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New boost for Scotland's digital tech sector

Published: 9 May 2017 09:16

CivTech launches phase II of tech accelerator fund

A new Scottish Government-run accelerator programme will revolutionise how technology led businesses work with the public sector.

Following a successful pilot, CivTech®  aims to match digital tech innovators – typically start-ups and SMEs - with public sector organisations looking to create digital solutions for a range of ‘civic challenges’.

It aims to drive innovation in public services, empower the public sector to think differently, and provide economic development opportunities for digital companies.

Last year’s pilot saw nine firms deliver a range of products in partnership with the likes of SEPA, the  NHS and Transport Scotland. This led to a new flood forecasting system, smart road monitoring software which promises “to detect potholes before they happen”, and a new fundraising service for homeless people enabling them to raise and access emergency funding.

CivTech 2.0 as its being called poses a new set of challenges and invites companies and individuals to propose a solution. These are:

  • Cairngorms National Parks Authority / Scottish Natural Heritage: Combat bird of prey persecution
  • Historic Environment Scotland: Track visitors to Scotland’s historic attraction
  • NHS National Services Scotland / Scottish Government: Improve access to Scotland’s statistical information
  • NHS Scotland: Create a smarter booking system for outpatient appointments
  • Scottish Government: How might we use data to provide better access to public services through mygov.scot?
  • Scottish Enterprise: How can we better mobilise our networks to build brand Scotland?
  • Stirling Council: Capture and use data to improve local services

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said:

“Scotland is highly regarded around the world for innovation. We have some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds based here on our own doorstep, so it makes perfect sense to tap into that talent to help the public sector work faster and smarter.

“If we want to be a world leader in tech we need to create conditions that allow companies to thrive, and that includes enabling new ways of working, such as streamlining the public sector procurement processes and working in a more agile, fast-paced way.”

Learn to Love Digital was one of the CivicTech pilot companies. They developed an app called Highlands Discovery which provides a deeper connection and more information about the passing landscape when driving up the A9.

Company co-founder Stephen Heron said:

“CivTech is a great way of bringing innovation into the Scottish public sector. The experience has enabled us to make connections with the public sector and other start-ups within the tech industry. It has given us an opportunity to access markets that would otherwise have been impossible. We were supported every step of the way in developing our product through the Accelerator, a challenging, intensive but rewarding process. We now want to leverage this experience to maximise the commercial potential of our product.”