Scottish Government tech accelerator turns attention to protecting nature

New £2.6m support programme seeks digital solutions to challenges facing the natural world

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The Scottish Government’s tech accelerator programme CivTech Scotland has launched a new £2.6m initiative to support the development of technology that could help protect the natural world.

Delivered in partnership with the government’s nature agency, NatureScot, the ‘Innovate for Nature’ programme was launched in conjunction with COP27 will initially run four challenges, each of which will offer funding of £650,000. Companies across the world are invited to put forward digital and data-based solutions, which then receive funding and development support.

The challenges include using technology to better identify and assess projects to support “Scotland’s marine capital”, developing a monitoring system for the health of protected areas, using biodiversity credits to help address an estimated £20bn finance gap, and creating a technology-enabled “nature network… across all different areas of Scotland”.

More challenges – focused on using tech to leave with climate change and manage risks – are due to be unveiled in due course.

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Scottish Government business minister Ivan McKee said: “The Scottish Government’s £6m funding this year has enabled rapid growth of the CivTech programme, demonstrating demand and appetite for Government-backed tech accelerators. Not only does this programme create practical solutions to real life problems, it is a proven springboard for many businesses to further develop their products and find even greater success within their field. The Scottish Government is nurturing innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the public sector while tackling climate change. The National Strategy for Economic Transformation is helping create innovative green jobs and contributing to reaching net zero by 2045.”  

NatureScot’s director of business services and transformation, Jane Macdonald, said: “Nature loss and climate change are two of the biggest threats we face, and so it’s crucial we respond to these challenges urgently. Innovate for Nature is helping us to do this by changing the way we work, using the CivTech Accelerator to harness digital innovation and helping us to collaborate with partners at speed to understand the issues and identify workable solutions. We are excited to be at the forefront of the Innovate for Nature missions and cannot wait to get started with CivTech 8.”

Since its launch, CivTech has set more than 60 challenges, with 178 teams taking part and 67 progressing to the scheme’s accelerator stage. Last year the Scottish Government said it would be providing £13.5m of investment to CivTech over the life of this parliament.


Sam Trendall

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