CivTech 2.0 poses a new set of challenges for companies looking to solve public sector problems
The Scottish government has launched a second phase of its CivTech digital accelerator programme.
Following a successful pilot last year, the new iteration of the scheme will see a new set of digital challenges presented for companies or individuals to solve.
CivTech aims to match digital innovators – particularly start-ups and SMEs – with public sector organisations looking to find digital solutions for a range of issues.
Rather than offering specific requirements for tender, CivTech poses open challenges and invites entrepreneurs to offer innovative solutions.
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The project aims to increase innovation in public services and provide opportunities for smaller digital companies to pitch for public sector work.
Last year’s pilot saw nine firms develop a range of products in partnership with 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.
The new challenges in CivTech 2.0 have been set by the Cairngorms National Parks Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage, the NHS, Historic Environment Scotland, the Scottish Government, Stirling Council and Scottish Enterprise.
The Cairngorms National Parks Authority and SNH have set a joint challenge to find a solution to help combat bird of prey persecution.
Historic Environment Scotland would like a product to track visitors to Scotland’s historic attractions, while NHS Scotland is looking to create a smarter booking system for outpatient appointments.
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Data is also an area of focus, with three challenges looking at how to make better use of data.
NHS National Services Scotland and the Scottish government are looking for ways to improve access to Scotland’s statistical information, while Stirling Council wants to find ways to capture and use data to improve local services.
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The Scottish government has also posed the open challenge ‘How might we use data to provide better access to public services through mygov.scot?’ the single portal for accessing multiple public services.
The top applicants will get funding and support to develop their ideas further, with shortlisted companies offered £3,000 to develop their initial proposal and finalists receiving an additional £17,000 for three months’ development work.
Post-accelerator funding of up to £80,000 is also available to support further development of the products, to be assessed on the basis of the commercial potential of the idea.
The costs are met jointly by the Scottish government and the public sector bodies sponsoring each of the challenges.
Launching the new phase of the project, 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.”
The application process will be managed by Public Contracts Scotland and the submission portal will go live on Friday.