service in Scotland to deliver one-to-one or group Rebound Therapy sessions. Rebound Therapy is the therapeutic use of a trampoline, providing a range of physical, social and sensory benefits to individuals with disabilities and autism.

Firstport has been involved in the Converge Challenge since 2014. Programme Manager Kirstie Penman sits on the judging panel for the Social Enterprise Award.

Kirstie Penman said: “Lorna’s online platform for the remote delivery and monitoring of personalised physiotherapy exercise programmes really excited the judges. At Firstport, we have long believed that social enterprise and innovation go hand in hand. We believe there are some fantastic ideas coming out of universities that clearly address a social issue. We want to make sure that social enterprise is recognised by students and academics as a viable route to spin out an idea.”

Lorna Paul said: “I am delighted to win this award from Converge Challenge and Firstport. The prize money will enable us to take advice on intellectual property and to officially launch Web-based Physiotherapy as a Social Enterprise. The ongoing support will be invaluable, helping us to focus on developing the business and taking it to the next level!”

A full list of all the winners can be found on the Converge Challenge website: www.convergechallenge.com 

Firstport is also running the Social Innovation Competition, which offers three £5000 prizes along with tailored business support to the most exciting, innovative ideas tackling social issues, focusing on culture, heritage and tourism.

The winners, including one young social innovator, will be announced at an awards ceremony in the Scottish Parliament in November and receive £5000 alongside support from Firstport. Anyone interested should visit www.firstport.org.uk/programmes/socialinnovation for more information. Applications close on Monday 9 October.

ENDS

For more information, contact Carol Stewart carol@firstport.org.uk or Jess Gray jess@firstport.org.uk, 0131 558 2724.

Editor Notes

Firstport
Established in 2007, Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise. They offer a full package of free business support and resources that includes start-up funds, business advice, practical tools and connections. Firstport delivers an awards programme, which distributes money from the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund. Firstport is also part of the Just Enterprise consortium, with responsibility for providing business support to start-up social enterprises across Scotland. More information is available at www.firstport.org.uk

Winner: web-based physiotherapy
Many people find it difficult to access physiotherapy for a number of reasons e.g work, lack of transport. We have developed a platform for the remote delivery and monitoring of personalised physiotherapy exercise programmes for people with long-term conditions (www.webbasedphysio.com). Following assessment, the physiotherapist selects the most appropriate exercises from over 250 in the library. Each exercise page consists of a video, an auditory and written description of the exercise. We have customised the site for people with e.g. MS, arthritis, stroke, spinal injury and diabetes. The website is currently being used in the UK, New Zealand and Canada.

Runner up: Forth Valley Rebound Therapy Service
Forth Valley Rebound Therapy Service (FVRTS) CIC is the first and only ‘open’ referral service in Scotland to deliver 1:1 or group Rebound Therapy sessions. Rebound Therapy is the therapeutic use of a trampoline, providing a range of physical, social and sensory benefits to individuals with disabilities and autism. Rebound is a recognised therapy, practiced internationally by a variety of professionals. Callum MacKinnon, Executive Director & Level 3 Coach, graduated as an Occupational Therapist this summer and is working toward FVRTS developing relevant OT assessment tools and outcome measures to further evidence the work completed in Scotland.